Driving around the Ring of Kerry

I am so enjoying driving on the left side of the road with my left hand on the stick shift traveling through the Irish countryside. This afternoon, I figured out how to unlock the fuel cap on this tin can of a vehicle. Small wins. What did Rick Steves’ readers do before Google?

I feel I have been in Ireland a week, and today is my second day. Time goes more slowly when you travel. That’s what my friend Ate Ball says. I remember having this conversation with some of the runners from the Seoul Flyers run club after I moved to Korea. Every day is filled with so many new experiences, for example, figuring out how to unlock the fuel cap or asking whether you pay for petrol first or pump first, or seeing sheep here painted pink and blue, such that when many, new experiences happen in a day, time sees to pass more slowly.

Here is what I learned from renting a car in Ireland yesterday:

  • call your credit card company before you leave home to find out if you have rental car coverage overseas, and
  • ask the rental company if you can get an automatic if you prefer.

Here’s the vehicle I got yesterday:

A Volkswagen Up!–manual, with right-side steering, i.e., a gear stick better suited for lefties LOL. I was surprised a rental company would let a manual and to a non-native no less.

In any case, Declan at Sixt was awesome. My rental car tab was going to be three times the $100 Travelocity quoted me, but Declan told me to have insurance fees waived, you can is that you have proof of insurance via your credit card company you use to pay.

I saved €180 after spending a couple of hours charging my phone and computer and buying a SIM card, so I could Skype my credit card companies.

I needed to make sure my proof of insurance did not exclude the Republic of Ireland, as the country was excluded from most policies until a few years ago, Declan shared. He said one in five drivers gets into some sort of collision in Ireland, especially in the summer. That seems hyperbolic, doesn’t it?

(I did pass a nasty, one-auto accident on the highway today after the rain. The vehicle flipped, and bystanders were helping remove the last passenger. Everyone looked uninjured, thank God.)

Driving in Ireland is fun! People pass you on the right, and the right lane is the fast lane. I have not heard any honking these two days, even in the rental lot when I could not figure out how to reverse, and cars were lined up behind me. Can you imagine? I mean in the Triangle, people honk a half second after the light turns green. Here, people flash their high beams when they want to pass.

There are an awful lot of traffic circles here. Google Maps is pretty instantaneous in telling you which turn to take. Still I have overshot a few exits and am getting plenty of practice with the reverse gear.

Today, I left a Cork and visited Blarney Castle to kiss the infamous Blarney Stone, said to imbue the kisser with eloquence.

I don’t want to think about how many lips touch that rock in a day; the woman ahead of me would not kiss it.

This evening, I ended my drive around the Ring of Kerry–breathtaking–in the dark because I stopped too many times to take pictures of sheep.This is my little buddy who stuck her head through a brier bush so I could pet her.Mouthy.

After I stopped to take pictures, a young man and a boy pulled over and got out to let the sheep move from that paddock to the one across the street. A flood of fuzzy, little, lamb tails and big, woolly, pink butts ran by in front of me. I wish I could commit that image to memory.

Thank you to Eileen, the bartender at Pat Geaney’s who served me a pizza and Killarney IPA and warm conversation before they closed.

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