Once we got to Galway, we rented a car. The functionality of it was fairly perfect - you get off the train in Galway, leave the train station, turn left, walk half a block to the main square, cross one street, and you're at the Budget Rental Car office. Easy peasy, even in a light rain.
Once there, however, they really get you. Extra $ for a "premiere"
pick up location, extra $ for taxes, extra $ for BF to be a driver too,
etc, etc. When I booked our car online, it quoted me $250 for Friday
afternoon through Sunday afternoon for an automatic car and a GPS
system. I considered bringing my GPS, and getting the Garmin update for
Western Europe ($99), but figured the $45 they were charging would do us
just fine. Problem was? After all was said and done, the rental car
cost us $450! $40 of that was them charging ahead of time for a full
tank of gas, which we had refunded when we brought the car back with 3/4
of a tank, but oh wow did the extra fees sucker punch me. Next time,
I'll do my best to pick up the car from an airport, preferably in Dublin
where there are numerous companies and some actual competitive prices.
finally got done with the paperwork, etc, we had to trek to the parking
garage. They give you the car keys and the GPS and send you merrily on
your way with a map to the parking garage and not a whole lot else. You
go to the garage, talk to the guy to get a ticket so you can get out,
and then take a rickety elevator up to the third floor and hunt for your
car with the description and license plate number they give you. Yeah,
it was an adventure. We finally found the car, loaded up, and started on
Get your GPS working before you go into the parking garage. There's no
signal in the parking garage, so if the GPS isn't working before hand,
you'll leave the garage and be tossed into driving on the wrong side of
the road with absolutely nowhere to pull over, loads of impatient
drivers, and no idea of where you're going.
The first 10 minutes in the car were the only time the whole trip that we fought.
hardest part for me was getting my bearings and my spacial awareness
down. It's very strange to have more car to your left! I almost
sideswiped several cars, especially when the road we were on took us
through the incredibly busy and quick moving Eyre Square. BF says I
bumped into some guy's sleeve, but I'm not so sure. It was incredibly
stressful, however, until we got the GPS working and had a destination
in mind so that I could fully concentrate on the driving part. I'll
admit that there was a moment there where I just wanted to stop, cry,
and let BF take over. But I did it, and I'm so happy that I did! Once I
got a hang of it, it was a breeze! And fun, too - such a different
In Ireland, the white lines are the lane divider lines, and the yellow
lines mark the shoulder of the road. That one took me a while to get
used to, as here the white lines mark the shoulder.
car was totally worth it, as we were able to go all over the place, and
to any little nook or road we wanted to. We drove North from Galway,
ending up in Ballyshannon for the night, drove farther north the next
day, then back to Ballyshannon for another night. In the course of the
day and a half of exploring in the car, we drove over 700 km (430 miles)
- a lot of driving in approximately 18 hours.
Irish roads are an adventure. With the exception of a couple highways,
we mostly drove on small, country roads. And they were all two lanes,
even though it didn't feel like it half the time. When the road isn't
wide enough for two cars, and there's another car coming, whoever can
pull over first, does. It's a very polite system, and we never had an
issue with the roads, except for one by a lake that had some blind
curves. We were almost hit head on by a BMW on that one, and he had to
back up so that we could pass each other!
By the time we returned the car on Sunday afternoon, I was an old pro. I was finally driving the speed limit, and cranked our Hyundai Accent up to 110 kmph (A risky 68 mph)! I mastered the round-a-bouts, and even backed the car into the parking spot when we returned to the garage. I'm definitely all for renting a car if you want to tour Ireland and get off the beaten path!