Even if it feels strange, it is important to take a break!
One drizzly, dark early July morning in Dublin, I felt very tempted to travel outside of Ireland. I even went so far as looking up package deals to the places that many Irish would usually flock to. It was possible to get to a decent resort in the lovely Algarve in Portugal for under 200 euro. For about fifteen minutes I toyed with the idea as a way to escape the disappointing weather for the time of year. We are all creatures of habit and for the past 20 years, since I could afford a sun holiday, it is automatic behaviour to surf the web for the best deal, click and pack and leave all clouds and troubles behind for a week.
These are different times though and quickly I had to step away from the day dream and come back to reality. We are still in this together and at all times need to ground ourselves and remember that it is not a catastrophe if we can’t hop on a plane to the sun. I decided to see it as an opportunity to get to know our country even more. Ireland has so many great places to see and things to do. The weather doesn’t have to be sunny to enjoy the beauty of this small country. With that in mind, I decided to pack a case and leave Dublin for three nights to the sunny Southeast, county Waterford. Leaving Dublin felt good late Thursday evening and at 22 degrees Celsius/ 70 Fahrenheit, nobody could complain about the weather. By the way, in Ireland, with that type of temperature, we are on the verge of a heatwave!
Waterford is about a 2-hour drive from Dublin and is well connected by bus and rail but we took the car. We checked into our hotel and immediately it certainly felt very different to the pre-Covid experience. As one might expect, there were hand sanitizers at every corner, there were pens to sign in and to place in a separate box for sanitization, staff were either wearing masks or vizors and it was clear to see that young waiters and bar staff were still adjusting to this new way of working. Some used a slightly more common-sense approach with things but others were taking no chances. Overall, it felt like staff were serious and had a job to do. We love the craic (fun in the Irish language) but on this occasion there wasn’t much craic to be had. There were no nightly entertainment and banter in the bar and people were still restricted by the maximum table time, 90 minutes. All this being said, the views from our room were of the marina and were spectacular and made up for any tension in the air downstairs. Only thing was that we were thirsty for tea but there wasn’t a sign of a cup or a teabag. This was yet another measure in place but we could live with it.
After a super sleep in a comfy bed it was time to explore all this place had to offer. If you ever make it to Ireland you have got to experience the Waterford Greenway. Also known locally as the Déise Greenway, it is a Rail trail in County Waterford, Ireland, used for cycling and hiking. At 46km, it is Ireland's longest greenway and features 11 bridges, three viaducts and a 400-metre tunnel and runs between the city of Waterford, Mount Congreve, Kilmeaden, Kilmacthomas, and Dungarvan, and passes along part of the Copper Coast. Bikes were easy to hire in the city centre and we used the day to cycle and stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. There were people of all ages on scooters, on bikes, on foot and some on roller blades!
Saturday was a continuation of the outdoors and this time in for a dip at the blue flag beach Tramore, about 20 km from Waterford City Centre. Every possible leisure activity is catered for in the town itself, or in the surrounding areas. Outdoor activities and sports of every type, indoor activities including horse and greyhound racing, theatre, cinema and a wide variety of quality restaurants. If you can’t take a surfboard with you, there are many places that offer hire of these and wetsuits. Probably best to bring your own though but it is still good to know.
We ended the evening in Brooklyn, Tramore. A lovely little seafood restaurant with a great vibe and delicious foods and wine! I had the lobster and crab ravioli and can safely say that it was the best pasta dish I’ve had in my entire life!
Will I return? Absolutely. Next time though I'd love to have a group of Arcadia Study Abroad students with me. I can feel this cycle of the Greenway fitting in perfectly with our Active Ireland theme of Arcadia University Ireland Co-Curricular events. Perhaps even a combined trip to the medieval city of Kilkenny, visit the castle. An "overnighter" maybe. Maybe a trip to the Japanese Gardens near Tramore or a tour of Waterford Crystal. Okay I'm dreaming again but that is okay!