I crashed early last night.
The late night with Dominic caught up with me, and I fell asleep by 10:00 pm. I awoke early, and caught breakfast as the hostel started serving, at 7:00 am. I headed out to find an additional box, tape, and ideally a hardware store. The bike shop closest to the hostel didn’t open until 11:00 am. The hardware store I found didn’t open until 9:00 am. I carried on looking for tape. Along the way, I stopped by one of the farther away bike stores offering a box today, but they didn’t have a box to offer. Tesco didn’t open until 9:00 am, but from them I stocked up on tape. Back at the hardware store on the way back to the hostel, I managed to find all the components of my fork protector (see June 10).
I still wanted a second box, but decided to have faith in the shop near the hostel. Lacking complete faith, if they failed me I could make do with one box. I headed out. Researching what to do today, I kept finding things in Dublin I didn’t want to do, and guided tours to castles in the surrounding area. Mapped out, the castles formed an arc around Dublin. I needed only to return to Dublin before the bike shops closed, both to make a final attempt at a box, and to have a bike shop remove the pedals (avoiding the panic situation – see June 10). I planned a semi-circular route to permit a direct short return to Dublin early if time ran out.
I haven’t biked unloaded for a while – an invigorating change. Ashford Castle sat in Phoenix Park in Dublin. Only available by guided tour, I caught the tour at 11:00 am as it started. Renovations on Ashford Castle only finished recently. They discovered the castle when knocking down an estate house built around it, and reconstructed it. They did a great job – simple.
I saw Dunsloughly Castle for the first time on my first visit to Ireland. It stands in a farmer’s field as a ruin. I wondered whether the castle might be more accessible many years later, and it sits between Ashford Castle and Swords Castle. Unfortunately, more restrictions exist on the castle than before; I could only get a few zoomed pictures at distance.
I could not remember whether I visited Swords Castle previously. The large sign out front proudly announced they opened the castle to visitors in June, 2015. Unfortunately I arrived just as the staff closed for lunch. I decided to wait until they re-opened, ate lunch, and wandered around Swords a bit. They have a long way to go on the castle renovations, so the site should continue to improve.
The staff (who also serve as Tourist Information) strongly recommended Malahide Castle, the next in the arc. They also gave me a brochure for Malahide Castle, a brochure for the nearby Ireland coast, and a map of the city of Howth, which also includes a castle. She also proceeded to explain in detail how to get to Malahide (even after I showed her the location on the GPS). Malahide served as a residence until the 1900s, so I knew the interior would be remodeled. The tour guide came from Spain; I found the accent for an Irish tour a bit distracting.
From Malahide, I had only a short ride to Howth Castle. Howth still serves as a private residence, so can only be viewed from the outside. Carefully checking the time, I headed to Howth, and still returned to the bike shop near the hostel by 5:45 pm. Just a good stretch of the legs.
The bike shop loosened my pedals, and indeed had a box. I returned to the hostel, box perched on my bike as I walked back. In comparing the two boxes, the second box paled in size to the first, about the same difference as the box from yesterday to the bike I originally brought to Istanbul. I settled in to pack.
Two hours later I finished packing. The smaller box forced me to remove the front racks and the front fender, and detach the front handlebars. I juggled equipment around between the box and panniers. I arranged a taxi/van for the morning. Everything all set, I wandered the streets listening to buskers and the music drifting out from the bars on my last night in Europe.