Courageous, Confident or Just Plain Crazy!..Driving tips for Ireland from a Canadian Girl

“If you believe you can-YOU WILL!”

 Upon returning safely from a 3 week trip to Ireland, I thought I would share a few driving tips. 

Being a Canadian girl, traveling alone in Ireland…  

Driving on the ‘left side’ of the road- was my biggest fear. 

Do one thing a day that scares you!  Check!

Do one thing a day that scares you! Check!

However, I am a stubborn Virgo and my desire to see the countryside on my own timeline…outweighed my fear.   I was praying to find a cute Irish driver to drive me around, but apparently that was not in my divine plan.

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It was just me, my rental car, GPS and a few trusty road maps.  

With a quick lesson on a deserted beach under my belt- I headed out. 

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Driving lesson on the Beach

Reminding myself that people drive in Ireland everyday.  I am proud to report… I survived the challenge and conquered my fear. 

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I have to say I was never more PRESENT in my LIFE!

Happily, I returned my rental car without a scratch, covered many miles, saw beautiful vista’s, almost on one tank of Diesel.

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My Rental Car- Safely returned

If you’re planning a road trip to Ireland…Read on.

Tips before you leave-

  • ·      GET a GPS- it will be your best friend
  • ·      Bring a CDW Insurance travel letter-if you have coverage on your credit card
  • ·      Bring music or buy a good Irish music CD-Irish radio talk is endless and not very soothing for the nervous soul.  

Most of the rental cars in Ireland are manual- Shift on the Left.  Pedals and Clutch are the same as in North America.  Automatic Transmissions are available, but harder to find and more expensive.  I rented my car before I left through Costco online and brought a travel letter from my visa company to wave the insurance.  If you’re not covered… I highly recommend getting the insurance.  The roads are rather narrow and the tour buses are very large.  Don’t be scared.   If I survived, so can you!  

Here are my Tips… 

  • ·      Put the correct spelling in GPS- A 1 letter slip up sent me the opposite direction.
  • ·      Make sure Rental car has insurance, floor mats and a good old fashion road map- it rains a lot in Ireland and a missing floor mat makes for a very slippery clutch.  Learned this the hard way.
  • ·      Gas- for you and the car.  Road snacks and proper hydration
  • ·      Stay LEFT- LOOK RIGHT, TURN LEFT… repeat, repeat.
  • ·      Always keep body to middle of road or white line to middle of road
  • ·      Learn Roundabouts- Trick: you can ride them around and around if you miss your exit.  I also heard the locals do stop and wait, if you happen to go the wrong direction.
  • ·      For the most part Trust your GPS- It will reroute you, however when in doubt or in the middle of nowhere.  STOP and ASK a local for directions.  Remember all roads eventually lead somewhere…unless the road is closed…reroute via a local.  The Irish are very kind, patient and more than willing to help.
  • ·      Use side mirrors to gauge the edge of the road. 
  • ·      Back into parking stalls whenever possible.
  • ·      Travel early to avoid Tour buses.
  • ·      Have money for toll roads on the M50.
  •        Give yourself ample time.  Time pressures create stress and not a clear mind.
  • ·      Practice YOGA.  Breath Deeply, Fully Exhale.  Relax shoulders and fingers.  Stretch occasionally.  Pull over and cry when necessary.  Set intention for safety and good weather.  Expect a few roadblocks. 

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    Bonus: The sheep do not move.

My Mantra’s

  • ·      If you believe you can, you will!
  • ·      I am a good driver… I will get to my destination safely.
  • ·      All roads lead to somewhere. 

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Benefits of driving on the opposite side:

  • Increased Alertness & Awareness= Present Moment Living
  • Challenge your fears.  Success= Empowerment
  • ·           Senses are heightened.

Go dté sibh slán…May you go safely

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Enjoy the beauty!

Michelle

Bonus tip:  Bring a 3 prong adapter.

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Adapter for your electronics.

 

 

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Beneath a Coat of Snow

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“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”   ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am officially calling a sick day. My head is full of cold and my feet feel like they are full of cement.

As I sit on my couch in my fuzzy red comfortable robe at 2pm, I am watching the snow fall gently onto the earth. I am not feeling at all guilty to be taking a sick day. There is a lightness in the air, objects are slightly blurry and the colors I see are mostly soft and covered in white snow. It is quiet and I am grateful to have a day of rest and reflection.

