After 10+ hours of traveling, we laboriously flop into an airport taxi. Initial laughter and shock commence after seeing the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car, it’s much different mentally envisioning what it might look like than actually seeing it.
My copilot Sam sits in the front seat, after initially approaching the drivers side out of habit. Our driver asks us where we’re going, and away we drive. A short few minutes into the drive Sam asks the question. The question. The question that is imperative when traveling to a new location.
“Where do you like to go around here?”
With minimal hesitation our adorably accented cab driver spits out the word “Howth” followed by instructions on how to get there. “Take the DART to Howth, go to The Summit Bar, and walk to the back of the pub. From there you’ll see a grand view of Dublin.”
Knowing nothing of what a “DART” was, I quickly wrote HOWTH in the note pad of my phone, after asking him twice to spell it aloud due to his unique pronunciation (of which we discovered everyone said slightly different, and I’m still not sure of the correct way to say the word.)
After a little bit of research, and lots of asking for help/directions we figure out how to get to Howth. We spend the morning exploring the tourist attractions of Dublin, and head for Howth around 2p.
The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is an electric rail system that takes you all over Dublin, and into other cities as well. The ride itself was grand, giving views of other areas, but upon pulling into the final stop we were greeted with a view we were not expecting.
Howth is located at the outer edge of Dublin, and is the last stop of the DART. The peninsula views were breathtaking.
We had no plans on this peninsula, other than finding The Summit Bar. Until we saw the island in the above photo. We sat, we stared, and then we saw the ferry boats.
“You guys want to go to the island?”
Ten euro later we stepped foot onto Ireland’s Eye. No second thoughts. Impromptu adventures to accompany the already impromptu trip to Howth. The procedure for getting from the boat to the island was simple. Just climb up the rocks like a spider monkey.
The instructions from the captain were straight forward, “be back before the boat leaves, and watch out for the Gannet nests.” I thought nothing of the last instruction partly because I had no idea what the hell a Gannet was, and partly because I was so enamored by the castle.
That’s when I saw them. The illusive Gannet. A bird that looks much like a Seagull. And they.were.everywhere. The nests were like landmines, one wrong step and the Gannet would cry a sound that haunts your dreams.
Rightfully so, this island is where they breed and raise their young. I tried to communicate to them that we came in peace, but they didn’t quite understand human language.
Every step became a calculated equation. Don’t get too close, and don’t make eye contact when the mother starts gurgling at you. My focus was turned to the top of the island, I wanted to step foot on the summit of it.
Uncertain of why no one else seemed interested in climbing the island, we found two other brave souls to follow. The four of us carefully avoided being blown up by the landmines and headed towards the summit.
Look close – upper right of the hill. A GANNET FACE.
The closer we got, the harder it was to find a designated path. Not that this has stopped me before, so I attempted my own. I momentarily deviated from the pack, and when trying to catch back up I slipped on a rock. And fell. On my ribs. Hard.
Too concerned with reaching the top I pushed the pain out of my mind. The pain never went away. The entire trip. In fact the pain is still here as I write this post. Over two weeks later (albeit they’re not as painful as they were at the beginning.) I definitely bruised them, and my luck would cause this to happen on the second day of the trip. HA.
Pain aside, we discovered the summit was LOADED with nests and the four of us decided to head back to the center of the island where the smart people were. But not before one of the other guys was DIVE BOMBED by the part of the equation we forgot.
Walking turned to jogging as we tried to avoid a painful death by Gannet. With the luck of the Irish we made it back to civilization unscathed. Never have I seen a sight like these nests, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
Bruised ribs and all.
We made it safely back to the mainland and set our sights on finding The Summit Bar. The Cliffs Notes version of this part of the story is that the bar was far. Really far having already walked around for the entire day. Alas, over an hour and many large hills later we found it.
On the walk to the bar
I ate my body weight in potatoes, which tasted like angel tears and fireworks. Potatoes in Ireland are TOP NOTCH. From here we made our way to the “back of the pub” which turned out wasn’t literal, and we had to walk a little further to find the Cliff Path Loop.
Worth every mile.
We took the scenic path back to the DART station, and I slept very hard that night. I didn’t get to thank our cab driver for the suggestion because we ended up taking the bus out of Dublin to obtain our rental car the next day, but I hope the universe somehow lets him know we appreciated his suggestion.
Travel Tip: Always, always ask the locals where they like to hangout. Often times it’s off the beaten path allowing you to fully submerge yourself in their culture.