Ireland Day #1

We arrived in Dublin mid-day on a Saturday. Let me tell you, driving in Ireland is a nightmare. Driving in Dublin is a special kind of horrifying experience…especially on a weekend. We rented a small car. If you didn’t realize it, Ireland drives on the left side of the road from the right side of the car. This means everything is backwards. Luckily, we lived in Okinawa, Japan for two years and were relatively well-versed with driving on the opposite side of the car, on the opposite side of the road. They actually put a sticker on the dash of the rental cars that remind the driver to drive on the left side of the road. It actually was kind of handy. Add to the charm of these driving conditions, the car was also a stick shift…shifting with your left hand. The car rental place generously (or so we thought) gave us a Garmin for free to use whilst in Ireland. It didn’t speak…didn’t give us the most direct route or easiest one, for that matter. It was like stepping back in time 15 years. We were trying not to use our phones as the roaming data fee would have been crazy. It was a lot. Rich was exhausted every night just from concentrating on the driving. We took 9 days to travel around the perimeter of the enter island, hitting most of the highlights of the Republic of Ireland and of Northern Ireland, which is a separate country. We didn’t go to some of the more popular places like the Blarney Castle and Blarney stone. We instead went to the countryside and the coastal areas and enjoyed the views without the crowds. We spent very little time in Belfast and Dublin, which we preferred. Most of the places we stayed were bed and breakfast homes where we were able to get to know some of the local folks. Evidently in many of the cities, the hotels were filled with refugees that Ireland had taken in from the Ukraine. Either way, this gave us the chance to see how people in Ireland live and we had a great time getting to know our hosts and the other guests.

In the airport in Iceland, you did everything yourself. You checked yourself in, printed your own bag tags, took the bags to the belt and scanned them yourself and loaded them on the belt. There were really very few workers – they were only there to float around and answer questions and guide people. It actually ran really well. Not quite the same in Dublin. We landed in Dublin and got to sit on the plane on the tarmac for nearly an hour as we waited for someone to come and bring airstairs so we could get off the plane. We then waited quite a while for our luggage to be unloaded. I was missing my luggage….and much later they announced they found a group of other suitcases which belonged here in Dublin. Thankfully mine were included in that group. They just kept saying that they were very understaffed. On day one, we stopped to have lunch in a small pub (imagine that) and had our lunch while watching premier soccer with some really avid fans. We then parked the car in a car park and headed to the Gaiety Theatre in the city centre of Dublin to watch the 25th anniversary of River Dance. Rich had never seen it before. The most enjoyable part of the show for me was watching a little girl, maybe 6 years old, watching from the front row. She was so moved by everything she was seeing, she had to stand for the majority of the show, her eyes just alight with the magic of it all. Times have changed since I watched this show 25 years ago in Fargo, ND. There is more music and singing…and the lead performer is a female. Watching the cast and crew smiling at this little girl beaming up at them through 2 hours of singing and dancing was magical. We spent an hour walking around Dublin and finding their city park to stretch our legs in before heading to the car and going to Glendoloch, a medieval castle and church with upper and lower lakes. We spent quite a bit of time hiking around the area as the sun began to set. We then headed to Kilkenny, where we stayed the night.

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