Day 8: Waterford to Dublin and First Impressions of Scotland

Glendine Country House continued to exceed our expectations with a devine homemade breakfast. Unlike most of the other B&B’s, Glendine had a pretty full menu, which made it hard to decide; I opted for poached eggs on a potato waffle. They also had a sidebar with homemade yogurt, homemade jams, rhubarb compote, scones/biscuits, and homemade butter. I hope we’ll get to go back again someday to that B&B, because I loved the whole experience.

I’m sure everyone will be shocked to learn that we decided not go to Waterford Crystal, even though we were right there in Waterford. We probably should have gone the day before, but considering how far we would have had to back-track, it turned out to be a wise decision.

We packed up, checked out, and sadly left the Glendine Country House, and started the very long drive (about four hours) to County Meath (just north of Dublin) to see Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth – three ancient burial sites within a few miles of each other. We stopped for a plain cafeteria-style lunch at a pub, and I had my last Bulmer’s cider.

The street signs are NOT correct for Newgrange, and it was not easy to find like we’d been led to believe. We got lost and ended up going to the some historic battlefield that I can’t remember the name of to get directions at the tour office.

We had NO idea how hugely popular Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth were going to be. Basically, you park at a huge visitors center, pay your fee to see which (or all) of the three mounds, and take a bus to them from the visitors center. I guess it keeps people in controlled groups, and keeps the mounds from being destroyed with the amount of visitors. Due to the delays in finding the place, by the time we got there, the Newgrange bus all booked up for the rest of the day. There was some confusion, as we thought at first that we’d missed our chance to see ANY of the mounds, but found that we came just in time to catch the next bus to Knowth instead.

I know that Newgrange is supposed to be impressive, but boy howdy, were we completely overwhelmed by its smaller neighbor, Knowth. We had an American guide for the 30 or so of us on the tour, and every tidbit was fascinating, despite being caught in a heavy drizzle of rain. We got to go inside a small part of Knowth, took lots of pictures of the carved stone surrounding it, and I even touched the fertility stone when no one was looking. It was incredible.

For those who don’t know what Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth are, they are enormous burial mounds that pre-date the Egyptian pyramids. Since they are so old, and the ancient people of that area did not have written records, there’s really not much known about them. Each of the mounds lines up astrologically with different solstices of the year, the most famous being the one in Newgrange, where if your name gets drawn from a lotto, you can stand in the tomb on the winter solstice and watch the sun shine straight down the corridor to highlight a grave for about 15 minutes. They’ve also not deciphered the hundreds of carved stones that surround the burial mounds. Some of Ireland’s most famous symbols, like the spirals, come from these carvings. The mounds are well worth the trip, and I’d go again (and go early and get my tickets in advance, if I can).

After taking the bus from the site back to the visitor’s center, we drove back south towards Dublin to airport in the rain. I was glad I bought my rain coat; we needed to find one for Heath, though. Plus, we were overdue to wash our clothes, and I needed at least one more warm shirt.

We had an uneventful flight from Dublin to Glasgow, Scotland. From the start, our impressions of Glasgow were not that great. We’d expected things to go as smoothly as they did in Ireland, but they did not, as we found out over the next few days. There were excessively rude chicks at the luggage area that I almost threw my bag at (but did manage to hit one in the leg as I was removing the big suitcase). The next trial was a ridiculously long line to wait for a taxi outside the airport.

And the topper of the day? Our super-expensive, hotel, promisingly named The Victorian, was staffed with cranky rude people, was dingy, dark, and creepy. Our room was in the basement, with a door leading directly outside, that didn’t make either of us feel very safe. The room was dank, with stains on the carpet, and the comforter looked like something your brother might have had on his bed as a child – faded with bleach spots, and stains. Bonus? Some drunk idiot pounding on a door a floor above us (we were at the bottom of a stairwell) for like ten minutes in the middle of the night, until Heath angrily leapt out of bed naked, and shouted at him to go to the front desk like a normal person and get a key from the clerk, because it was obvious that the room in question was unoccupied or the occupants unavailable. I still can’t believe we how much we paid that much for that room. UGH!

Pictures from our time at Knowth can be found here.

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