Almost a year ago, I planned a trip to Virginia to see my cousin and her family. The trip was perfectly planned around the famous Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.   I packed my sketchbook and paints and was set out to have an art adventure, to be inspired by new sites, especially of the beautiful spring cherry blossoms that I have heard so much about.   I LOVE to travel-it is eye-candy for the senses. There is also the unexpected. Many times things do not go as planned yet when you learn to embrace the present moment, they can still go perfectly as intended…   Don’t fight the process.

On my first day in Virginia, I awoke to a similar scene as I am looking at today. Snow was gently falling and there was a chill in the air.

My cousin, Alexis and I are 7 years apart and really had only met each other less than a dozen times in our life. Yet, I felt like I was home, we shared the same grandmother, pictures in her home and stories we shared were familiar to me. We also both loved going for coffee and eating similar things. It was easy and fun to be with her.

She was a gracious host and showed me all the sites.

Despite the cold, cool temperatures we bundled up and headed out to see the memorials in Washington, DC. It was apparent that I needed a history lesson (or to watch more TV) when I pointed to a large pencil like structure and asked “What is that?” With huge eyes and a sly smile she replied “The Washington Monument.”

And so began my tour…

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Disclaimer: Just to make me feel better – I did recognize the White House immediately. I am also happy to say I can name all the memorials now when I see them in the movies. The bonus of travel for a visual person is education.  Did I mention that I am Canadian?

National World War II Memorial

National World War II Memorial

Korean Monument

Korean Monument 

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

We made our way through the memorials one by one. Alexis was being an amazing tour guide. Explaining to me that the Korean memorial was her favorite. as it touched her and her family. They really are amazing to see in person. There was a shallow pool approximately 2 ft deep surrounded by granite with engraving that said how many soldiers were killed, captured, missing or wounded. I was looking all around taking pictures, feeling somber and reflective, when the energy changed.

I hear someone shouting- Lady in the pool!! I take a deep breath, turned around to see that my dear cousin had taken one wrong step backwards and over she went, catching her foot in granite that actually said “wounded.” Weird coincidence? Hmm, not sure. The world seemed to stop for a moment. As I pulled her out of the pool , others were most concerned about the fact that her brand new I-phone was laying peacefully face down on the bottom of the pool. “The phone!” strangers screamed. I looked at the pretty salmon colored case face down in the pool and thought, “I need a stick”. I look up and a woman is waving her cane. We make eye contact – A little miracle- an angel sent her- I am sure. I borrowed the cane and pulled the phone close enough for a kind boy with long arms to reach in and retrieve her phone, complete with instructions on what to do to recover the phone.   The concern for the phone was a little alarming actually…I was more concerned about my cousin.

I look over at her, she is dripping wet, shivering and totally in shock. We walk over to sit down and reassess the situation.   Breathe….

We broke out into laughter. I had learned in yoga, The vibration of laughing and crying is almost the same, the release of energy in the body is what is important. We chose laughter.

Did that just happen? Was that for real? Was that a bad dream? Gut rolling laughter was what emerged right before survival skills kicked in.  A cab ride, extra layers of clothes, a cold pack, motrin and a few bloody mary’s later. We had reflected, laughed and ended up with a free desert at the restaurant in honor of the Best story of the Day. She was my hero that day.

She's a Trooper- Arlington Cementary- We are Alive and Moving- crutches and all!

She’s a Trooper- Arlington Cementary- We are Alive and Moving- crutches and all!

The next day while icing her elevated ankle , we wondered, “What was the purpose of that? “

Maybe we needed some comic relief in our somber moment? Not sure. We both agreed the spirits got a good giggle. (about the present moment awareness, not about her injured ankle.)

Maybe we needed to feel the kindness of others?     Not sure.

Maybe we needed to be here right now!    

That is for sure!

With Lightness and Love and Gratitude for family and travel,

Michelle

The tile under my feet at the Lincoln Memorial. I HAVE A DREAM!

The tile under my feet at the Lincoln Memorial.
I HAVE A DREAM!

Ps/ And for those concerned about the phone- it worked perfectly- Magic!