Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Leaving Dublin, Heading South

In St. Stephen's Green

The Famine Sculpture, St. Stephen's Green

Ulysses on the sidewalk

Leinster House; the National Library is on one side, the National Museum on the other

Our latest car, a Kia Picanto

Friday, May 1, we packed up, lockered our gear, and checked out of the Avalon House. We strolled around the south side of the river, having become more and more familiar with the CBD in the past three days, shopped along Grafton St., and then walked around St. Stephen's Green. For most of the day we returned to Kildare St. and looked around the wonderful exhibits in the National Museum. The stone and bronze age items were of particular interest, as were those from the Celtic Christian and Viking eras. Several video presentations enhanced the extraordinary artifacts. From the museum, we passed back by Trinity for the VAT refund form on the previous day's purchases, and also Peterson's Pipe Store, crossed the Liffey, lunched on Marks and Spencer's specials, and then finished our Dublin experience with the purchase of a GPS device at PC World (we've been researching, shopping for this). More of this later.

We collected our six bags at Avalon House, schlepped them down the street a block, and then caught the 16A bus back to the airport to pick up our rental car at Irish Car Rentals. We had been hoping for another Subaru Forester (dream on...) or an upgrade of any sort, but, alas, were presented with a Kia Picanto. In size, it is the next thing up from a Smart Car. But it will do. The most challenging aspect of the matter is that it is a manual transmission model, so that, in addition to re-learning how to drive on the “proper” side and “proper” side traffic patterns, I also have to shift with my left hand. Fortunately, I am somewhat ambidextrous (I was fully ambidextrous as a child; another story...). Vicki has had to prompt me onto the left side a couple of times, and I have stalled the car a couple times, but, otherwise, we are coping.

After a few practice turns in the rental car parking lot, we sallied forth onto the N50, around Dublin, found the N11 and then, at length, our campground at Red Cross, near the Wicklow mountains. This navigational feat was helped along by our navigator, Tom (Thom Thomas?), who speaks with a decidedly British accent, although he is multi-lingual and can do female impersonations as well. (We bought a TomTom One, with maps for 31 European nations.) Tom is a marvel and already our guide and best friend.

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