Thoughts, Reactions and Commentary
Of course the driving is a little different in
Ireland, and the UK. I was in England in March of 2016 and
November of 2015 so I have some experience here in the past
year. You drive on the left side of the road and the driver
sits on the right side of the car. Most cars are standard
shift (that's what I've been driving) and the shift lever is
then in your left hand.
While driving on the left is different, it's not all
that difficult to adjust to. The more challenging thing is
the road markings, signs, etc. They aren't always consistent
and sometimes they just don't exist. A GPS is imperative if
you're touring (especially driving) here. If you had to
follow road sings or street names in cities, you would have a
very difficult time. We went for just a few miles of driving
in Burren National park. We knew that the road went north
into a town, and T into another road that went along the
coast. We had to turn left to go West along the coast. When
we go to the intersection, we weren't sure of it because
there was no sign marking the highway number (and it is a
coastal highway). We guess that we hadn't gotten to that
intersection yet and continued on the larger route, and soon
realized that we had missed our turn. We fired up the GPS and
quickly got back on track.
There are markings on the street that I've seen in
both the UK and Ireland and I still don't know what they
are.. these squiggly lines along the sides of the street near
Also, the lanes of the roads are marked with a white
line, whether the traffic is opposing or headed the same
direction. So you can't know with confidence when you're
crossing into oncoming traffic.
Lastly, the drivers in Ireland and the UK, are better drivers than drivers (in general) in the US. They practically never dive slow in the fast lane on the "motorway", or "camp out" in the center lane. The vast majority drive manual shift cars, and they seldom miss using their turn signals. Even when they are going to make a right turn in a round about (that is, go 3/4 of the way around) they signal a right turn for that.
The first rental car I had was a Peugeot automatic, even though I had requested a standard shift (I'm convinced that they travel agency messed up the reservation because the insurance aspect was not correct as well). It was pretty anemic and it had automatic engine shut-off which is very typical in Europe. When you stopped the car, the engine would shut off. Then when you took your foot off the brake it would start up, but not very quickly, and it seemed to not have much power pulling away from a stop.
At dinner with the customer on Tuesday evening, they asked us what we thought about the election. They said that Europeans are following it very closely.
I asked them if the election was held in Northern Ireland who would win. They said they thought Hillary would win because the people there are very fond of Bill Clinton, because of his efforts in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. They said that Bill Clinton was working behind the scenes quite a lot to bring people together for peace. They said that Clinton would call someone and tell them that he expected them to meet with someone on the opposition side and he would give them a deadline to have it done, and then call them at the deadline to see if it was done. So he was very pro-active in the peace process.
The second rental car I had was a Hyundai hatchback with a 6 speed manual (very similar to my Focus
ST) except that it was pretty anemic too. It ran good and handled nice but trying to pass other cars was almost impossible. It just didn't have the acceleration.
The Hyundai had a feature that I think most European cars have, push button retractable side view mirrors. You need this on narrow streets and roads. I didn't use it one time in Waterford and banged the mirror on a parked car's mirror (don't tell Hertz). I used it a couple of time going past busses on the narrow roads in the Burren National Park.
BathroomsI have kind of a pet peave on bathrooms in Ireland and the UK. I'll get that written up in a bit.
Hotel Light Switches
Kind of a similar pet peave as with the bathrooms. Some day I'll write it up.
Ireland vs. Northern Ireland
I did not know the difference between Ireland and Norther Ireland (they are two different countries), but when I drove from Ireland to Northern Ireland it was very obvious they are different. In Ireland, the speed limit is in KPH. In Northern Ireland, it in MPH. In Ireland, the road signs (at least on the national roads) have both Irish and English language. In Northern Ireland it's English only.
In Ireland, the currency is the Euro, in Northern Ireland, its the Pound Sterling.
So when I got to the hotel, a top priority was going to Wikipedia to see what the difference is.
Here's the deal. Ireland is an independent country (since 1921). Northern Ireland is a part of the UK. Americans my age can remember the bitter fighting (including much terrorism) back in the 60s all the way until the peace agreement in 1998. That period is known as "The Troubles." The people in Northern Ireland remember it very well. I was told that you could tell buildings that were built since the end of "The Troubles" as they have a lot of windows. "You couldn't do that before," he said.
October 28 - Friday
October 29 - Saturday
October 30 - Sunday
October 31 - Monday