I’ve rolled down the car window. The Irish countryside welcomes me with open arms. The cool summer breeze is in my hair. Ed Sheeren’s Shape of You is blaring out of the speakers. I’m wearing a mini skirt and boots. I’m nodding off while the driver and the GPS do their thing… I’m reliving some long overdue born-to-be-wild-80s moment. All is well…
WELCOME TO REALITY
Driving in Ireland wasn’t easy. I should have known. It all began whilst trying to rent a car. There are many international rental car companies in Ireland; but due to a variety of reasons, we settled on Dan Dooley. And I’m glad we did. The service was slightly laid back, but friendly and hospitable. If I’m not mistaken, it’s a family business.
If you’d like to rent an automatic car (which I did), the price difference with Dan Dooley is not that big in comparison with some of the other companies. We made the booking around ten days in advance, and thank God we did. Summer season in Ireland was busier than I expected.
By the way, there are signs EVERYWHERE in Ireland reminding tourists to drive on the left. There was even a reminder on our front window.
Hmm… about that…
Driving in Dublin
This is a big no-no. Roadworks are everywhere. Parking is expensive or non-existent. Traffic isn’t great. And all the drivers seem really grumpy – a far cry from the friendly people that seem to magically emerge when they’re not sitting behind the steering wheel.
Most people don’t recommend driving in the capital city and I don’t either. We stayed in a city apartment during our time in Dublin and only got the car when it was time to venture out into the wilderness.
It’ll cost you, alright. At the end of the trip, when I sat down to tally our expenses – I noticed that we’d dropped a quarter of our total expenses on the car. And that’s excluding petrol.
Is it worth it? Yes. The alternative is a tour bus – which is fine if you’re travelling solo, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve got company. The last thing I want on holiday is to stick to a strict schedule and deal with people I really don’t want to deal with.
NO THANK YOU.
Man… I really didn’t expect this to be as hard as it was. And since I was the one taking care of it most of the time – let’s just say that if not for practical considerations – I’d have thrown both the portable wifi and the GPS out of the window.
We had a portable wifi device from My Webspot. Despite all the good reviews on the internet, let me just say – the damn thing takes forever to start up, and although it has decent coverage in city areas, it is almost absolutely useless in countryside. We sometimes had HOURS with no coverage. I’d like to blame the wifi – but it was also difficult to get service on our phones as well so… yea. Bring a map and compass. If that fails, wait till it’s nighttime and try navigating with the stars.
Oh – you think I’m kidding?
My partner in crime had brought a GPS sat nav thingy. I’m glad we had it, but using it was an exercise in frustration. Firstly, the device seemed to hate Irish postal codes. It also had a very very hard time finding addresses. It would take me five to ten tries to find just about anyplace – which was fine when I was in a good mood, but not the best when I was tired, moody and grumpy from a long day. Also – having a driver that was aimlessly driving about while the GPS took its time on the highway to hell isn’t exactly ideal. When all else failed, we even tried using the longitude and latitude coordinates. The GPS didn’t like those either.
I was also suffering from terrible allergies. I wish I’d brought antihistamines because I had severely dry eyes, rashes, an itchy throat and a running nose the moment we ventured out into the countryside. There must have been something in the air that I’m just not used to. Heather, perhaps? Who knows.
As a city girl, I have very little experience with driving in the countryside. So I was driving pretty slowly compared to others. And there were few things that annoyed me more than other motorists sticking to the bum of my car when there’s ample and I do mean AMPLE space to takeover. Whilst most Irish are friendly, respectful and courteous drivers – they were some that weren’t….
ALSO – I’m not a fan of winding mountainous roads. They made me queasy and nervous. I was also perturbed by the miles and miles of wilderness with nothing but cows and sheep for company.
Oh and some of the roads are tiny, full of potholes, and err.. well, you’ll be careful, won’t you?
WHO THE HELL CAME UP WITH ROUNDABOUTS?!?! AND WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OF THEM?!?! AND WHY ARE THEY SO BIG?!?! ARE YOU SURE IT’S A ROUNDABOUT AND NOT A MERRY-GO-ROUND?!?!
But when all is said and done – I’m glad we hired the car. We saw things we never would have seen if we were in the rehearsed comfort of a tour bus. And we experienced so much together that I’ll always hold dear to my heart. Despite the frustrations, misadventures and detours, I wouldn’t change a thing.
We saw Barna Woods. It was right next to a major road, but I felt like I was transported into the pictures of my Wildwood Tarot Deck. I don’t think I’ve seen a place so wet, so cool and so green. It was relatively quiet save for some noisy children and dogs. We only spent an hour there, but it was nice just taking a wander.
After a failed attempt at Brú na Bóinne, we wound up at the nearly secluded Hill of Tara. Like Bru Na Boinne, the Hill of Tara has some ancient monuments although they’re not as extensive (or popular?) as those at Bru Na Boinne. But there was enough there to fire my imagination and get me curious about Celtic history.
The misadventures of driving in Ireland will go down in my history as one of the greatest adventures I’ve ever had.
Till next time – remember to get car insurance.