I was fortunate enough to go to Ireland twice this year, both trips better than I could have imagined, full of fun, laughter, adventure and of course Guinness. The second time around I was coming back to Dublin for TBEX Europe, a travel blogger conference, which was an amazing meeting of the minds for those of us who call everywhere home. Dublin was a perfect location for the event, buzzing with life and culture, the city is full of friendly locals, rich history and did I mention Guinness?
The opening event was, of all places, at the Guinness Storehouse and I was blown away by the hospitality that Ireland had to offer with Fáilte Ireland. The Storehouse is a top tourist attraction offering visitors a chance to see, learn and eventually taste all the history that’s in that pint glass. The Storehouse is a complete experience, with seven stories in the building sharing the story of the company that begins in the 1700’s.
Out of all the things I was most excited about it was the water feature displayed on the tour showing the importance it has in the Guinness process therefore creating a corporate responsibility for the company to give back with the Water of Life Campaign that is an initiative that provides drinking water to communities that otherwise would have issues access it. Something to cheers to!
We had several days to take in the sights and sounds of the city and after the conference ended I decided to spend some time to experience parts of the Emerald Isle I had yet to explore, so off to the mountains I went.
Wicklow Mountains are a National Park and a short drive outside of Dublin. With over 20,000 hectares it is a truly stunning representation of what the land has in store for you outside of the city. Our tour started with dividing up our group, as the tour offers different options in the beginning portion based on activity level. Cycling, hiking and horseback riding are all offered otherwise you can leisurely stroll through the Powerscourt Estate and see the spectacular Italian style gardens on the property. Centuries ago powerful Irish families feuded over the land along with the castle that used to stand here and the view alone could be reason enough to fight for the property. The world renown gardens are a suitable place to spend a sunny afternoon, however, being more of a busy body I opted for the horseback riding.
The Killegar stables have over 70 horses and they offer private lessons and treks through the woods for any skill level. We had a lesson in the round pen first to determine skill level then soon after our guide took us out through the fern covered trails. It was a great way to get a view of the mountain area, climbing and traversing over roots along the path. We got to trot through some sections, posting up and down through the fresh air is freeing and although I’ve been on a horse before it created an experience for me that I won’t forget. On our way back down towards the barn we came upon several deer, they quickly turned their heads, staring our animals eye to eye before disappearing into the wilderness.
We headed through the national park, over to Glendalough (meaning two lakes) and along the way got views of Sally Gap and Guinness Lake before heading to the 6th century monastic site.
Thanks Terry and everyone at Hilltop Trek Tours for providing such an amazing last day in Ireland!
This has been a banner year for tourism in Ireland, The Gathering has been a great success and has encouraged everyone with a wee bit of Irish in them to come explore their roots, I’ve had two unforgettable trips here and I’m sure to return… 2014 trip anyone?