“Honk! Beep! Beeeeep!”
“Oh my god,” I thought. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. We had finally arrived in Dublin, Ireland for the first part of our six-week adventure. After 16 hours of travel, we were so relieved to finally be in our rental car. Tony was in the driver’s seat, which was on the right side of the car (opposite from the states) and commenting how he wasn’t sure how to operate the gear shifter with his left hand. (Most cars in Europe are manual cars. I do not know how to drive a manual, so Tony would be our driver for the next week). In addition, he had to drive on the left side of the road. We took off slowly, he drove cautiously while speaking out loud about what his next move would be and I navigated. A twenty minute drive into Dublin and then the honking began.
Of course we were being cautious, which irritated most drivers. But we also had no idea where we were going or how to handle this “opposite” driving. I told Tony that they were just beeping at us to welcome us to Ireland and let us know how nice we looked 😉
We found a parking garage that was a 10 minute walk from the apartment we would be staying in and Tony graciously parked the car. We grabbed our backpacks and headed out. It was cold and our jackets were buried somewhere in our bags, so we just hustled to get to the place we would be staying.
Thirty minutes of walking the same block up and down and we were convinced that it didn’t exist. My phone was dying, I had no wifi, and I was freezing cold, so we found a cute little, classic Irish pub with wifi, and hopped online. We messaged the folks that we were renting the apartment from and they told us the place was right across the street. So come to find out, in Ireland, street numbers do not necessarily go consecutively. And even numbers aren’t always on the same side of the street. We had literally missed the apartment by one door. We should have just walked a few feet further.
Tony went to check the place out and drop our bags off so we could get some dinner before turning in. He came back and said, “Well, you’re going to get a workout.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “A flight of stairs? No big deal, I’ll just crawl up.”
“No,” he said. “FIVE flights of stairs. The apartment is on the top floor. And there’s no elevator.”
I looked at him blankly while processing and then realized I simply had no other option. “Well, I guess I’ll be getting a workout climbing the stairs!”
I confirmed they were carpet covered, versus cement or wood, and we soon found ourselves walking the streets of Dublin, seeking out another pub for dinner. And when we did, we got to try our first Guinness. It was smooth. Not as thick or hoppy as it is in the states. Just smooth and delicious.
After dinner, around 7:30 pm, we found ourselves ready for bed. We were exhausted from traveling and figured a good 12 hours of sleep would be perfect for resetting our systems. But around midnight, just four hours after going to bed, we found ourselves wide awake. With nothing to do. We tossed. And turned. And finally, an hour later, each took a sleeping pill. We slept until 10:30 am the next day. And it was perfect!
We showered and found ourselves in our car, heading towards Belfast, the very northern tip of Northern Ireland. After about 45 minutes, I could tell that Tony was starting to get a feel for the car and I was finally starting to feel much more at ease with the whole situation.
Belfast was about a two and a half hour drive, with green, very green, landscaping surrounding us. Once we made it to Belfast, we visited the Titanic museum. The Titanic was built in Belfast in 1912, so there’s a good reason this museum existed.
After the museum, we drove to a part of Belfast that was full of shopping. The city was preparing for Christmas and you could just feel the spirit in the air. We walked around, just absorbing the culture and ambience, for about thirty minutes when we finally found a little pizza place to eat.
The drive back to Dublin that evening was long. It was dark now. And raining. And I was exhausted. I could hardly keep my eyes open as Tony plugged away at the miles. We had one more thing to do in Dublin that night before we crashed.
Temple Bar. Now Temple Bar is not just one bar. It’s dozens. All lined up next to each other with the same name – Temple Bar. It is the cutest part of Dublin I’ve seen so far. Very classic Irish pubs, all lining cobblestone streets. So as we finished our Guinness beers that night and planned out the next day’s events, I knew that this was going to be a great trip. Five flights of stairs and all.
Please feel free to read Tony’s perspective of our trip at http://www.whereistony.com.