One of the things about traveling to NW Ireland that people should know is that you are going to have to rent a car. There is very little public transportation and no trains. Cars are, however, expensive so brace yourself. We reserved the most economical non stick shift car we could afford. Seriously, we didn’t want to be dealing with being on the opposite side of the car on the opposite side of the road and throw gear shifting into the equation.
When we got to the Belfast airport after flying all night we were greeted by a cheery rental car attendant who promptly informed us that our car was a CONVERTIBLE. I think Stephen and I must have starred at her because she repeated a few times. We had a co-mingled response of “Can we change that?” and “Why do they have convertibles in Ireland?” She informed us that it was the ONLY kind of car she had but lucky for us it was a hard top. Really the woman was so pleasant that we could hardly argue with her so we signed the massive amounts of paperwork and went searching for our car. Turns out it wasn’t so bad if you were, say 5’8” and could sit in the passenger seat. If you were 6’1” and had to drive, or any height and had to sit in the back it was a little tricky.
So, driving in Ireland, hmmm. Well first off you should know that every year Ireland ties Portugal for most driving accidents in Europe. Second, the roads in NW Ireland are sidewalks compared with most American cities so if you are say 5’8” and sit in the passenger seat be prepared for a lot of sticks and such hitting the car. AND since this is the seat you normally sit in to drive in America try not to scream “WATCH OUT” too often. As Stephen pointed out, it’s better to run into a hedge than into an oncoming car. The best part of driving in Ireland is that everyone you pass on the road (except the few big roads) waves at you. And the scenery is terrific.
This first day we drove we took this hilly road from Ballyliffen to Buncrana. When we saw it was this small winding road going off into the fog. The funniest part was when we got to the base of the hill (I’m not making this up) there was an official sign painted on the road that said “GOOD LUCK”. We all laughed and went on. Over the course of the trip we drove over this road several times, always in the rain or fog and couldn’t really see why it had such an ominous sign. On our last day however it was sunny. When I saw just exactly how steep a drop it was into the ocean and that there were no guard rails I almost had to breath into a paper bag. Luckily, it was finally sunny and we got to drive with the top down (the one and only time)