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2020: A Year in Photos

by Roberto
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If anyone is familiar with my two previous blogging years, they’ll know I usually finish the year with a photo blog to celebrate the travels of that year. Well, unfortunately 2020 was never going to be the same was it. Nonetheless, I’m not going to break the habit of a blogging lifetime, am I? Plus I haven’t stopped taking photos, even if I have stopped boarding planes. This is our 2020 in photos, and the ones that defined it for us.

Rome January: 2020 in Photos

So the year started well by me boarding a plane. Beata’s birthday was on the 7th (which means it’s time to start looking for a present again now) and a few days prior we headed off to the eternal city, for a short city break.

Ah Rome! Is there anything to say that hasn’t been said? Anything to share that hasn’t been shared. It’s a city that matches and exceeds expectations. Despite my many visits to Italy, this was my first to Rome, so we followed the well-worn path by the Colosseum, Forum, Fountains and Stairs. The Vatican Museum was as daunting for me as any first time visitor, it would need many more visits. The Hall of Maps beat the Sistine Chapel in the awe stakes. We ticked some increidble food off the list too, Tiramisu at Pompeii, pizza all over the place, carbonara, and ice cream at Geleteria Della Palma. Little did we know that this would be our one true holiday in 2020. One of these days I may write all about it.


Bratislava February: 2020 in Photos

Honestly this trip came at us a bit suddenly and we debated the merits of going. Flights to Hungary were expensive so we flew to Bratislava. It all seemed such an inconvenience. Looking back now…

Bratislava is essentially a small town trapped within a capital city. It was certainly never intended to be so. It’s all the more pleasant for it. Two days would have been enough to appreciate it, but I only had three hours. Queue some serious speed sightseeing. I checked off a lot of sights that I wanted to “see”, the Blue Church, the towns sculptures including its favourite peeping Tom, the Town Hall and Main Square and a few others. See cause that’s pretty much all I did. The resulting blog was on Why you need at least one day in Bratislava.


Hungary February: 2020 in photos

As frequent readers may be familiar with, Hungary has become a second home for me. Beata’s homeland is the east of the country, an area hardly known for its tourism. Previous visits I strive to make the most of it. Alas, this one would not follow suit. My restless soul was restricted and much time was spent with my extended family. Did I enjoy it? Of course, but it’s not going to fill the pages of a blog. One solitary highlight was a return trip to Debrecen, Hungary’s second city. I still marvel just how yellow its church is. The bright February day really complimented it.


March 2020 & The End

By March the rumblings were already beginning of Europe succumbing to the virus. We continued our intention to visit every castle in Dublin. First up was Dalkey and its many castles. This is where Matt Damon hung out for the whole 101 days of lockdown in Ireland. Said he was never happier anywhere. From my own experiences, I’m not at all surprised. The realisation of what was really to come was on a tour of Malahide Castle. We would be the tour guides last, as the castle would close for an indeterminate time just after.

Maybe Matt lived here?
With that view can you blame him for staying?
Malahide Castle

Well that’s 2020 as I remember it. Thanks for your support over the year.

Ok ok, so that wasn’t the end. Just a new beginning. Then the year and my blog (as anyone who has been following along knows) in general shifted in trend towards Ireland.


3 months of Lockdown. 2020 in Photos

On March 16th one of our work colleagues tested positive. It brought the truth about the existence of COVID-19 very much into our reality. Sent home and into two weeks isolation, I nervously anticipated a test. But Ireland hadn’t got it’s act together and the test took 5 days to materialize. The results took another 13 days to get to me. By that stage, I was more bored than nervous.

Ireland’s first lockdown lasted 101 days. For the first what seemed like two years of this, we were limited to 2 km from our homes. It became our world. Shopping, cooking and eating became our existence. I worked 48-hour shifts in work, 2 days on 2 days off, in a hotel. Staying long term in a hotel seems glamorous. Trust me, when alone it isn’t. Old buildings have a lot of random noises and there seemed to be a different one for all 180 years of this one. Seagulls dancing on a skylight one day almost has me running out the door. This was the year I finally surrendered my idea to live in a castle. My heart couldn’t take it.

2020 in photos
Lockdown drove us all a little crazy. So we created our own little Parisian moment.

A month or so in I had another scare. I stepped on a weighing scales! How on earth was I 99 kilos? One look at my belly and I knew how. From this, my raison d’etre in 2020 was born. I aimed to drop below 90kg. Walking was the only option back in April for exercise and before long became my new passion. I walked every road, every lane, every alleyway in that 2km around my house. I found a new appreciation for the Dublin areas of Terenure, Cowper, Rathmines and Rathgar. Discovering new features of these Georgian neighbourhoods became my pass time. The Irish weather for once was compassionate, and the sun shone more in those three months than in any spring in my memory. There’s always a silver lining.


Dublin – 2020 in Photos

2020 in photos
Georgian splendor
2020 in photos
The undisputed best door in Dublin
2020 in photos
Colourful Georgian Dublin
2020 in photos
Never knew this place existed. The Magogue- 2 kms from my home
2020 in photos
I took photos of bridges
2020 in photos
From bridges
2020 in photos
Under bridges
2020 in photos
Lidl- Always a good place to shop-sometimes a good place for dramatic skies
2020 in photos
Dublin’s streets were deserted
2020 in photos
It was so unusual to see Grafton St as a shadow of its former self
2020 in photos
Dublin’s Dame Street- Trafficless
2020 in photos
Street art that captured a nations hopes
2020 in photos
Luckily i was still able to find hidden street art
2020 in photos
I was still walking come autumn
2020 in photos
Dublin’s Stephens Green
2020 in photos
Dublin’s Phoenix Park in Autumn
2020 in photos
Ok this has no value other than I like that starburst
2020 in photos
Banks of the River Dodder
2020 in photos
St Stephens Green at Christmas
2020 in photos
Masks became the most disputed thing of the year. Personally I think they are great fashion accessories

The Rebirth of my Love of Hiking

Then June came. Freedom came with it. Of sorts. The country creaked back to life, and national and international travel resumed. Channeling my inner Mr T, I stayed domestic. Tired of my city and park confines, I longed for the quiet slopes of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains. My old hiking boots were dusted off and hiking replaced regular walking as my biggest passion for the rest of 2020. Those mountains within 20 minutes of Dublin became a real blessing. With it, my goal of 10000 steps daily became a goal to do 10 km daily. I’ve only once fallen short all year since.

