An Irish Drive-A-Thon

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August 13th 2011
Published: August 25th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

It's now 3 months since my Eastern European adventure, and it's been anything but quiet. Despite travelling all over England, and even to Dublin itself for a music festival a few weekends prior, I consider this Ireland trip to be my first slice of real travelling since (as well as my last ever bit of travelling in my 20's!). This time I would be accompanied by the lovely Stephanie, a fellow escapee from South Africa who fled with us on a neighbouring yacht many years ago, and who is currently out from her home in California.

Flying with the ever so classy RyanAir, we started our Irish adventure to the incredibly cheesey jingle that lets you know you've arrived on time. As they tend to play it even when you arrive late, I suspect it's actually more of an indication that you've arrived alive and in the right country.

We got our humourously bug-eyed Budget rental car right away, and soon discovered our penchance for being extremely jammy buggers when it comes to driving in Ireland. With a map that looked like it was drawn by a 3 year old on crack, we decided on driving in a kind of search pattern to find our hostel, meandering left and right as we made our way South in search of some clue to our location. At least we got a cool tour of Dublin at night in the process, and I must say it was really buzzing for a Wednesday night - We were both quite excited at the prospect of returning for a Friday night out! It wasn't too long before out of nowhere Stephanie recognised our hostel from a picture on their website. (I knew I brought her along for some reason!) Our phenomenal good fortune would not end there either, as you lucky readers are about to find out.

We headed West the next day for the long drive to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. The scenery was very New Zealand-esque in my opinion, with lots of cows, sheep, and rolling green hills. Except that it was supposedly mid-summer and miserably grey, but at least that meant we were getting a true Irish experience. Some time into the journey Stephanie, being slightly fidgety, did a bit of ruffling through the glove box. Rental car receipts. Car manuals. And a big leather wallet. Hmmm... What could be in such a big non-descript leather wallet? A better map perhaps? Lewd photos? A large wad of cash that some forgetful criminal hid in a rental getaway car after a successful bank-heist? If you guessed the latter option, you were right! Well, except for the criminal bit, I just made that up.

What Steph had found was an envelope with about €1750 in it. (That's close to NZ$3000!) I did my best to keep us on the road as I took an incredulous look at Steph's discovery. Unbelievable. This was going to be one hell of a trip!! But the question is: What would you do with such a find? Return it? Or is €1750 enough to satisfy your conscience? And what kind of retard manages to misplace this sort of money in the first place? We spent a lot of time discussing this over the next few days, and all I know is: it's amazing how difficult it becomes to “do the right thing” once you've started spending the money in your head. More on this later though.

We eventually got to the Cliffs of Moher by about 3pm, the majestic cliffs that span 8km of
Mmmm pub meal!Mmmm pub meal!Mmmm pub meal!

At a pub in Limerick
Atlantic coastline and make up one of Ireland's top visitor attractions. At least, that's what the tourism website said. By the time we got there we couldn't see a bloody thing through all the thick fog. We'll just have to take their word for it! We took a walk anyway before carrying on to Limerick for the night (after some further amazing navigational skills from yours-truly, where we felt completely lost before realising that we were on the same road as our hostel!). A Steak & Guinness pie, a pint of Guinness, and some live traditional Irish music later and we were truly ready for bed.

A few hours South the next day and we were at the infamous Blarney castle, where tourists like us come in droves to dangle themselves perilously over a fatal drop and touch lips with a stone even more promiscuous than Mick Jagger himself. All because of a legend which states that a kiss will bestow the gift of eloquence. Aren't legends fun? In any case, I gave the Blarney Stone extra tongue, just to be on the safe side*. I did laugh when I found out Steph wasn't allowed to disinfect the stone first, and also enjoyed loudly proclaiming to the few people after me that we'd practically kissed. They just said it was nice to meet me.

The castle itself dates from 1210AD, and with the surrounding gardens had that mystical atmosphere that ought to accompany any ancient castle. There were dark and musty dungeons only fit for midgets, and also natural caves previously used as escape tunnels to explore. Although fairly small I'll still give it a 7/10 on the cool castle scale, though it doesn't compare to places like the Krak des Chevaliers in Syria, still my favourite castle to date.

We left the castle in a race for the Guinness brewery back in Dublin, and 3 hours or so later made it just in the nick of time. And I'm glad we did too - The brewery tour was very cool. It took place in the old brewery, shaped like a pint glass spanning over 7 levels, and was a very entertaining look at the process of making guinness, the history behind it all, and the clever marketing campaigns they've had over the years. We learnt that the Guiness brewery is the largest brewery in the world. We saw the 9000 year lease that Sir Arthur Guiness signed in 1759 for £45 per year, which is still effective today, even in the heart of Dublin. And we ended the tour at the Gravity Bar at the very top, which included an awesome 360 degree view of Dublin, made all the better by a free pint of Guinness.

After copious amounts of driving I was quite glad to finally get rid of the car and get back to the hostel. That night was Friday, the big night out in Dublin we'd been waiting for! Unfortunately we were both so exhausted from our travels that we just couldn't face it! (Which is just as well, as I had an all-night rave to go to in London the next day!)

We only managed to fit in half a free walking tour of Dublin the next morning before having to catch our afternoon flights. I left Ireland feeling like I needed to go back and experience it again at a more leisurely pace. Hopefully I can fit in another visit while I'm still in this part of the world, as it seems to be a fun place, filled with
On the Walking TourOn the Walking TourOn the Walking Tour

Apparently this wall was built in front of the slums so that the royalty in the castle didn't have to look at them!
friendly people. And even if they're not friendly, you can still laugh at the accent – I love it! (I was constantly getting our walking tour guide to say “potato” and “tirty tree”, which amused me to no end)

So, what happened to the money? Well, we took it back to London with us, and it's still sitting in the big black wallet in my room, taunting me. Unfortunately though there was also a receipt in the wallet with an email address. If it wasn't for that I think I could have happily kept it, but I've just now received an email reply which confirms ownership. Funnily enough they do want it back. Ah well, next time eh?

*This sentence is a lie. **
** Obviously not that sentence, but the one it was referring to. If the sentence above was a lie it would be a completely paradoxical statement, which is confusing to say the least.

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


At the Cliffs of MoherAt the Cliffs of Moher
At the Cliffs of Moher

If you look really hard, you can see cliffs in the background...
A romantic sceneA romantic scene
A romantic scene

with giant slugs!

26th September 2011

Hi Ireland Travel Buddy!
Clay you seriously are an amazing writer. This made me laugh! Hmmm but since I'm a journalism major I can't help but correct you: we traveled West to Galway (not East) and Guinness has two "N's" haha. Anyway, the trip was fun and rushed...gotta go back and spend more time there. I enjoyed my portion of the money in Europe!! What a good person you are =]
15th October 2011

Hey fellow escapee!
Hehe, thanks!! Always glad to get some positive feedback! Cheers for the corrections, I'll change it now. Hope you're settling back into Californian life and not missing Europe too much :)

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