The Emerald Isle: Day 3

So after my crazy adventure yesterday, I was so exhausted I went straight to sleep instead of updating the blog. Thus I’m writing to you in the morning while having my delicious Irish breakfast (which honestly… like an American one….but in Ireland)

Yesterday’s endeavor was quite ambitious. I rented a car. I drove about 9 hours. And I did it all alone. Word. This is a very VERY simplified map of my travels yesterday:

Ireland Roadtrip 2011
Google Maps say 7 hours…LIES! It was more like 9

*sigh* It looks so simple on this map….trust me, it wasn’t. Also, I think my GPS had a personal issue with me and wanted me to be sure of the object’s dislike of me.

So I started at the airport, where I picked up my car. It was a cute little thing by Renault, called a Clio:

By the way, these pictures are what I took after 2.5 hours on the road (when I arrived in Blarney). Oh and that parallel parking job? That was me. On the first try 😉 and there was a car behind me so it was truly parallel parking.

Anyhoo, once I stepped into that car, I knew there was no going back. Once I killed the car on a roundabout about twenty minutes into the voyage, I knew this was going to be an interesting day.

All in all, it wasn’t bad. The driving, I mean. I was able to get used to the shifting with my left hand pretty easily and (thank goodness) the clutch, accelerator and brake were the same as in the states. I will admit that my left arm and shoulder were very sore by the end of the day. Part of it was due to being tense and the other because I was utilizing muscles I wasn’t used to when I was shifting gears. Even driving on the left side of the road wasn’t bad. I was mostly on high ways and by the end of the night, there were times that I felt like I was on 37 driving up from Bloomington.

Except that I wasn’t.

I got to Blarney without any problems and headed straight to Blarney Castle:

This thing was mighty impressive up close:

There really wasn’t much to see inside except old ruins of rooms (that were all the size of my bathroom in bloomington). However, the main thing I came to see (and to kiss) was the Blarney Stone.

For those of you not familiar with the legend. If you kiss the stone, you will be given the eloquence of speech. In laymen’s terms, you’ll talk gooder.

Now I’m going to pause here because from all the way over here, I can hear the collective giggle of my siblings (yes, my brother giggles, too) as they read that I want to kiss a stone to improve my ability to talk. Like I need it, right? Hehe.

Anyway, the stone was all the way at the top, so I had to go through some passageways, up very steep winding steps to the stop most part of the castle. I took some very nice pictures of the Irish countriside:

Then I hunkered down, laid back, puckered my lips and gave that stone a big smooch:

As you may be able to tell: there’s nothing beneath me except a nice free fall and the swarthy hands of the Irish gent to keep me from falling back. I did also get the “official” picture they take of you (cause I looked pretty good in that picture and I’m incurably vain). Also I have a bit of a fear of heights….or at least I start to get vertigo. So the climbing of the steps and the kissing of the stone = interesting experience. Was it worth it? Yes.

Then I took the time to wander the grounds of Blarney Castle. Mainly, I wandered the Rock Close. This is the site of Druid ruins. It was beautiful with some very fascinating natural formations:

I didn’t actually partake in the wishing steps. I wish I did now after what happened later on my trip (more on that later). But in case you can’t tell, inside that rock formation are steps. If you walk up and down (without tripping) with your eyes closed and ONLY thinking about one wish then it will come true within the year.

Right next to it was the Witches Kitchen. This is an inside shot (the one below is viewing from the Wishing Steps:

At the bottom of the Wishing Steps is Dolmen. It’s a fascinating rock formation where a bigger rock is resting on the corner of a smaller one. Take a look:

No one’s really sure how this happened. But it’s cool, no?  The rest of the pictures are ones I took while wandering the grounds:

Once I was done, I bought some snacks for the road, a Celtic Woman CD (because all I had was the radio and the reception wasn’t very good), hopped back into the car and made my way towards the Cliffs of Moher.