Hiking is now as much an integral part of this blog as it is of my life. My post on the 30 best walks and hikes in Dublin, is my most read of the year. Guess I’m not the only one who has gotten tired of the couch.

Poolbeg Lighthouse
The Poolbeg Lighthouse
Poolbeg Lighthouse
One of Dublin’s most popular hikes along the longest sea wall in europe
2020 in photos
Clear proof that no gold exists at the end of a rainbow
2020 in photos
Also no Leprechauns found here

My favourite hikes were in the Wicklow Mountains, and it was these hikes that brought me closest to the elation felt from travelling. Which in 2020 was exactly what I needed. I shared some of my favourites earlier.

Lough Bray

Spinc Glendalough

Djouce mountain

Seefin Passage Tomb
Seefin passage tomb
2020 in photos
Poulaphouca Reservoir
2020 in photos
Djouce mountain
2020 in photos
Guinness lake
2020 in photos
Glensoulan Valley
2020 in photos
Ballinastoe Forest
2020 in photos
Lough Bray
2020 in photos
Upper lake Glendalough
2020 in photos
Glenealo valley
Sunset on the Sally Gap
Sunset over the Sally Gap

Hooray for Road Trips

With the country at our mercy between July and October, naturally, a few road trips were taken. My first few took me to Waterford and Longford, in hunt of street art. Always a good endeavor when social distancing is a concern.

Street art of Longford

Street art of Waterford

Sonny
The Waterford Walls features magnificent murals such as this by South African Sonny
Cruthu arts festival Longford
Longfords’ street art, sponsored by the Cruthu Arts Festival is more understated but still a great tour.

Kilkea Castle

With staycation being the most fashionable travel word of 2020, we got in on the action ourselves in July. In style. While never wanting to own a castle, I’m more than happy to stay in one. Better still it was a collaboration with the property, so we really lived it up. King for a day and all that. Our Kilkea Castle stay was truly excellent, and a real highlight of the infamous year that was 2020. Where else can you have afternoon tea from a picnic basket?

Kilkea Castle Kildare
The impressive Kilkea Castle
2020 in photos
Picnic by the castle- like stepping into a period drama

Galway- 2020 in Photos

August brought our only real trip of the year after February. August- the height of the summer, with long warm sunny days, and high temperatures. The perfect month to travel.

Except in Ireland.

Any experience I have of July travel, involves rain. 2020 was no exception. For much of our trip, the lovely Storm Ellen battered Galway. The dramatic waves by Salthill were at least entertaining. To be honest a storm isn’t going to hold you back in Ireland, they are rarely electric. But some of the views around Galway certainly were. Thankfully the storm and cloud broke on occasion for us.

Lough Inagh
Lough Inagh
Sky Road
Views from the Sky Road in Clifden
Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey
Menlo castle
Menlo castle

I would hate to bore you with more tales of my further road trips to Wexford, Kildare, Offaly, Roscommon, Louth, Longford, Meath and Mayo, so instead I’m just going to bombard you with a ton of more photos. Unless of course you haven’t read about my Leap Castle visit. Simply put, it’s the scariest castle in Ireland if not the world. It was definitely the final nail in the coffin of my ambition to ever live in one. Probably the most unique experience I had all year.

Leap Castle
Leap Castle- possibly the scariest place I’ll ever set foot in
Japanese Gardens
Japanese gardens in Kildare
Elphin Windmill
A windmill from a Roscommon road trip- cause who doesn’t like colourful windmills.
Emo Court - 2020 in photos
Emo Court in Offaly
2020 in photos
The Garden of Reflection in Newtowncashel
2020 in photos
Getting lost in a sunflower field
2020 in photos
Sunset in Louth
Carlingford
A return to the colourful town of Casrlingford
Croagh Patrick
Climbing the pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick
View from the summit
Croagh Patrick
Yours truly, happy with my climb

2020 in Photos- Wildlife

While staring on with envy at some of the wildlife shots of fellow bloggers on Twitter (you know who you are), I was inspired to go out and purchase a telephoto lens. Again. That’s the third time. Don’t know why I ever got rid of the other two. Seeking local wildlife has been a late highlight of my year, especially within the second lockdown. As the year ends and with the lockdown triquel now upon us, it’s the closest I’m getting to Safari for a while.

Kingfisher River Dodder
Kingfisher by the River Dodder
Foxes by the River dodder dublin
Sunbathing Foxes are a frequent sight by the rivers banks
2020 in photos
Herons are a frequent sight by the city’s waterways
2020 in photos
A friendly cat from my walks. Not quite wildlife I know.
Squirrels in Phoenix Park Dublin
Foraging squirrels in Phoenix Park
Deer in Phoenix Park
The parks Roe Deer are its most beautiful inhabitants

So as 2020 draws to a close, it’s clear it’s a year that has changed us all. Certainly the direction of my annual end of year photo roundup.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my readers for being so supportive throughout 2020. It’s been a difficult year for all. Here’s to a return to normality and travel in ’21. I wish you all a very happy new year.

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2020 in photos
2020 in photos

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