The Challenge of Dublin

Above is the first picture I took in Dublin…nay, in Ireland. It’s the best evidence that indicates that I have arrived. It is Leinster St, at least according to Google Maps, located just south of Trinity College. In a four block area, this street starts out as Clare St. It then becomes Leinster St., a block later Nassau St. and finally St. Andrew St., if your heading east. To further add to the confusion, there are a limited amount of street signs, so often you find yourself simply guessing whether you’re heading in the correct direction. Apparently the city planners feel that Dublin has been around long enough that people should just know where everything is, and if you’re new to the city, well tough luck pal, it’s a tough life.

My opinion of the city so far is clearly biased by the fact that I am new traveler, and my mind is still in the “Oh-my-gawd-I’m-in-frickin-Ireland!” phase. So bear this in mind.

Being the first day in the city, I had to deal with first day issues, which means airports, rental cars, and hotel check-ins. The seven hour flight itself was okay, aside from the fact that I taken two Excedrin PM’s and washed it down with a tiny bottle of Glenlivet, hoping this would allow me to sleep for the majority of the trip. What happened instead was that I slept for one hour and then found out that in-flight movie had far more vivid colors that I had thought possible.

After sobering up and landing, I the picked up the first rental car and drove it into the city, with the plan of checking in to the hotel and maybe catching an hour nap before heading back to the airport to pick up my friend Krysta. What happened? Let’s just say that I accomplished what could only be described as a challenge of travel cruelty.

The next time you travel to Dublin, try to accomplish the following: Get into your rental car, get acquainted with driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car, at the same time trying to navigate and understand local Irish Driving rules and traditions, while wrestling with a unfamiliar GPS system that keeps politely telling you that you have to turn left at the “Fohk” while the screen is telling you to turn right.

…on one hour of sleep.

That I managed to not only make it the eight miles into town is something of a small feat. That I only managed to have one person honk angrily at me is a miracle. “Fohk” is “Fork”. But a sleep deprived mind does not interpret it as such. The screen was showing a future turn thanks to an improper setting, but an addled mind will not realize this at first. And the road rules in Dublin? Well, no mind can figure those out.

About Dublin’s roads: they are not designed for convenience or efficiency as much as they are designed for simply trying to make everything “fit” into the map. On the major thoroughfares there are lanes designated for buses and taxis only. This is all well and good until, for reasons not yet understood, they simply disappear, forcing the buses and taxis into your lane. This is a bit of a shock and will continue to be so until one takes the philosophy that Ireland traffic laws are designed not so much for safety as they are for keeping drivers alert and paranoid.

For example. I was driving along in the proper lane minding my own business. The next thing I realize, I’m at a traffic light that is forcing me to turn right. As my hotel is not right, but rather directly ahead in 4 kilometers, this was a bit distressing, compounded by the fact that the GPS is politely telling me to merge into traffic. Apparently middle lanes magically transform into right turn only lanes with no forewarning. I’ve done nothing wrong, technically. The lane simply decided it was time for you to make a right turn, regardless of your wants.

The rest of the day went smoothly, even though I was exhausted. I had to return the initial rental car as it was making odd whining noises from the back axle. Krysta’s flight was delayed. And, oh yeah, apparently construction in front of the airport will affect the flow of traffic ten kilometers away in downtown Dublin. It took me something along the lines of ninety minutes to travel six and a half miles.

But people don’t come to Ireland to fawn over their road and traffic designs. They come for other reasons. It is for this understanding that I am still in a great mood. At the moment, Dublin proper is unexplored. Right now, this makes me feel like a child who is looking forward to opening up a large gift.