Welcome to Ireland
After 10+ hours of travel, we made it to Ireland. Of course, we lost six hours traveling east as we jetted over time zones and the Atlantic. Our flights that began Tuesday afternoon in Tulsa ended Wednesday morning in Dublin.
Although we were grappling with jet lag, we successfully secured our bags, passed through customs and signed for the keys to our rental car (a tiny black Volkswagen Polo). Like in the UK, you drive on the left here in Ireland and our VW indeed had the steering wheel and cabin flipped.
If you think our registration and licensing system is too involved back in the States, take a look at the myriad of red tape displayed inside the front window of a typical Irish car:
Driving on the left dictates relying on your left hand to master the stickshift and for someone who is so dominantly right-handed, this was challenging. At the same time as you’re acclimating to the reality of mirror-image driving, the narrow and twisty Irish roads elicit plenty of cringing. Amazingly, Mom and Miss Debbie kept their screams to a minimum.
For one more laugh, the Irish have a tendency to view the road as a shared experience. Sometimes oncoming traffic slides over in your lane to pass a tractor, sometimes there’s a bicyclist with a death wish struggling along the virtually non-existent shoulder. Our favorite challenge so far was the local farmer who used the road as his personal cattle drive.
In spite of all the hurdles, we safely completed the 130 kilometer, 1.5 hour drive south from the Dublin airport to the tiny town of Ferns in County Wexford. Before we left home, we had booked a small cottage via Airbnb on Corrigrue Hill just outside of town for our first two nights.
Directions to the cottage from Peter (the owner) included turning left off the main road after passing the local pub in Camolin. Then, a series of tiny, twisty lanes took us deep into the Irish countryside. After a few wrong turns, we finally found the entrance to the steep driveway and made our way to the top of the hill. We were rewarded with an incredible view:
Although jet lag was kicking in, we decided to go into town for a few groceries. One of the most interesting experiences in a foreign country is a trip to the market. There are countless small (and amusing) differences.
In my opinion, one of the most important benefits of traveling overseas is the opportunity to view America from afar. Sadly, too many dismal second-rate sitcoms imported from our TV paint a skewed picture of the USA. There were some positive signs from the local Tesco though:
Here are a few more things you won’t see at the grocery store back in Oklahoma. An aisle devoted to Guinness, peat moss bricks stacked for heating and coin-release buggies to ensure you return them to the stall (so smart).
We gathered up a few things to get us started, paid our bill in Euros (currently $1 buys about .9 Euro) and hopped back in our Volkswagen. After we made it back to the cottage, we enjoyed a spectacular sunset for our first evening in Ireland:
I’ll be catching up on the blog posts (now that we have reliable Wifi) so follow along as we experience Ireland. If you have any questions or suggestions, comment on this blog or tweet @JasonRMatheson.