2 weeks ago I was working with my Manager (Renata) at reception one early Sunday morning in Isaacs Hostel. Now I won’t mention if any of us were suffering from the usual Saturday night dose of “food poisoning”, but needless to say we were not as shiny as we normally were. (A back drop to this story, I recently completed the first 165km of the Camino De Santiago Compestella one month beforehand which had also been a hot topic with Renata, she was always bombarding me with questions about it. She wanted to do it later in the year.)
So back to our Sunday morning shift, one of our guests checks in with a huge back pack, slightly disheveled appearance. She had just completed the Wicklow Way, camping in the wild and hiking the 132 km trail. We instantly bonded over blisters, rushed excited conversations about sleeping arrangements and altitude jargon etc. Now the next 5 minutes go by in a blur, suddenly Renata is involved in the conversation and a trail book is donated to us and rosters are pre-determined. I now find myself at the helm of my managers enthusiasm for a “trial Camino”, I’m booked in to endure the first 3 days of the Wicklow Way. Damn that Saturday night food poisoning!! I must have somehow committed myself. Had I already forgotten the pain from the last 165km?
The next 2 weeks flew by, and neither of us planned a thing, barely looked at the map book. Admittedly I was feeling a little arrogant having already excelled in the hiking department So the afternoon before the trip we finally talk about our plan, which basically involved a Dublin Bus no 16 to Marlay Park. And a few giggles about how we have organised NOTHING, ahh it will be fine. We live here. We talk about this stuff at work to our guests all the time.
We meet at the Spire on O’Connell St for the bus. Head to Marlay Park, get off the bus. Guide book says: Get off bus cross the park and follow the Wicklow Way. (Para-phrasing here…) What the Guide book should of said was: Avoid Marlay Park if its building barricades for a 2 day festival. Also, don’t ask all the contract staff who are setting it up for directions. Allow 2 hours to find your way into the park and out of it, with a toilet stop on the way too. Please add 5 km to your already 21km long day (because you already done one lap of the park)!!!!It seems the locals have never walked the Wicklow Way either. Now Renata has a Polish Accent and I have an Australianish one. But my ego always feels compelled to explain to everyone that we live here we are not tourists!!! Until now.
Oh its fine, we made it. A giggle and a sworn to secrecy pact. We are finally following the yellow arrows we have longed to find. Remincisant of the Camino, I reassure myself ‘I’ve got this!’ We are fine now Renata, yellow arrows an all!
An easy 2 hours later: our pre planned pit stop Johnnie Fox’s Pub (highest pub in Ireland) came out of no where. That was easy! Great, lunch and a well deserved Pint of Guinness! Savage pub, everyone reading this please GO! Time to finish our last 12 KM to our destination Knockree Hostel. Always reading the map book, following our yellow arrows. Zig zag through a forest, check. Pass through town, check. 10Km later final approach to our resting place. Hostel should be on the way, looking out for signs. Feet starting to remember the pain of shoes too small. 2 Km to go…easy. Time check 18:30. Not bad…we did start late. And then…
Out of nowhere! We find ourselves walking on a footbridge over the Motorway in Dublin near Bray! WTF? BRAY. No..not possible. Bray? No Renata! Im so lost for words (That never happens to me) super glued to the ground beneath me. I can’t take one more step; for I know it will be in the WRONG DIRECTION! I know this for sure because there is no F*&@ing Mountains in front of me!!!!! For people who don’t understand: We basically walked ourselves 12Km in the wrong direction back to Dublin. Disaster! What to do? What to do? What to do? Another 12km hike to our hostel or a quick train back home? Or a third option…we hailed a taxi that was next to the bottleshop, and drove to our hostel. HAHAHAHA! 30 Euros and a bottle of red later we find our amazing Knockree Hostel with amazing views of Sugarloaf Mountain (yes! we found the mountains) Stunning, it was worth it! No restaurant for dinner, but we had 2 boiled eggs, 2 apples and a bottle of wine. No more required.
NB: The Wicklow Way and the Dublin Mountain Way cross paths. And both trails are posted with yellow arrows. The Irish. They could pick another colour??
The next 2 days were relatively easier. I won’t say that we got lost after the first day but I won’t say that we didn’t either. But there were no taxi’s involved. We only contemplated hitchhiking twice. But we walked every inch to Glendalough. Amazing views, stunning scenery of waterfalls, and a few thousand sheep. I know this because Renata insisted in pointing out every sheep she saw. She doesn’t like cows, so I never seen any of those
- Buy bigger shoes
- Johnnie Fox Pub not on the WICKLOW WAY (that was our defining moment)
- Be less arrogant about the wilderness
- Don’t go to work with a hangover…you might end up planning a holiday with your Boss lol