Leaving the driving to them

November 18, 2023

  I wanted no part of driving on the wrong side of the road (several of which were glorified pedestrian walkways), in pouring rain and learning to shift with my left arm. (I never did consider which feet went with the brake and accelerator pedals.) Carol was afraid we’d be missing some stunning Irish views by not having access to a car, but that was not the case. And there were no issues getting around in cities or between them. Taxis, trains and buses were all readily available and uncrowded. 

  It swallows cars on those tiny roads 

Boarding city buses requires knowing the method of payment accepted. A couple of times, it was zero, as drivers let us ride free, figuring that was easier than watching two Americans struggling to count up exact change in Irish currency, when they found out they couldn’t tap their credit card. 

“I still expect to occasionally try to shift gears using Carol’s knee, and I’m certain to startle her when I suddenly accelerate when I should be braking.”

  Cabs were “contactless,” and the cabbies all tended to be garrulous and genuinely interested in prying into all of our private lives. One time we happened to mention our mild interest in pursuing dual citizenship, and immediately we were embroiled in a detailed genealogical interview in which we could provide few, if any, specific answers. By the time that ride was over, we knew more about the cabbie’s family tree than our own.

No “quiet” cars here

  Our six-city tour of Ireland’s top half wound involved a combination of three trains and three buses, all offering wonderful views of the country’s emerald meadows and pastures, mountain peaks and craggy shorelines. Excursion buses took us to the Giants Causeway and the Cliffs of Moher. Throughout the three weeks, we never once missed having a car to get around to wherever we wanted to get to. I take that back. Our train from Galway back to Dublin featured a chatterbox foursome with no inside voices. But even this sustained misery was more than offset by buses passing each other on roadways so narrow that when we passed, it was as if we’d reached the nexus of two exact parallel universes. As far as passing cars in these buses, it looked like they were being swallowed whole by the behemoths passing by them. Nope. Didn’t miss a car at all. Until…

  Train and bus stations all had cab stands for local transport, and we had an app that we used to order cabs when we had to. Nevertheless, by the end of the trip, I was telling Carol we will do the bottom half of the country next spring by car. Why? Two things.

  First, the more bus and cab rides we took, the more my visual perception adjusted itself to eventually seeing the right side of the road as the wrong one. I still expect to occasionally try to shift gears using Carol’s knee, and I’m certain to startle her when I suddenly accelerate when I should be braking.

This is not actually a cab, but could be

  But the lower half of Ireland is more rural and dotted with small towns and villages. A car would be the most dependable way of getting around. 

  But there won’t be any annoying chatterboxes to deal with, nor scheduled departures to have to fret over missing.

  The pubs will have to be within walking distance from the hotel’s, of course. Who knows, maybe Carol might even get turned on having her knee unexpectedly used as a gearbox.

She’s sure to miss the garrulousness of the cabbies, though.

 At least we didn’t need this one 


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