Our last night in Dublin was much quieter than the night previous. I still awoke tired as I’d been blogging into the wee hours of the morning. The things I do so you all can follow these adventures… Anyway, Justin awoke much more refreshed, and a good thing because he was taking on the role of Driver for the next week.
Having read poor reviews about our rental car location, we decided to get there a little early. We hopped into our Uber and enjoyed a nice conversation with the guy as he expediently got us to Avis. Based on our experience, the fifty minute waits we read about were unfounded and we were in our cute little Nissan Micra within a matter of 15 minutes. Justin opted to get the additional insurance coverage, eliminating any monetary responsibility to the rental company unless the car is stolen. I seriously couldn’t imagine anyone would want to steal this car.
Justin spent some time familiarizing himself with the car, and we went over the basics of left-hand-side-of-the-road driving. I remembered from previous experiences that it’s pretty straightforward until you get to the roundabouts. There’s just something very wrong about traveling a roundabout clockwise. At any rate, we pulled to the exit of the rental car lot, and Justin jetted into the left lane… right in front of another vehicle. Our very first maneuver onto the street and he was already getting honked at! Uh-oh, I thought. We might not be off to a very good start! (Secretly praying). As we got out of Dublin and onto the “carriageway” he seemed to relax a little. Despite the widening of the road and the decrease in traffic, he was still hugging the left shoulder. By hugging, I mean consistently over the rumble strip and hitting every single reflector. After about an hour of this, I started to lose my patience. I kept reminding myself that I don’t want to drive, and I’m sure it’s close on his side, too. His name is on the rental. His credit card paid for the rental. Suck it up and tolerate it. However, with each bump, bump, bump, bump, I couldn’t help but feel we could somehow drive between both lines, and not hit any rumble strips or any reflectors, all the while avoiding any collisions with cars. He did not share my opinion. Of all the potential disagreements on this trip, this is one I did not see coming.
After making my annoyance known, I let it be… for a while. Then we almost busted side mirrors with a parked car literally making me jump out of my seat. Then my mirror was in the hedges. The last straw was when he hit the curb on a roundabout, completely obliterating the hubcap. The one time I agree to extra coverage, and it turns out we needed it. Thankfully, the tire remained intact! I couldn’t hold it in any longer! I once again commented on the space being adequate for cars to drive in harmony with one another… as they do Every. Single. Day.
We rode the shoulder into the charming little town of Adare. I’d read in my research this village was one of the most beautiful in Ireland. We found a spot to park our micro little Micra, and began to stroll the sidewalks in search of something to eat. I browsed the storefronts of the buildings – shoes, clothing and gift shops all mixed in with cafés and pubs. We found a nice little white front building with red trim called The Arches Restaurant. We walked inside and the smell immediately reminded me of my grandmother’s home. We were promptly seated and the staff proceeded to eagerly tend to our needs with great friendliness and professionalism. As I’d been tired, I asked for a coffee. Instead the server brought 2, thinking perhaps Justin might like some as well – no additional charge, of course. We were very pleased. Unlike many restaurants, this one did not have wifi. Initially I was disappointed, but as Louie Armstrong sang in the background, I appreciated the opportunity to soak it in. After a great light lunch, we settled our bill and as if on cue, it began to rain.
We’ve encountered sprinkles on this trip, but this was the first good rain requiring us to put our hoods up and walk a little more briskly to the car – not without stopping for some photos of the picturesque town, of course. As I was sans umbrella, I was left wishing I could’ve explored Adare off of Main Street.
We jumped in the car and filled up with petrol. Despite the coffee, I was becoming increasingly sleepy and I thought a brief nap might reduce my road trip anxiety. I allowed myself to drift off slightly and before I knew it, we were in the quaint little town of Annascaul.
Like a pro, Justin has very detailed maps with specific points to visit. He has put a great deal of work into making my job as “navigator” as easy as possible. (Although, I’m pretty good at it anyway, if I do say so myself). At any rate, on his predetermined route was the historic South Pole Inn of Annascaul. This town landmark is the former home of Tom Crean, an explorer of Antarctica during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. The man led a fascinating life, and is well known for trekking 35 solo miles across the Ross Ice Shelf to save a fellow explorer. I enjoyed a coffee and rhubarb crumble while Justin perused the memorabilia decorating the walls. On our way out, we stopped to enjoy the little stream that ran alongside the Inn.
Back on the road again, we soon exited off onto a very narrow road – this one truly only big enough for one car to pass through in some spaces. We were on our way to a castle. I didn’t know anything about it – something he wanted to “stop and see.” When we pulled into the Storm Beach area where Min Aird Castle stood, I forgot all about my passenger woes and became awestruck by the beautiful ruins standing atop a bright green hill, colorful wildflowers all around as a stream flowed peacefully beneath and into the surrounding ocean. Meanwhile, gentle raindrops tapped my face.
We tried to get up to the castle, but all the muddy pathways led to dense brush obstructions. Justin found a small road that led up behind the castle. As we circled around, we found the back entrance, and a nearby home and boat dock. Justin wanted to go into the castle but it was clearly marked as private property. Many of you know I am (rarely) a rule breaker, so I let Justin go it alone. By the time he got back to me, I was being eaten alive by vicious Irish gnats and Justin’s shoes and socks were completely soaked from the rain covered grass. Having seen enough ancient beauty, we went back to the car. As we approached, I was reminded I would have to ride with him again….
I could tell Justin was nervous about driving now. As if driving on the left wasn’t bad enough, he had the fear of a head-on collision, and his girlfriend nagging about his ability to drive. I managed to bite my tongue the rest of the day… mostly.
Our destination for the evening was the Dingle Peninsula. We’d already made our way onto the peninsula, but were heading to the actual town of Dingle to check into our Airbnb. The town was quite easy to navigate, and after checking in we were able to explore the area a little more. Dingle sits right on the Dingle Bay, and we took a little drive to the other side of the bay to view Dingle from a different perspective. It was still cloudy and rainy, but an enjoyable jaunt nonetheless.
When we got back into Dingle, we parked the car and went for a walk through the town. We window shopped and explored Dingle Harbor before settling down in the Dingle Pub. Unfortunately, our
service was drastically different than our lunch experience, but the traditional Irish musicians performing mostly made up for it.
Finally, we paid our bill and returned 2 blocks to our B&B. Our room, like in Dublin, was also without air conditioning or a fan. However, the outside air was brisk and we were able to open our window wide open. At one point it actually became too cold in the room and we had to close the window. With the B&B just on the outskirts of town, it created a perfect, cool and quiet opportunity for restful sleep.