If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I have no class on Fridays. I had quite a long night out at the pubs the night before with some of my DIT classmates, so I allowed myself to sleep in pretty late. I was groggily finding my way to my shiny new French Press when my roommate popped her head into my bedroom. “Do you want to go to Howth today?” she asked. I eagerly said yes without hesitation, even though the train schedule and the length of the walk to the station allowed me basically 15 minutes to get ready to go. I threw a hat over my bed-head, brushed my teeth quickly and we headed out on our wonderful last-minute adventure.
Howth is a small fishing village just a 20-minute train ride outside of Dublin. The round-trip tickets were about 5 Euros, which is pretty good considering I would spend about the same on a couple MetroLink rides in St. Louis to go just a few miles downtown. We caught the train a little after 2 p.m., allowing for us coffee fiends in the group to caffeinate ourselves and grab a quick breakfast for the road.
I barely had enough time to finish my Americano before we got off at the end of the line. We just walked straight into the beautiful little town, not knowing where we were going. Oddly enough, all of the girls I’ve met here are photographers and Andrew and Taylor are both into photography as well, so everyone but me was armed with their big SLR cameras. We all felt a little silly, like a group of paparazzi. Immediately we made our way towards the sparkling blue water, which was set off perfectly by the whitewashed boats parked in the harbor.
We knew that there were cliffs nearby, so we decided to weave our way upward, following roads that seemed to be angled in that direction. Along the way, we came across some adorable houses and a stately cathedral. I found a cemetery that we passed quite lovely as well, small and beautiful with unique decorations on each individual grave. They each were clearly carefully kept up and gave off their own personal vibe. It made me critical of the very prescribed and impersonal way graves are arranged in the United States.
One of my favorite parts of the walk towards the cliffs was when we came upon what looked like a little farm, with little patches of garden and a few sheds. There were roosters clucking about and I even spotted two pigs, black and pink, scurrying past. It was an incredible spot made to enjoy, with a chair situated out towards the view of the harbor. I dreamed of walking out there in my pajamas with a cup of coffee every morning.
We walked down what we thought was a public road and were greeted by two pups, one of which was not so happy to see us. However, the one that stuck around was irresistibly adorable. It was a small little guy that looked like a cross between a sheep and some small, round breed of dog. He picked up a stick and then just ran around between all of us, showing off and reveling in the attention we showered him with. We made quite a little scene over him, dog lovers that we all are. As we rounded a corner, followed by the pup, a woman called out from some hidden spot, “Sorry, but this is private property! You want to go down the road and take a right!” Embarrassed and laughing we made our way out of this woman’s property and said goodbye to the dog (who we had by then named Charlie).
We walked up and up. I guess truthfully I was more moseying. My pace is much slower than everyone else in the group, it seems. On the way we saw some horses and more impressive properties. The sun was beginning to go down, and everything looked even more beautiful in the warm orange light. School must have let out at some point during this time, because on this leg of the journey, we ran into a couple of groups of young boys in school uniforms. I must say the kids in Ireland have been extra-cute. We asked them which way to the cliffs to make sure we were still on the right track and hadn’t somehow managed to intrude on another innocent person’s property. They said we were headed in the right direction, and asked us where we were from.
“America, eh?” one said in jest. “Hot dogs on every corner!!” We laughed at his weirdly truthful assessment of our homeland and continued. They called back to us, “He’s from America too!” gesturing towards a boy in the back of the group. We asked where in America as a small, very blonde boy came out of the crowd to wave. “I’m from San Franciscooo!” he called to us, smiling and waving.
We made it to the cliffs, greeted by greeted by some Irish hooligans, rolling around on bikes and blaring American rap music in the parking lot where people can park their cars and hike along the trails carved out along the cliffs. The irony of the juxtaposition of the ugly music with the beautiful scene was not lost on me.
We pushed forward, alternatively stopping to snap pictures and just to sit down and take it all in. Pictures or words really can’t quite capture the beauty of this moment. Andrew pointed out the the fog and the colors of the sea and sky were such that you could hardly distinguish the water from the air on the horizon. The grass along the sides of the cliff was so green, and sprinkled with bright yellow flowers. Below, I could see the blue waters crashing white against the rocky shore. The air smelled so clean and it was quiet.
We walked and stopped and walked and stopped, intermittently chirping variations of “This is incredible.” Meanwhile it was getting a little darker and a lot colder. We went a little off course through a patch of thorny branches and ventured very close to the edge. We threw rocks over the sides of the cliffs and I immediately was reminded of my fear of heights and had to cover my eyes when my friends took a photo with their backs facing the edge.
As we made our way to where we entered the trail, the sun was just setting. We all walked, silently affected by what we had seen, towards dinner. We had been advised before we left that the best fish and chips could be found at a restaurant called The Bloody Stream (unfortunate, I know). So, we all squeezed at a table and feasted on the hot, fried goodness before heading back to the city.