The following is a telling of my first day driving in the Island Nation of Ireland. I love Ireland, but not so much that particular day.
Dublin is nice, but Ireland is about the countryside.
Ireland was a dream of mine to visit for some time. After a couple of days visiting Dublin, it was time to get a car and drive this amazing country. I made my way to the airport to pick up my car. As it was processed they pointed out I was in luck, instead of the Econo box tiny car I had reserved, I was getting a free upgrade to a full sized car! This was great news to me since I am a tall big guy! With apologies they pointed out that i would have to stop and fuel up right away, but heck no problem for me, if I get the larger car!
A few miles out into the countryside I stopped into a station to fuel up. The car was a diesel, so naturally I grabbed the green nozzle (everyone knows that’s diesel!) turned it on and went to the shop for a few minutes. Upon coming back, after it was full, I noticed with dread that I had filled the car with GASOLINE. The nozzle colors were different here, plus in the states the nozzles are sized different so this cannot happen! Ugh.
So here I am in the Irish countryside, 60 Euros of fuel in my tank, and I cant turn the ignition because I will destroy the engine! After some work, the store clerk found a guy to tow me and fix the problem. So we head out to a shed in the middle of nowhere, I wound up standing there for 3 hours while he manhandled the car. The experience did show me that there are parts of Ireland that are ugly after all! And that they have white trash too! So after the hours invested and about 170 Euros (literally) down the drain I was finally underway again.
More beautiful Irish countryside!
I desperately needed to see Blarney Castle that day to keep to the schedule I was on, and now it was a race. On to the highway I went. A decent distance along the route, I pulled on to a side road to check my map. When I returned to the highway, it was only to discover I had a large truck coming at me on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD! I managed to ditch the car in the nick of time into a field of bushes and small trees.
And of course after the adrenaline rush subsided, I realized in my stupidity, it had been me on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!
The only Irish to witness to my disasters!
I managed the now very scratched up, dented and brush infested chassis back onto the highway toward my goal of Blarney Castle And ironically, all was looking good time wise, I was going to make it after all!
As I arrived into town I had my first encounter with why people in Ireland drive Econo boxes and not big sedans as I was so lucky to have gotten. Once in town the streets became incredibly narrow, and as I followed the signs, I had to enter an ancient narrow tunnel. So add narrow tunnel + big car + the fact they drive on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD and what do you get?
Not from that day, but it gives you an idea!
In my case I managed to tear the mirror off and tear up the whole passenger side of the car! Not my best travel day by a long shot! Again I pull over to see what new damages I was capable of ,adrenaline ran its course and I was back on the narrow streets to my nearby destination! It was actually in my view, the grounds of Blarney Castle, when out of the blue, I clipped the rear bumper of a parked car.
The Castle..so close yet so far!
SO for the forth time that day, I stop to see what damage I have wrought…to discover that his entire bumper is gone! It was as if I was a surgeon and this full sized Polish sedan was my scalpel! What was left, a late model rust bucket Ford Taurus. The owner comes over, and I apologize. At this point I am worried about the Police or insurance getting involved, so I ask him…HOW MUCH? How much for me to just to get to walk away. And he did not hesitate in saying 600 Euro! As frazzled as I was I did not negotiate, I went to the ATM!
But as I am handing him the cash, the thought dawns on me…he could still call the coppers and try to shake me down for an insurance claim! That’s where I came up with this ingenious plan, I took a photo of him holding the cash. I figured a picture was worth a thousand words (or 600 Euros in this case). Our photo contract seems to work out, since Interpol has as of yet not picked me up since that time!
So the hard part to believe in all of this, I was still able to make it to Blarney Castle on time! And it was amazing!
After reading this far of course you knew I kissed the Blarney stone!
Entrance fee for 5 Euro + 170 + 600 = 775 Euro for the day…to see Blarney Castle! (About 1000 USD with the exchange rate…sigh)
And the next four days driving in Ireland…no problemo…easy peasy!
As for the damage…I highly recommend getting the extra insurance, which I had gotten. Apparently, it is a license to destroy a car, which in retrospect …could actually have been a lot of fun!