Tasting Irish Soda Bread in Dublin

We had breakfast at the hotel. We have some cheese and traditional soda bread. Soda bread is typical in Ireland and stands out because the yeast is replaced by baking soda. The taste and texture are different. We also have juice, milk and the girls ask us what you want for a hot dish. For the first day I prefer an Irish breakfast, which in this case included small beans with tomato, fried egg, loin and sausage. They also brought me a lot of tea.

We met with the guide in the hotel to go to the last of the excursions that we would do outside of Dublin. We were a small group. Back in the van we passed Merrion Square with its beautiful and recognizable Georgian houses and its colorful doors. The architect George Gardiner designed them with huge windows to see and be seen.

They were so rich that they did not care about the famous tax. On the other side, we see the Merrion Park very close by with the statue of Oscar Wilde. We have to go back. The guide tells us that it is not painted, what one might think when seen from afar, but that it is made with the four types of marble from Ireland.

We continue down the street where were many of the embassies . They are in the southern part of the city. We see the US embassy, ​​with a round shape. Next we find the headquarters of the Royal Dublin Society. Nearby is the Hotel Clayton where we see the Mason symbol. The reason is because the owners were freemasons.

The British Embassy is smaller and is closely monitored. The embassies of Holland and Spain are stuck. We head towards the Wicklow Mountains, which were declared a National Park. We went through Lake Tay, where the scenes of the Lady of the Lake in Excalibur were filmed. In this area a lot of movies and TV series have been shot.

Not in vain do we find a Hollywood Glen and even a Braveheart Drive for the famous movie by Mel Gibson. We also have, of course, the Excalibur Drive, which starts in the mountain town of Roundwood, the highest in Ireland and through which we passed. Let no one be fooled by that of the highest town.

It is barely 284 meters above sea level and as is normal in the towns of Ireland it does not have a main square. It is only a main avenue with its church, bar, Garda (police) and shops. The valley of Glendalough is, as its name clearly indicates, a valley between two lakes. It is a very beautiful glacial valley, full of vegetation, and with trails that can be easily covered. In his time it was such a quiet place that Saint Kevin decided to build a cave to live on the shores of the Upper Lake.

This saint was born in 498 in a family related to the royal house of Leinster. He became a monk when he was 15 years old. Eventually King O'Tool of Glendalough heard that Kevin could heal by laying on his hands. They had a domestic goose in their house that was very old and could not fly. The king asked him to cure it.

The saint asked for that land over which the goose flew when it recovered. He accepted, thinking it would be little but he was wrong. The animal got good and flew all over the valley. That valley was used to establish the Glendalough monastery.

We went through a double granite door although the wall is really short to be able to defend against external attacks, mainly from the Vikings. To one side we have a cross carved in the rock. It is a Latin cross called the king's stone. It is a stone of desires so I will touch it just in case.

As soon as we enter we find a lot of old tombs. As we are told now there is only room for one. The first building we visited is the oldest in the complex, the cathedral, from the 9th and 10th centuries, although the entrance arch is from the 12th century. We are struck by two things of the sepulchral floor tiles and the absence of a roof.

Of the first to say that they are not part of the original building; As for the second assessment, no, the roof was not made of wood as it is believed. It was made of stone, but supported by a wooden beam, but it only took Cromwell's presence to break it down.

There are several buildings scattered around that area, surrounded by tombs. It stands out by far the large circular tower of 30 meters. It was erected between the 10th and 11th centuries and at the end of the 19th century the stone ceiling was reconstructed with original materials. It would be as much for storage of food as for sighting danger or shelter when there was no other choice. These towers do not have stairs at ground level but several meters high. Nearby is the church from the 10th century, and the house of the priests, from the 12th century.

The name of one of the buildings is striking. It is not that the saint cooked there but that it was named for the chimney (or cylindrical tower). In fact, it is an oratory of the 11th or 12th century with a small sacristy attached to it. The stone roof remains intact, which leads us to believe that the cathedral also had a stone roof. Also striking is a magnificent cross of Saint Kevin.

A comfortable forest trail leads to the Upper Lake. The road is easy and pleasant, surrounded by lush vegetation. We see oaks, beech trees, holly trees. Not even clovers are missing, symbol of Ireland although I did not see any of the four leaves. It's a beautiful place. On one path we reach the Lower Lake.

All the surroundings are plagued by archaeological remains such as the hut that served as home, the Reefert church (church of the eleventh century and then mausoleum of the O'Toole) or bed of Saint Kevin, a which can only be reached by boat.

We left Glendalough not without first tasting the water. They say it's fantastic, so good that even Guinness beer is made with it. It is mineral, of course, but it has a certain taste that I do not like very much. We continue touring seeing forests cut and replanted, many of them for wood for IKEA.

