There are all sorts of road trips. My standard road trip is usually just me cruising down the highway, alone, with my favorite music cranked loud; preferably with windows rolled down and breathing in the smell of alfalfa fields or sweet grass or even the unmistakable odor of cow manure. It almost always relaxes me.
My ultimate fantasy road trip, on the other hand, required a large plane and comes with a lot of zany exploits courtesy of Ireland. And so it begins…
We flew out at 8 PM and arrived in Dublin at 9 AM (3 AM our time). My niece, Rabid Tigress, was our ballsy first driver. The ‘backwards’ driving that the U.K. has embraced is scary, thrilling & treacherous all rolled up into one. Our job as the passengers was to keep saying, “Stay to the left!” Once we were safely in our hotel, we lied down just to rest and promptly fell asleep for four hours.
Dublin has so many tourists that we heard more foreign accents than Irish. We got lost for 2 hours looking for the Temple Bar area and finally said to hell with it and headed to the next Irish bar we found that served traditional food and had music. The two young guys performing there played more American songs than anything else but it seems that’s relatively common here (even the car radio plays American songs). The guys obliged by playing a few traditional songs but they definitely prefer American songs.
We decided that instead of touring Dublin the next day we were going to head out of the city and find Ireland; the real Ireland. During check-out we were confronted by a giant spud named Tayto in the lobby. We found out later that (s)he is one hot potato over here. We wished then that we had gotten our picture taken with him (her?). There was a big football match going on at the stadium across the street and Tayto was a big supporter.
Driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the street, going the wrong way in the roundabouts is an incredibly mind-bending, hair-raising, life-threatening experience that involves numerous conversations with God…along with the out-breath of all the air in your body. Once we made it out of the city alive we headed out onto the open road only to discover that the scene from the highway looked much like the Midwest landscape. It was a bit disheartening that we still didn’t feel like we were really in Ireland. We decided to get off the main road and travel the back roads.
10:30 AM on the narrow back roads we saw a herd of sheep in fields marked off with stone fences and a thatched roof cottage and we all yelled, “We’re in Ireland!” Finally! We started seeing the rural scenes that the world is shown in postcards and picture books. We also got a taste of the craziness of locals driving fast on incredibly narrow roads where two cars passing each other come inches from each other because the vine covered stone wall on your left side is just waiting to take your side mirrors off given the chance and there’s never-ending death staring you in the face, that’s always a fun time!
Not only do you have to have keen peripheral vision to keep you 2” from the stone wall/cliff on your left and 2” from the car passing on your right but you also have to watch out for the walker/biker around every twist and turn. The wee duckling that crossed in front of me didn’t have a chance in hell.
Thank god for ‘Gertie’ our GPS voice because we would never make it to where we need to be on any given day without her. I will miss her when we give up the car although sometimes we think she’s had a nip of Guinness…that, or she’s just a crafty, twisted, filthy whore. She told me to turn on a one way street and of course I did before I realized what it was. There was no death involved but I fell out of love with her in that moment. It’s no longer unconditional love.
Disclaimer: Don’t come to Ireland if you absolutely have to have Internet! We had WiFi the first day in our hotel room and haven’t been able to connect anywhere until now…five days later.