Emerald Isle


The monastic community of Glendalough was founded in the late 500s. Hundreds of years later, only ruins are left. photo by Kamilla

I used to wish I was tan.

In middle school, I remember asking my mom to buy me the cream that would turn my legs orange like everyone else at my school.  She used to ask, “But why? You have the beautiful Irish skin” (for anyone who doesn’t know, “Irish skin” is code for very, very pale).

I always figured that when I eventually made it to Ireland, I would be around my pale kin who live on rain-drenched island.

I never thought I would get sunburned.

When we made it to Ireland, I started peeling back the layers. It was much warmer and sunnier than London which was only a 40 minute plane rode away. The sky was blue and clouds mere wisps of thought.

It was in this beautiful weather that I got to hike Glendalough, a valley with two lakes that is known for its monastic settlement founding the 6th century.

I think I can safely say that we were all kind of giddy with the beauty of Glendalough.  Stephen, who grew up in Seattle, remarked frequently how much it seemed like home.  In the beginning of our walk, he vanished for a bit and reappeared with a walking stick. He then began to walk on the rugged deer paths next to the hikers’ trail.

We think he was pretending to be Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

And as horrible as it sounds, it was difficult not to keep comparing Ireland to movies.  It was so beautiful and so green that it kind of felt like I was walking in someone else’s desktop wallpaper. And the feelings persisted as we took a bus tour through the Wicklow mountains. (Well, the Irish call them mountains, but technically, they are large hills).

The bus would stop time to time to let us out for photographs. On more than one occasion, our bus was parked so close to the edge of valley, that our tour guide would step out and check to make sure the edge could bear our weight.  At one point, she let us out for 30 minutes to climb one of the  larger hills and look at a hidden lake.

As much as I love Paris, Dublin and London,  the Irish countryside is my favorite destination yet-– even if I get a little sunburned.

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