We soon arrived at Powerscourt, our next stop and also movie set. It is an old Irish fortress that, like everything of value, ended up in English hands. The first viscount of Powerscourt, who wanted to be interesting, commissioned in 1730 the German architect Richard Castle to build a palace of 68 rooms in the style of Palladio, which was modified over time.

It became one of the most luxurious houses in Ireland. In 1974, just when a restoration had just been completed, Powerscourt house burned down. The rooms and the reception rooms were destroyed and only the thirteenth century walls, much more robust, are saved. It remained in ruins until 1997. Nowadays it has recovered its splendor. The house is rented for events and weddings. There is also a huge Avoca store.

We visited the gardens, which are fantastic. They occupy an area of ​​19 hectares that seem much more because the view confuses them with the surrounding landscape and Sugarloaf mountain that is seen in the background so called because it looks like one of those old sugar mounds that reached the kitchens of rixh houses. They have been chosen as one of the best in the world according to National Geographic.

We started the visit through the Italian gardens. The architect Daniel Robertson designed them in 1840 and it took 12 years to complete with 100 workers. You can see beautiful flowers and sculptures of gods of classical antiquity such as Diana or Apollo, which the sixth and seventh Lord Powerscourt collected in their travels in Europe.

We go to the right to find the walled gardens, one of the oldest parts of the park. There we see the memorial to Julia, a pond with flowers and statues dedicated to the seventh vicomtesse by her son. In the background is the Bamberg gate, which comes from the cathedral of that German city. The rose garden is also beautiful.

Bonito is also the dolphin pond, which the seventh vicomte bought in Paris at the end of the 19th century. Around we see huge trees. The gate is English and has the motives of roses (England) thistles (Scotland) and clubs (Ireland). The pet cemetery is one of the largest in Ireland. If there is up to the grave of a cow with the liters of milk that gave in life (expressed in gallons).

What is a pity is that the source of Lake Triton was turned off because the views of the mansion with it would be magnificent. It is inspired by the fountain of Piazza Barberini in Rome. Precious are the Japanese gardens, created by the eighth viscount of Powescourt in 1908. We delight in them with a detained walk and many photos. The view from the bank above is magnificent.

In the gardens there are species of all kinds. And there is no lack of rhubarb with its huge leaves (we take photos to make it look great). Beyond is the Valley of the Tower, with huge trees. It receives the name of the Peperpot Tower that we see, in imitation of a pepper grinder that the owner of the house had.

They told us that the children of the family did not stop bothering with the grinder, so the father decided to make them a giant size. The tower can be climbed but the trees are so tall and leafy and the tower is not too high so the views do not change much.

In the vicinity there is a golf club (a sport they are very fond of in Ireland), a luxury hotel and 7 kilometers from Powerscourt waterfall, the highest in Ireland with 121 meters and very cinematic. We left the farm, and, going through a bridge where a fight between King Arthur and Lancelot was filmed in Excalibur, we went to eat.

The chosen point is the Johnnie Fox's pub, which is said to be the highest pub in Ireland. It is also one of the oldest (opened in 1798) and certainly the most famous. There they say that they accumulate relics. I would rather call it the trousseau because there is everything there and for all tastes.

There is no corner that is not full of odds and ends. I have seen on the Internet that people criticize it a lot for that. I think, on the other hand, that it's part of their charm and one could spend hours looking at what they have.

For the first course we took a vegetable cream with Irish soda bread without buttermilk. It is very hot but very good. In the second we could choose between Irish stew with a puff pastry half moon or a vegetable lasagna. The two options were fine so we shared them. For dessert they gave us chocolate cake and then tea or coffee.

We returned to Dublin at 5 o'clock. As we got off near the post office building, we took advantage of the opportunity to go and see some more things. We toured the Custom House building and the river banks.

The Phoenix park is 709 hectares long and is one of the largest urban parks in the world. It is so big that inside is the house of the president of the Republic and the one of the ambassador of the USA. The name comes from the Irish word fionn uisce which means clear water.

It is full of monuments such as the one dedicated to Wellington (a huge obelisk of 63 meters) or the column of Phoenix (in theory with a phoenix on top, although some say it is an eagle). It was created in 1662 as a deer reserve (there are still) and was remodeled to be a public park in 1745. Next door is the zoo, where the famous MGM lion was from.

We retraced our steps and returned to the family hotel where dinner is waiting for us. First, we take a salad with goat cheese and other vegetable soup. In the second there is fish breaded with potatoes, cheeseburger and bacon or chicken breast in a sauce with mushrooms and rice. For dessert we shared egg custard and chocolate brownie with hot chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

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