Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ireland II: The Great Irish Road Trip

Wow, I just re-read my Limerick post, and I think the sleep deprivation was starting to get to me. I got a good two-hour power nap in between 8 and 10, though, so (unfortunately) I'm wide awake now. Personally, I'd rather have a solid 12 hours, but I guess I should use my energy while I have it. Anyways, the two people in this photo are Amalise (AH-mah-leez) and Joust (YOWST), and I really hope I haven't completely butchered their names. They're from the Netherlands. Amalise was studying abroad at the University of Limerick this semester, and Joust - her boyfriend - had just arrived to visit her the day before our little adventure. We met them at the bus station; the company listed the wrong departure time for the area we wanted, and the second we realized our frustrations were, in fact, mutual frustrations, we began to hatch a plan.

After talking the cabbie down to €5 each, we crammed six people (including the driver) into an economy-sized car and headed for Shannon International. There, we (well, it was in our Dutch friend's name) rented a car, found a road map, divvied up the fare, and struck out towards County Clare for the day. We didn't even get lost. On the contrary, we had a great time and Chad got to tick one of his 'to-dos' of The Life List (To Do: Go on an impromptu road trip with Europeans I don't know.)

County Clare is a patchwork of green hemmed in with grey stone walls, briers, and dotted with sheep. Even in December there were more shades of green in those pastures than I can recall seeing since coming to Europe, and that includes Cornwall and the Cotswolds. About every half mile, we passed a dilapidated tower, house, or other unidentifiable stone ruin, and about every 5 miles we came upon a roofless, abandoned church crumbling in upon itself with tall, jagged tombstones jutting out at odd angles. I really want nothing more than to go exploring in those pastures - I think I'm putting it on my newly updated Life List (going to see Hamlet with Patrick Stewart next weekend means there's going to be a free space, and I'm much too young for free spaces).

I'm just going to post the rest of the pictures in no particular order - they were all taken out the window of a moving vehicle, so expect some severe fuzziness.

Joust, Amalise - if you're out there, and if you ever happen upon this page, you really saved our Ireland experience for us! Nothing we could have concocted at the last minute would have worked out nearly this well, as it appears 5 people is the magic number for both reduced cab fare AND a €10 rental car. And - you know - it didn't hurt that you both had E.U. licenses and insurance policies.

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