This is the Tale of Our Irish Conquest

M. James Thompson

One Fine Adventure: Dublin, Ireland

Part 1 – Please Prepare for Landing

I am unsure of the thought process that would compel a generally logical person to pickup a full weekend of bartending shifts, drinking their way through them, and then getting onto an overnight flight. Naturally they would go directly to sleep and not imbibe in excess on that transatlantic flight, or would they? Anyone who would do something that irresponsible would not sober up on the tail end of the flight and go directly from the arrivals terminal to a car rental in a country that they have never driven and embark on a cross-country road trip. Even if they were to go on such a reckless adventure this absurd fool most certainly would not bring three other wonderful souls along for the ride.

I am a bit off when it comes to planning, time management, personal responsibility and caring for the well-being of the people closest to me. In my mid the internet speaks only truth; I am confident that it would never, ever, hurt me. Long ago I departed from the realities of the world and shot myself from a canon crafted of whimsical daydreams into land of fanciful adventure planning. My real-life adventures have responded with a stern refusal to succumb to my wishes for easy travel.

My bucket list is wall of stick-it notes, articles about the adventures other travelers and a web pictures neurotically attached by twine and push-pins. I long for volcanic wastelands, endless desserts and countries that want nothing to do with Americans who smells of whiskey and self-imposed hardship At the bottom of everything I am a traveling dreamer, or a dreamer who does not travel enough. There are adventures to be had everywhere and I am willing to find them as soon as I start reading maps correctly and calling ahead for reservations.

Ireland was no different from any normal adventure of mine, but this time I had companions. Cara, Dan, Becky, Nick and Catherine should all be at home writing thank you cards to me at this very moment for achieving such glorious success as a travel planner. My faithful, and unknowingly foolish, friends put their trust in me and I gave, mostly, my best effort to oblige. Paddy and Mary Cotter made a special guest appearance at the end of the trip. Spending any period of time in Dublin would be a waste without a few stories from the original muck savage himself.
Being a damn good driver on the proper side of the road I was convinced that driving on the right-hand side of the road would be no challenge  for such a  seasoned driver. Rolling through stop signs, no problem. Cutting people off as I enter the freeway, no problem. Parallel parking and only nudging the car behind me once, no problem. These are all God given and Constitutionally protected rights, provided you are not fact checking. I enjoy the style of driving inside of my comfortable American bubble. When I pulled onto the incorrect side of the road I felt abandoned by the driving gods.
Roundabouts are Ireland’s way of saying I am sorry for making me drive in the seat on the right hand side. Simply put, these little nuggets of glory are the most expedient means of short range vehicular transport that has ever been implemented. I have heard horror stories of roundabouts with four lanes and stop lights. That seems terrifying, but local traffic becomes so simple and gas mileage does not suffer from the constant stop and go of intersections. I could go on about these doughnut shaped glory holes of driving pleasure , but I will move on. Feel free to text, tweet, or Instagram your favorite stories and pictures about roundabouts.
Being an exceptional travel planner I had devised no plans of communication between myself and my pals waiting at Friendship Central. I assumed that Michael Flatley himself would be waiting at the gate to usher me through my trip. Clearly this was not the case. Without setting up an international plan on my phone, that would have taken forethought, I powered up my iPhone and started racking up data charges. Why call or text friends when I can Facebook them and hope for a response? Carrier pigeon anyone?

I collected the keys to our lime green chariot of highway conquest, the Skoda Fabia. Whatever breed of hamsters they have spinning the wheels in that bad boy were about to get their workout. An Irishman behind the counter did as much as he could to suggest that we might be best served by using the GPS to get around. I called his bluff and, in a very convincing tone assured him we would do just fine with our printed Google map. I am assume that the stench of my fear along with his knowledge of just how fucked the roads and their signs become in the countryside persuaded him to offer a pity discount in hopes that we would not die in his country.

Of all the information that I will regurgitate onto you throughout our harrowing tail of glory this could be the white turkey of knowledge; you absolutely must get a GPS if you are going to drive across Ireland. If you are not collecting your car from the airport you should register for it online to guarantee that it is available for you. If you are collecting your European death box from the airport I would suggest you not register for it and try to talk them down on the price. If they will not budge you should give up your pride, under no circumstance should you take off your american flag bandanna, but tuck in your pride and get the GPS. I would have never made it out of the airport. I am not joking. I seriously got lost in the parking lot.


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