Thursday, May 30, 2013

Road trippin' Ireland

In Ireland, they don't drive on the wrong side, they drive on the other side. So add driving on the left side of the road, plus driving from the right side of the car in a country without stoplights but roundabouts, this equals ADVENTURE. Then to further complicate the driving experience in Ireland, add a stick shift. Yes, now you're on the right side of the car shifting and signaling with your left hand driving in the left lane. And you're right handed!! No worries, just put it in gear and go.

That's right, just go. Get a good map(not the one the rental agency gives you), trace your route, get the full CDW insurance, buckle- up, and hold on. It worked for us. Hali behind the wheel, Woody navigating, map on lap. Forget the gps, way too complicated(I can hardly spell that), and we were off.

The rental cost doubles with two drivers and triples for automatic transmission. So for just under $400, full coverage, and three weeks in Ireland, we were road trippin', the Irish way.

Getting out of Dublin was a snap. Making it for the 1pm Smithwick's brewery tour in Kilkenny wasn't so easy, but we made it, barely. I had to push the car into the parking stall because Hali hadn't quite figured out what the R on the stick shift meant. It came to her once we were in the hospitality room on the beer tour, sampling a pint of red.

Okay, so we want to see the Rock of Cashel. It's not actually a rock, but a ruined castle. After scouting the roads out of town, I put down the map. This castle was only 30 miles away, atop a hill, how could we miss it? Besides the brown signs that say, Kilkenny-Cashel Tourist Route, are easy to follow. We'll be there in no time.

Half way there we come to a fork in the road. One sign pointing to the left reads, Kilkenny-Cashel; the other brown sign says Cashel-Kilkenny, pointing right. So we go left, since we are coming from Kilkenny going to Cashel. We're on track. On the Tourist Route.

Whoa, stop! Look at that ancient cemetery. Let's get a picture. So we pull over and snap a photo of those cool Celtic crosses marking the resting spot of ancient Celts. We pull back on the road only to get stuck behind a slow tractor. A mile or two later we come to another junction. Both brown Tourist Route signs are pointing to the left. How can that be? Oh well, let's push on. We turn left.

Soon we are following a tractor. That same tractor! Hey, I think we just drove in a 5 mile circle. No time to panic, we're not lost. We get back to the same junction and see the same signs pointing in the same direction. Something is wrong. Map time. Dang, we're lost.

Up the road was a little market, so we stopped. I went in to ask for directions to Cashel. I told them we had been following the brown Tourist Route signs. The three women in the market busted out in laughter. " Don't follow those signs, the children move them", they said in unison. Dang kids! Well we weren't going to let a few misfits ruin our day at the ruins. We pressed on.

Following me out of the store was a local truck driver. He said, " Follow me. When I turn on my left signal, go left. Then it's a right and another left. That'll get ye to the motorway." We followed his directions and were in Cashel in 30 minutes. That's an hour and a half for a 30 mile journey. The castle was still in ruins and will be forever. They aren't rebuilding it. Maybe they ought to tighten the bolts on those tourist route signposts. Dang kids!

That was probably our most interesting " getting lost" story to tell. It did become easier to navigate our way as we went. Fact is, if we didn't get lost that day, there would be no story to tell.

Moral of the story: Next time you get lost, embrace it. You'll find your way...with a little help from your friends.

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