L and I are great travel planners. We probably get as much pleasure from planning a trip as we do from actually taking the trip. We spend weeks before a big trip, like this Ireland Road Trip, finding things to do, researching prices, opening hours, and how long to spend at each place.  We then put it all together in a logical order, estimate driving times, and see how much we can realistically fit in a day. Yes, we are “those” kinds of planners (which many people we know think is a bit much, but that’s a story for another day). Usually all of this planning pays off in spades as we merrily go from sight to sight making the most of our day out.

But sometimes the day just doesn’t go according to plan.

Such was the case on our first day in Ireland.

So here was the plan for the day-

  • Drive through the scenic Wicklow Mountains admiring all the stunning views
  • Tour the tentative UNESCO site of Glendalough monastic ruins (what I was most looking forward to on this day)
  • Visit the Upper Lake at Glendalough
  • Tour the Avoca Handweavers and watch the weavers hard at work
  • Finish the day at Huntington Castle

Let’s see how the day actually went shall we?

Up bright and early, after a good night’s rest, I was already over my jet lag and ready to hit the road. We had a hearty full Irish breakfast and set off to start our day with a drive through the scenic Wicklow Mountains, en route to Glendalough. But, well, the mountains and valleys weren’t exactly that scenic. Hmm… all those photos I had seen seem to promise green valleys and sparkling blue lakes (like this photo) . That’s not quite what we saw.

Wicklow Mountains || www.onetripatatime.comNo worries. It wasn’t summer so things weren’t quite as green as can be, and it was cloudy so it all looked a little dull. We just continued on dodging the crazy ambitious cyclists climbing the mountains and made our way to the really cool monastic site ahead while looking for more scenic views.

“Oh look L!” I exclaimed. “A waterfall. That’s scenic. Let’s pull over so we can take a look and get a little video.” But L couldn’t. For some reason the memory card in his camera decided it wasn’t formatted to take video- unlike every other card that has worked with no issues. *sigh* No worries L, I have a little bit of video we can share.  And this photo of said scenic view.

Wicklow Mountains || www.onetripatatime.comPlus the sheep were cute down in the valley below the waterfall.

Wicklow Mountains || www.onetripatatime.comWe were almost to Glendalough anyway and that was going to be SO cool.

So we pulled into the parking lot. And we drove around, and around, and around, and around….and around again. And once more for good measure. And there were absolutely no parking spots. There were several other cars also driving around the same parking lot, of which some got lucky and got a spot. We did not. Ah sheep poop. What a bummer.

“That’s OK”, we said. “Let’s go to the Upper Lake and then we’ll just come back and try again.” So off we went, there were parking spots galore so we hopped out to explore.

Glendalough Upper Lake || www.onetripatatime.com

Upper Lake – Please click to enlarge the photo. {Photo by L}


Glendalough Upper Lake Park || www.onetripatatime.com

{Photo by L}

The Upper Lake is really pretty and I can imagine it would be even more so on a sunny day with sparkling blue water. As it was the refection of the mountains in the smooth as glass water, along with a little rippling water by the shore, was worth the stop and photos.

We then wandered a little way from the lake to check out a few of the historical sites in the park. Once such site is called the Caher, which is a stone walled circular enclosure, about 20 metres in diameter. Its original purpose and age are still a mystery, but it is thought to be a prayer stopping point for those on a pilgrimage across the mountains. It also looked very much like the stone forts we’d see later in our trip, just on a smaller scale. There were also a few stone crosses on the grounds that are also thought to have been used during the pilgrimages.

Glendalough Upper Lake Park || www.onetripatatime.com

The Caher {Photo by L}


Glendalough Upper Lake Park || www.onetripatatime.comThe park has lots of other things to visit like a  couple of churches, a cave, the remains of a beehive hut, and hiking trails. It also looks like it is very popular with families as there were many there picnicing and just enjoying the day.

Read More: Wicklow Mountains National Park- Visiting Glendalough

We decided we’d head back to the other part of the park and try to find a parking spot again. If not successful, at the very least we figured we could pick up our Heritage Ireland passes that we’d be using the rest of the week, as we knew this was one of the sites where we could purchase them.

And that was all we were able to do as there still wasn’t any parking. L even tried to find some on the street while I was in the visitor’s center purchasing our cards from a very friendly lady who was quite sympathetic to our plight of not finding a place to park. Everyone in Ireland is friendly I tell you.

So with no parking to be found we decided to move on, find some lunch, and then head to Avoca Handweavers for a little tour and demonstration of the weaving process.

But guess what! There wasn’t a weaver working that day, nor was there anyone to guide a tour. Well darn it again. So we just wandered into one of the rooms, read about the history of the mill,  then went down to the little creek for a walk.

Avoca Mill || www.onetripatatime.comSince we were well ahead of schedule by this point we thought we might as well go back to Glendalough and try again. We are nothing if not persistent eh?  We remembered there had been quite a group of hikers arriving when we had been there earlier so maybe by this point they were ready to head home for the day. So off we went back to Glendalough.

Except now the police had the road blocked! Good grief. It was at that point we decided Glendalough just wasn’t meant to be on this visit and we called it a day. (Since we’ve been home we found out there was a Fun Run going on that day that had the road blocked, and likely why even along the streets were full of parked cars.)

So what do we do when our travel plans don’t pan out? We go to a castle!

We watch a lamb be born. We stroll through peaceful, pretty gardens. And we snuggle up under cosy blankets to relax, catch up, laugh about the day we’ve just had, and know that tomorrow is another day full of new adventures. Or maybe misadventures. Either one is just fine because we are in Ireland and we are together. Life is so good.

How about you? Have you had days where even your best laid plans didn’t work out?


To read more about our adventures on our Ireland Road Trip, please feel free to check out these posts:

Ireland Road Trip Summary

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