When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they were tucked in their Rob & Laura Petrie twin beds at the Burlington in Dublin. Friday morning dawned, bright and sunny, yet again belying the cliche of rainy Ireland. We hustled to get packed and out of town early. Our plan was to spend the next 3 nights on the road. Lib edited her clothing choices to one, medium suitcase and left the rest in the hotel, which we had booked for the whole week. I had one huge suitcase, courtesy of my dear mother-in-law, Virginia, and one small. Not knowing what we would need I lugged the whole mess out to the car.
I don’t know about y’all, but I always overpack. I think I ruptured some important, internal organs wrestling that huge, blue suitcase in and out of the hotel. I included about 15 different changes of clothing, but ended up wearing perhaps 3 outfits the whole week. (Liz is a master at this. She comes home for the weekend with 3 suitcases, usually including 7 pairs of shoes. Last weekend she traveled light and wore flip flops. It snowed 3 inches.)
I hasten to assure you there was no rotating undergarments, however, mainly because we were in constant expectation of having a horrible car crash and wouldn’t want to be embarrassed. Every time we stopped at a gas station, or point of interest, I would have to sit and remind myself “left side of the road, left side of the road” before starting out. Several times Lib sucked all of the air out of the car as I drove off, as she’d temporarily forgotten that whole left side thing.
The plan was to mosey south, down the east coast, and end up in the city of Cork at night. We knew we wanted to see the maritime museum in the harbor town of Cobh not far from Cork, but other than that, we had no plans.
Serendipity was to be the watchword for our trip! Whenever we got lost, which was more than once, or were running behind schedule, or wandered off the main highway, I repeated our mantra -“It’s all just serendipity!” (I was going for an Auntie Mame sort of vibe, but typing that, it now sounds like something you would hear the mayor’s wife say in The Music Man. In retrospect, my mantra might have sounded annoyingly pretentious. Drat!)
The only big highways – 2 lanes each way, divided highway – were around Dublin. We decided to take the highway south in order to make some time, but reserved the right to pull off whenever we wanted. We skipped breakfast because we didn’t want to waste the time, so after a couple of hours on the road we were in desperate need of coffee. We pulled off at the seaside town of Greystones.
This particular adventure was the first of many designed to show us the unreliability of Irish roadsigns. I had read something in one of my guidebooks about Greystones being a quaint village. We had 4 books; 2 purchased, and 2 on loan from the library. Don’t tell – I think they’d take away my card if they knew the books were out of the country. What the books and the sign didn’t say, was that the town was quite a ways off the highway. The signs don’t mention the distance, and if they do, it’s in something called kilometers! What’s with that? We also first came into contact with the traffic circle, or roundabout. That was truly terrifying, because of the left side of the road rule. (By the time we were zipping back to the airport like natives, one week later, I had decided America needs roundabouts – no waiting at traffic lights). But I digress. I do that. A lot.
Greystones WAS a charming village, totally untouristy, just Irish people going about their
lives. We parked along the water and got out for a walk. We found a path down between the boulders and there we were – mano a mano with the Irish Sea. The beach was an expanse of tiny pebbles, too big to be called sand. Lib ventured down, out onto the boulders and did her “Old Man and the Sea” impression. Looking out at the unreachable horizon, wind whipping her hair back, surf pounding against the craggy rocks she gruffly intoned “the sea – she’s a hoary bitch!”
Cracked us up! You know how in grade school, someone in your group would say something stupid/funny at the lunch table, and you all would start laughing hysterically and you just couldn’t stop? It was like that, except without the milk squirting out of our noses.
Hoary bitch, of course, became an instant legend, another trip mantra.
We asked a native (everyone was walking in town – lots of mothers with babies in prams down by the water) where to go for lunch, and ended up at a little tea shop where we were just in time to share our first, traditional Irish breakfast with scones. Yum!
Since our little side trip had taken much longer than anticipated (That is the true lesson of Ireland – it ALWAYS takes longer to get anywhere than you think), we had to dash back onto the highway and continue on our way toward Cork, and further adventures.
TTFN (ta-ta for now)