Howth, Ireland, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

Friday, May 26: Back in Howth, Ireland

First, a quick summary of Thursday, May 25. We drove back to Exeter, dealt with the car damage, took the bus to the train station, and given the tragedy that had just happened in Manchester, I did not want to go back into London. We got off the train in Reading, took a bus to Heathrow, and took a hotel shuttle to our room at a Doubletree Hilton in Hounslow, where we had dinner at the hotel restaurant and relaxed for the flight to Ireland the next day. The police presence at the Tube station at Heathrow was a little disturbing. We couldn’t get our Oyster cards loaded for a ride into London if we had wanted or needed to, at least not right then, because they closed the station.

However, Sandy did get this shot from the train. We thought it was the White Horse of Uffington, but it turned out to be the Pewsey White Horse. Still cool, and the most interesting photo from this day.

The next day, we flew back to Ireland, got back on the bus and DART train to Howth, then took a taxi with our luggage back to Gleann Na Smol, where Sean met us at the door. This time we had energy to walk to the harbour and back. Sean recommended the Oarhouse on the pier, but they were having a record day because of the lovely weather and we hung around for a long time on the pier before they let us sit at the bar and eat. (At first, they turned us away but we pleaded.) The family that owned the restaurant also owned the boats that brought in the seafood, so I rated this the best meal we had on our trip.

On the way back, we stopped at the Cock Tavern, which was recommended as a pub where the locals go to hear and play music. A couple at a table offered to share it with us, we ordered pints of Smithwick’s at the bar, and enjoyed the rest of the night listening to a local musician who sang everything from traditional music to Prince to Guns and Roses (in honor of the superfan patrons on their way to a GNR concert the next day). The friendly couple told me stories about the “local lunatics.” One of the best nights ever!

AND, the next day we got up at the crack of dawn, took a taxi to the airport, and flew to JFK on Aer Lingus, which I liked a lot despite being in enormous pain seated in a middle seat of the middle row of the plane. They had a good selection of movies and TV shows, which allowed Sandy to almost get caught up on Games of Thrones while I watched La La Land and Bridget Jones’s Baby. At JFK, we found out that we were lucky that we decided to fly from London to Ireland on Friday when the British Airways computer system and created chaos at Heathrow. We had some delays, but finally we walked in our front door at about 10 p.m. that night.

Cliff walks, Howth, Ireland, United Kingdom/Ireland trip

Stopover in Howth, Ireland – a rather mundane travel tale, with photos at the end

Sandy and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary by going to England, with a stopover in Dublin for one night on the way there and one night on the way back. When we got a good deal on airfare from Hopper, it included a 7 hour layover at Dublin Airport, which was of course was too short to do anything fun, so I booked a B&B in Howth, Dublin, not too far from the airport, and we flew to London the following day for about as much as it would have been anyway. Besides, you know how we love Ireland, how could we resist?

That part is a bit interesting because when we got to Raleigh Durham airport around 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, the people at the Jet Blue counter informed us that our flight had been delayed from JFK, and that was a common occurrence in the late afternoon at JFK, and that we probably wouldn’t have made our connection anyway. So they rerouted our flight through Boston and London, giving us the option of getting off in London where we were headed in the first place. But it was too late to cancel the room in Howth, and it didn’t take long to make the decision that even though it would be a longer flight, we wanted to go to Ireland first. The Jet Blue staff put us in upgraded seats and I have now officially become a fan of Jet Blue and may switch my points card over to them from Southwest once I get my travel done for this year. The other takeaway was to avoid JFK like the plague if at all possible.

We knew that we would be exhausted on the first day. Sitting for more than an hour causes me a lot of pain and I couldn’t sleep. The British Airways flight from Boston to London was okay. We were served a meal around 11 p.m. with wine and I recall that the food wasn’t bad, although even I knew that the wine was shite. We got to Dublin around noon on Sunday, May 14, where we took a long meandering bus ride to Sutton, got on the DART train to Howth, and found ourselves in a crowded seaside town with no phone service or wifi, and relying on my memory of the map and address of the B&B. The tourist information kiosk was no help. No one we asked knew where Kilrock Road was, or maybe they didn’t understand our accents. There was a jolly man who was driving a little tourist “train” up and down the main drag who gave us a ride as far in that direction as he went for free, and I bless him for that.

And here’s where we learned that the backpack idea was not a good one. The map in my head did not indicate altitude. The street we walked up, although very picturesque along the edge of the sea, was extremely steep. We found Kilrock Rd. but I did not have an address other than a postal code. We faced another uphill street, we were soaked with sweat, and I got worried about Sandy. He sat at the bottom of the street with our bags while I set out to find the B&B, which turned out to be one block away at the top of the street. Sandy said, “Well, I know now that if my heart survived that, it will survive anything.”

It was about 3 p.m., the B&B was locked, and I sat down on my backpack and wept. Fortunately Sean had just stepped out quickly, and he turned out to be one of the nicest, most helpful people on our journey. He got us into a very comfortable room where we both crashed for about 3-4 hours. Then Sean drove us down the street to the Abbey Tavern for dinner, where I had “fisherman’s pie” and an Irish red ale. We walked past the abbey ruins back down to the harbour at sunset, where the weekend crowd had gone home. We took a cab back up the hill for the short ride to the B&B – it turned out that there was a shorter, less strenuous ascent, but we were still too whupped to do it.

The next morning, Sean served the guests an insanely delicious full breakfast and we chatted with a German couple about our plans and our favorite travels so far. We asked Sean about a cab to the airport and he offered to drive us! Then, when I got ready to pay him for our night’s stay, it turned out that he didn’t take credit cards and I didn’t have the cash. We offered to go to an ATM, but he insisted that we seemed like honest sorts and that he’d get the payment from us on our way back through in two weeks.

I decided to take a misty walk up the Howth Cliff Path until Sean was ready, part of which we had walked on our first journey into town.

May is an excellent time for wildflowers in the British Isles.