For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with cities. Growing up on Long Island, Manhattan was always just far enough away for me to have to reach for it, and all I wanted was a taste of the contaminated pretzel stands, the inhaling of the subway fumes, and the death-threatening pedestrian crosswalk. I took my city shoes to another level when I decided to come abroad to London, and in my travels I have been to many major European cities, loving each for different reasons. But on my recent trip to Ireland, I had a new experience. Here, it wasn’t the city maps that were calling to me, but the greenery.
I was staying in Dublin for the weekend with some friends, and we took a Sunday morning bus ride 40 minutes outside of the city to the Wicklow Mountains. That morning, we enjoyed a balanced breakfast and crowded around the kitchen table packing PB&J sandwiches, apples, waters, and granola bars: classic hiking preparation. Once we got off the bus, we meandered through a beautiful park until we found the hiking route signs at the foot of the hill, which presented a dirt path bordered by the most amazing green fields I had ever seen. And off we went, on an uphill climb, weaving to and fro, eager for the trees to part so we could catch a preview glimpse of the underlying city. Windy as it was, fashion was not a priority and my wind blown afro started to form, but I was too distracted by the plush scenery to care. Milesand miles went by, only stopping once for lunch at about noon, and there was a new excitement as the path changed, sometimes rocks, or dirt, or stair-like rubble that we had to meticulously navigate. Then at the top, Ireland seemed to be looking directly at us in all its beautiful green glory.
As much as I love the city, being in the Wicklow Mountains gave me a moment to get out of the subway mindset and meditate on the fact that I wasn’t home anymore. Even taking the hike with a bunch of friends, there was such an individual experience to be taken from walking through such a beautiful place. It had so much to offer, and not because people were flocking there to take pictures (although we did take our fair share). The city of Dublin was wonderful, but the true experience of Ireland is in the lush green fields.
I will go back to New York, and to Boston, and I know I will continue to be enamored by these cities that I have grown to love. But I also now know how moving a rural environment can be, and how much being in a new setting can sometimes be exactly what you need to reset yourself.