After planning a mother-daughter trip to western Ireland, we agreed that we would drive from one city to the next. Or rather: I would drive. My mother, nervous enough driving in America, wasn't one to brave the roads of the Emerald Isle. But I was up for it...or so I thought.
It wasn't that I had to drive on the left side of the road. Or that I was maneuvering from the right side of the vehicle. It was terrifying how narrow the roads were, and how, in an effort to pull over to make room for an oncoming car, you'd practically scrape the paint of your rental with the 2,000-year-old rock wall to your left.
When a giant tour bus is hurtling across a bridge meant for a bicycle? Stay clear!
And the GPS! Called "sat nav" by the Irish, it was of little help to us for the majority of the trip. Rather than let me know I took the wrong road, "she" (the British voice imposing her will on us) would simply and quietly recalculate my journey. So that a journey from Cork to Dingle, which should have taken no more than three hours, took six. Six!
Ready to abandon technology, I started asking directions from locals. Big mistake. There are no addresses on streets; you simply have to know the street and find the exact locale yourself.
"Go down a bit on this road, then turn left by the bank. Once yer at the bank, go on to Paddy's bar – well, it used to be Paddy's. Now it's Smith's, I think. At any rate, turn right by the pub. Then you'll almost be there!"
First of all, telling anyone to "turn by the pub" is dangerous, because there are so many! And second, Irish folk seem reluctant to give you a full set of directions. Instead, they get you halfway there, requiring you to ask another stranger for help.
It may have taken a few hours longer than it should, but it was worth it. When I could peel my eyes off the road, I saw such scenery, it took my breath away. The many shades of green, the sheep rollicking in the fields, the ancient remains of castles...it truly is a magical place.
Just don't drive!