Easing on Down the Road
GAELIC GETAWAY, CHAPTER 4: IN WHICH WE GET INTO THE COUNTRY
Day 4: Dublin to Kilkenny. On our way out of Dublin this morning, we set off to find an electric space heater to use while we're in Ireland and Scotland. Having experienced December in Wales and England, we know that it's likely for the heat to be turned off and on intermittently at a central control in a hotel. It is not unusual for the heat to be switched off completely at night and restored in the morning.
The first store where we stopped was a Tesco, but it was just a grocery store, not a SuperTesco, as we thought, which would carry other types of products. We stopped and asked an employee who was stocking shelves if she knew where we might find a small electric space heater. She, of course, asked us if we knew where various landmarks were, which we didn't. Finally, she said what sounded like, "Just go to the leafy valley." After the third time she repeated "leafy valley," I was ready to tromp off into the woods and find the forest in the leafy valley where heaters grow on trees.
Instead, Ken suggested we consult Google, which is so helpful and understanding when we misspell critical words in a search term. A search for "leafy valley shopping dublin" brought us information about the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, which was only a couple of miles away. There we found a B & Q store, an Irish twin to Home Depot, all the way down to the orange aprons on employees.
|Is it B & Q or is it HD?|
Outside the U.S., one often sees odd little electrical outlets in hotel bathrooms that indicate "Shavers Only." No regular outlets are there. When hairdryers are provided, they are either hard wired and mounted on the bathroom wall or placed in the bedroom. Even light switches are placed outside the bathroom on the wall next to the door.
Are we Americans just too cavalier when it comes to using electricity in a moisture laden environment? We are, and we have reason to be less cautious. Electrical outlets in North America supply electrical power at 110 to 120 volts. In much of the rest of the world, that juice is coming out a double the power—220 to 240 volts, typical of the "special" outlet used in North America for clothes dryers. With the stronger current, more caution is required, as Brian explained. Still in shock over our question about using an electric heater in the bathroom, he repeated as we parted ways, "We like to keep our customers alive!"
Before we move on past this adventure in non-native shopping, let me hasten to add that we did find what is known locally as an electric fan heater. And already this evening it has proved invaluable in our chilly hotel room. Never was a product more aptly named than this little bit of Blyss.
With our business complete, we headed south out of Dublin on the M50, Ireland's busiest motorway—a limited-access, divided highway equivalent to interstate highways in the U.S. Our first stop was Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, about a half hour from the city. Set in the countryside overlooking the Wicklow Mountains, Powerscourt is a large country estate known for its gardens and manor house.
Today, the estate is still owned by a Wingfield, but it does not serve as a residence. A 1974 fire inflicted extensive damage, leading to a later renovation. Today the gardens are open to the public while most of the first floor and greenhouses are given over to retail outlets and the Avoca Terrace Café, which, as we learned firsthand, serves a terrific lunch.
|Remains of stone oratory and round tower at Glendalough|
Between Powerscourt and Glendalough, we had a minor mishap on a narrow Irish country road, but that's another story for another day. By the time we left Glendalough, it was almost 3:30, which doesn't sound too late until you consider that the sun was headed over the horizon by 4:10. With 70 miles left to Kilkenny, we would be traveling across unknown territory in the dark. And half of that unknown was on cramped local roads that are barely one foot wider than a single lane on a U.S. interstate. With no verge or shoulder on most of these rural lanes, stone walls and thick hedges often abut or even overlap the edge of the asphalt. After more than two hours, we finally arrived at our hotel in Kilkenny amid rush hour in the rain.
Delighted to be off the road, we enjoyed an outstanding dinner meal in the Zuni restaurant attached to the hotel before collapsing into bed. Tomorrow we hope to see some sights in Kilkenny before heading to Waterford.
- Started in Dublin, ended in Kilkenny
- Mileage - 129 (Trip total: 5,059)
- Weather - 50° to 54°, clear to partly cloudy to rain
- Letterboxes - 2 finds
FRIDAY, 4 DECEMBER, 2015
More Photos from Today
|Hair dryer at the desk (can't use it in the bathroom!)|
|Winged horses at the Wingfield manor of Powerscourt|
|Japanese Garden at Powerscourt|
|One of the wider local Irish roads|
|Wicklow Valley between Powerscourt and Glendalough|