Today I left the hotel early to go to Avis Car Rental to pick up my rental car. I decided to take a taxi because I didn’t want to carry my heavy backpack and tote to the LUAS (above-groud subway).
After retrieving my rental car, I set out on the road…only to almost get in a wreck as I was leaving the lot! Who in the heck thought it was a good idea to make some cars in some countries drive on the right and others on the left? And who moved the driver seat to the left and why? Driving in Ireland is very backwards and confusing for someone who grew up in the States. Here are the following things that I found difficult about driving in Ireland:
- I had to drive on the left side of the road! It was hard to remember that on turns.
- Since the driver’s seat is on the right side, my perception of the left side of the car was off. I kept going to the left side of the lane which came too close to the curb or the grass.
- Although you can guess what most of the signs mean, sometimes you can’t. I also didn’t think they had enough speed limit signs.
- Traffic is pretty slow in and around Dublin so coming from Los Angeles it was difficult to slow down.
- Ireland has a lot of round-a-bouts. Although the U.S. does have these, there is a round-a-bout like every few meters in Ireland! I got lost like 5 times on the way to pick up a friend thanks to the round-a-bouts, adding about 20 minutes to my driving time.
- The streeets are too damn narrow and windy in the mountains! I think my heart was racing the entire time we drove through the mountains.
- The signs can be contradictory. The road will have a painted sign that reads “Slow” next to a speed limit sign that says 100 km/ph (about 60 mph). How is slow 60 mph? And why should I go 60 mph on a single lane road meant for two lanes?
Driving on the highway was thankfully not as difficult but I still kept sliding to the left. Luckily I made it to Carly’s and we headed to Glendalough (Glen-duh-lock). We drove through the Wicklow Mountains. Slowly, Dublin city-life faded away and beautiful hilly land came into sight.
Glendalough was cold. It was very windy and it sprinkled lightly twice but for the most part our trip there was clear! Thankfully, Carly had recently been to Glendalough so she took me on a great path. I saw two lakes, a waterfall, St. Kevin’s cell! (still have to look up St. Kevin; my guidebook says he founded a monastery there…), and beautiful nature and trees. I loved running through a marshy spongey tree-filled area. It was so fun and felt weird beneath my feet.
We arrived at the monastery and it was goregous. The monastery area was filled with gravestones, some dating to very recently. I found one dated at 2003. The tower really looked beautiful against a cloudy blue sky and I enjoyed walking through the old buildings that still stood. As I took a photo from one of the buildings, a British soldier in full regalia walked by. We threw stones and yelled, “Long Live the Irish!” (Just kidding. I just took a picture).
As you can tell by the photos it was a relaxing hike with some beautiful sites and it was my favorite part of the day.
We left to go eat at Avoca, a cafeteria/cafe. We had vegetable soup and I had a sausage roll. Pretty tasty. Avoca also featured a shopping area with house wares which was kind of cute.
Surprisingly, Avoca has the most mature willow in the world. This tree is huge and glorious. The branches rain down to the ground and hang over your head like a canopy. As Carly said, it looks just like Willow, the tree that speaks in Pocahontas.
From there I dropped Carly at home and headed on the road. I planned to go to Kilkenney to see the castle there but I checked the time and dicovered that I would arrive after it closed. Instead I headed onto Cashel where I had booked a night at a B&B.
The B&B is very cute and sits at the bottom of the hill where the Rock of Cashel stands in all its glory, minus the beams and construction hanging off the side of it. Restoration, I assume.
As for my evening, I walked around the very small town of Cashel, took some pictures, had a pint of Bulmers, and grabbed a pizza (because nothing else in my price range was open, shame I know).
All in all, it was a grand day, minus my fear of driving and minus the messed up WIFI at the B&B which Patrick, the owner, tried to fix for hours. Some things just happen, right?
I have to admit that I wish I had booked more nights outside of Dublin. I am definitely enamored by the Irish countryside, the fresh air, and the great sights it has to offer compared to the city. Keep that in mind for your next Irish trip.