This week I got to visit one of my favorite areas in Ireland so far: and I don’t even know what to call it. It’s along the N11, between Dublin and Greystones. I guess you could call it the East Wicklow Hills (but a friend told me that those from Wicklow wouldn’t call them hills, they are mountains.) My first experience was over a year ago, for a friend’s hen. And ever since then, I can’t get enough. I find myself very jealous of the locals in this area, thinking someday (in my dreams) it’d be amazing to own a little holiday home there.
For accommodation, I love the Glenview Hotel. This is for two reasons: it’s location on the mountainside and its breakfast room. If you stay there and don’t do bed and breakfast, you may as well not stay there at all. A friend of mine who loves to swim said she adds the Roman style pool to the top of her favorite reasons list…I’m not a huge swimmer, but I thoroughly enjoyed the jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Because of its location, built into the side of the hill, it’s possible to get a terrible view (of a hill four feet from your window) or a good view (of the surrounding mountains.) This was my third time staying here and, for the first time, I copped on to ask for a room with a view! And I didn’t regret it. Obviously, as pictured from my summer visit, it is more beautiful when the trees aren’t bare as they are now, but it was still lovely.
There are quite a few great places within a 15 minute drive that I will briefly tell you about, but go explore for yourself–these are just some of our faves…(I apologize in advance for my lack of photos; this is more of an overview of these spots; I’m sure one day I’ll post more in-depth writings on many of these places.)
Heading south on the N11 toward Greystones is our favorite date spot, the Firehouse Bakery in Delgany. If you are fortunate enough to go, you will not regret this decision. Cosy, small, and with a welcoming aroma of fresh bread, pastries, or wood fired pizza (depending on which part of the day you visit), this little restaurant will steal your heart- and your taste buds…if you can find a table. You will find that you are not the only one who has heard about this little not-so-well-kept secret. They are open daily from morning until 5:30pm and fri/sat until 9:30pm. In the back of the Bakery is the Delgany Grocer, a beautifully laid out mostly organic shop that sells everything from pasta and homemade cookies to seafood and raw coconut oil. Upstairs is the Pigeon House Cafe, a new restaurant open daily for breakfast and lunch, and Thursday-Saturday for dinner. We will get there one day for dinner I hope, as they have a terribly inviting couch in front of a gorgeous fireplace I can see myself and Ben spending an evening enjoying together. someday…
If you keep driving you will end up in the lovely beach town of Greystones. This is a nice walking village with a beautiful beach front, some great independent shops and yummy eateries. There is a cute little coffee shop called Summervilles that won my heart for it’s yellow shop front, plates on the walls, and chai tea lattes. If you like healthy, delicious food, The Happy Pear is a great choice, especially on a warm, sunny day, as they have seating out front. We did find out (after passing up eating there a few times on account of rainy weather) that they have indoor seating upstairs. So I guess the weather is not a determining factor in whether or not you should eat there. Connected to the restaurant (if you can call it that…) is a small shop selling high quality fruit and veg, along with other handmade and unique food items you might find in an upscale grocery market.
The Tuesday we were there we decided to head north on the N11 a few minutes to the Avoca in Kilmacanoge.
This is my 6th Avoca experience, and my favorite thus far. It’s my new happy place. (I wish I lived closer, but my pocketbook is glad I don’t!) Each Avoca has common threads throughout, but I find each to be unique as well. They recently added a food market that is beautiful and everything looked so extremely delicious. There is a butcher, seafood market, sushi, fresh baked goods, a rotisserie chicken counter, and lots of ready to eat items for takeaway. They have added a whole wine section and a healthfood grocer also. Apart from those, is the fantastic gift and clothes shop they are known for, as well as a restaurant and cafe. I just love it there so much. And apparently this is the time of year to shop there. We just happened upon their after Christmas sale and found some great buys.
The last evening we were there we met up with a group of friends at Johnnie Fox’s, known as the highest pub in Ireland. It was established in 1798 and I’m thinking not much has changed since then…which lends greatly to its charm. Typical of most of the great pubs, it seems to go on and on, room after room, drawing you back time and time again, even if just to have a pint in each room. They have traditional Irish music every night, which is a delightful cultural experience in itself. They are renowned for their seafood and our party thoroughly enjoyed their mussels, seafood chowder and seafood pie. That is not to say they don’t have non-seafood options…I had a yummy steak and two of our friends had their HUGE platter of ribs. The music started at 9pm and he was a great musician and entertainer-it was the cherry on top to the whole evening.
So, as you can see, this area has so much more than meets the eye when you’re cruising down the mtoroway at a million miles an hour. Get on hotels.com, book yourself a night or two at the Glenview and galavant around, enjoying every moment of it. Who knows, you might see me sitting down at the Avoca cafe with a cup of tea and a life-size portion of pavlova right in front of me.