For the first 2 hours of my 2.5 hour drive, everything was peachy. I saw more winding roads which meant I got to see Irish countryside. I could not get pictures because I was driving. But those images are burned into my retina so I can tell you about it in person if you ask.

On the last .5 hour of my trip, my GPS took me through a little detour through the smallest road in Christendom. It could only really fit one car, but there were two cars all the time. The natural thing to do is to swerve to the side when you see another car to allow more room. What I didn’t know that that on the side of the road were hidden rocks 😦 I kept driving, being careful when suddenly WHAM! my tire blew. I pulled into a driveway to survey the damage. There was a hole about the size of my thumb. Ugh. Good thing I paid for full coverage right? Wrong. (More on that later) The only thought going through my mind was that I was not going to see the cliffs now. So I looked around and saw that the drive way I was in was for a house with 3 cars. I figured someone must be home, maybe they’ll let me use their phone to call Hertz. I take the car up and a young couple come out. They asked me what happened and I told them. Their names were Garrett and Honor (very pleasant people with a 7 month old by the name of Killian). After I told them of my incident, Garrett opens my trunk, finds my spare and immediately starts changing my tires. I was surprised and extremely grateful. According to Honor, a lot of people get flat tires on this road. A lot. So I didn’t feel quite so much like an idiot. They were very kind and in turn I was very gracious. I wish I got their address so that I could send them something as a thank you. Luck was on my side.

So within about thirty minutes, I was back on that road (which ended about 200 meters from the house, thank goodness) and onward towards the Cliffs. I went really slow because I was still a bit shaken. I probably should have stopped for a while but I was on adrenaline the whole day. In fact, I hardly ate the entire day. I just wanted to get to my destination. I finally got to the Cliffs. It was rainy, cold and smelled of cow feces but when I saw the Cliffs of Moher, I was swept by a feeling of euphoria:

*sigh* Was it worth it? Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. I wish I could make this photo bigger, it doesn’t quite capture the awesome magnitude of the cliffs. But I made it. I wished it was sunnier…but you know what? I almost didn’t make it at all so I should be grateful. I didn’t stay very long because I still had to make the trek back to Dublin and I did not want to drive in the dark.

It was a 3.5 hour drive back to Dublin. I was about 40 minutes away when it finally got dark so I was pretty good on that 🙂 But man, I was so tired and I just did not care anymore. I got back to Hertz and told them about my tire. Apparently my full coverage was not quite so full. I may have to pay for a new tire depending on the damage. Which is bullshit, by the way. What was the point of full coverage if it doesn’t cover everything? I was too tired to fight but I am heading to the airport today to head for Scotland in the next leg of my trip. While I’m there, I will go back to Hertz to berate them for such shitty service….that is if they charge me for the tire. There is a chance that maybe they won’t (they say it depends on if it’s just a puncture or not), but I doubt it because that hole was huge. Ugh. It almost ruined the whole trip of the day. But I’m not letting that get me down. If I have to pay for it, fine. But if I do, I will be reporting this to the Better Business Bureau back in the states (especially because Hertz is an American company) and I will be telling everyone I know (even the ones I know around the world) to not use Hertz. I’ll update you all on that later.

That was a looooooooooong day. It was worth it in every way. Would I do it again? Yeah, but not anytime soon. I know some of you must be thinking that I should have just gone and paid for the tour…but you know what? I would have had to take two separate day tours to see both places, I didn’t have the time. I would not have changed it. This day alone was a great experience for personal growth. When you have about 9 hours with nothing but you, yourself, a Celtic Woman CD and the road you have a lot of time for personal discovery. So despite the possible financial burden, it was still worth it. I’m going to leave you now so that I can wander Dublin a tad bit more before I head to the airport. Next time I write, I will be in Scotland.

On a side note: once I reach Scotland, I will be among friends. I know a lot of you worry about me being by myself but after tonight, that won’t be the case.

See you in the Land of the Scots!



Location:Ripley Court Hotel, Dublin, Ireland

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