Before I dive into the arrival, I had booked my car rental through holidayautos.com. As it is a third party aggregate site you don’t actually deal with the car rentals directly, similar to dealing with a broker. Can you guess where this is going? Well I got an amazing deal, 185.67 Euro which is $264.66 Canadian for 13 days. It was also an Estate (station wagon) so I could sleep in the back when in between overnight spots. To do my due diligence, I did contact Sixt Rent a Car which is who was providing the car to confirm the booking. Thankfully, confirmed before I left Canada.
Fast forward to the day of departure, I was flying through Chicago which meant having to go through security again in the States. American TSA agents really need a hug. They cannot seem to go a few seconds without belting something at the top of their lungs. From Chicago it was a direct flight on the lucky charms airline, Aer Lingus, to Dublin.
I arrived at about 05:00 and by the time I had my bags and through customs it was about 06:00 which was great as Sixt opens at 06:00. By 06:40 someone showed up and being maybe the 4th in line I figured I would be up there pretty quick. Nope, took him about 15 minutes per person and he was basically rejecting everyone stating they needed to pay for the additional insurance or a specific certificate.
I brought my terms of service from my Visa showing I have coverage even though I’m refusing their CDW as this (according to my previous Sixt communication) was all I needed. Well this guy wanted a specific certificate showing that Visa will cover Ireland and Northern Ireland and no general generic thing that already shows what countries are covered.
Needless to say it was about 02:00 in the morning on a Sunday in Toronto which is where CIBC head office. I’m happy say that after a bunch of goofing around and the Sixt guy giving me the wrong email address three times, CIBC pulled through and emailed him! I can’t thank CIBC enough. I felt bad for the rest as they started going to the other booths and asking for rentals as none of their banks were open or willing to do it until Monday.
Turns out they also don’t have any estates at the airport so they gave me a small crossover thing instead. Brilliant. Once I had my bags and actually AT the car it was about 09:00. Needless to say I was rather frustrated at this point and carrying my bags to the car I find they parked it in the far corner against the fence surrounded by rather pricy BMW’s and Mercedes in front and beside me.
Now this is the first time I’ve driven a car while sitting in the passenger seat…. Which is now the driver’s seat. Saying I drove out of that lot slowly I’m sure would be an understatement! But I left, I hit the first traffic circle and the rental car woes were behind me… Ireland awaits!
The Irish LOVE traffic circles. After driving around a few traffic circles and then a few more circles, the first stop was Trim Castle. Trim Castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and was built in the 12th century.
I do love a bit of adventure and the Loughcrew Passage Tomb was a pleasant first day warm up. To view the tomb you need a key, turns out the key is kept at a village about 10 minutes away. Once you have the key you can hike back up and unlock the tomb!
The Loughcrew Cairns are estimated to have been created in 3300 BC. Loughcrew is the site of megalithic burial grounds which actually spread across the surrounding hills. This is inside the actual burial chambers. It truly was amazing to witness.
I ventured off the beaten track to check out some of the coast line. You can find small piers and roads that lead to the Atlantic almost every few kilometers. Some are in better condition than others but there is no shortage of ocean access.
Being land locked for majority of my life I always find it captivating when I see boats in disrepair. The tide in Ireland is about 3.6 meters, or 12 feet, so come high water, I’m not sure if this is a floater.
Near the little town of Carlingford sits a castle built by Hugh de Lacy, the legend is that King John stayed at the castle for three days in 1210 AD. There have been many alterations made to the castle of the centuries.
On the first day I'd say I saw people the most, then sheep, then slugs. If you are not surrounded by sheep then you’re probably surrounded by slugs. Due to the consistent rain and humidity in Ireland it’s the perfect environment for these little guys!
Still in the Carlingford area, I saw a hill with what look like ruins on it as the sun started to set. Turns out the hill actually held a deserted village from the pre famine.
I didn’t expect to be away from the car for this long so I left my jacket and extra clothing in my backpack. Being surrounded by a new environment I pushed on to the top of a local high point to see what the view had in store. It was wonderful! The small town of Carlingford lit up the night as the rain started to come down. I quickly made a dash back to the car before being completely soaked.
I initially was planning to spend the nice around Carlingford but after a short afternoon snooze at a truck stop I still had a bit of energy left. I ended up pushing through to Belfast in Northern Ireland instead. It’s a bit of a long day but I think the excitement kept be going. "RISE" is a huge 38 meter tall ball that is in the center of a round about in Belfast.
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