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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Land of the Four Leaf Clover

The river in Dublin outside James Joyce's house

We landed at Dublin airport in pouring rain at 8.30 am local time but a searing 8 hours ahead of our California time of 2.30 am and 6 ahead of Chicago and Mexico time, bleary and as severely jet lagged as when we arrived in Chile from New Zealand.


The airline staff immediately tried to treat me as a disabled person and tried to escort me down the stairs and put us in a disabled vehicle to get to immigration, which was full to overflowing with a huge snaking queue of several flights and there were only two immigration desks functioning leading to a chaotic scenes of people almost missing their ongoing EU connections, before a few more official sauntered in half an hour later and the queue began moving. What Ireland thinks this does for the tourist industry is anyone's guess.

Driving out on the N7

Far from our fears of being refused a rental car, Budget didn't turn a hair at my crutches, but insisted on and additional $13 a day full insurance cover or they would take an additional advance fee of $1200 euros for any accident however trivial as a penalty for loss of hireage.


We took off through Dublin and eventually found our way on the motorway to Naess then getting caught in a string of congested towns when we tried to drive across country to see a bit of Ireland, Bu the time we got on the motorway heading west to Port Laois I was beginning to black out every time I blinked my eyes and starting to veer across the lanes, so we pulled over and had some lunch, passed on through a heritage town called Abbeyleix.


Naess panorama (click to enlarge)

One of the most surprising things is how many Irish people speak Gaelic to one another, rather than English.

Heritage house Abbeyliex


Panorama of Abbeyliex (click to enlarge)


After driving through several villages in search of a place to stop and a concerted search through the lonely planet, we settled on trying to stay awake long enough for a 40 km drive to Cashel where we found a neat farm hostel and camping site with panoramic views up to the famous "Rock of Cashel", with showers and kitchen facilities for the unseemly total of 20 Euros a night.

The Rock of Cashel

Two traditional views of the Rock

The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. Few remnants of the early structures survive; the majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries. Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century.

So now we have finally used everything we have dragged through Latin America, including the tent, maths stove, inverter for powering everything in the car, and all our coldest weather gear we through we might discard after leaving Chile. So camping in Europe is the phoenix from the ashes of Latin America and the metamorphosis of the caterpillar of dragging the tent so far through ten or so countries into the butterfly of cheap accommodation in Europe (as long as it doesn't rain!).

Campsite overlooking the Rock

Christine emerging in the morning

More on Ireland and its green hills and mossy peninsulas next blog!

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