Having never left the US, I didn't know what to expect when traveling to Ireland. It was more like a trip to the DMV than some exciting adventure. I think this picture captures the spirit of our trip.
Go to the Airport. Wait in line. Keep waiting. Wait some more. Check bags. Go to security. Wait. Wait in line. Step forward. Wait some more. Go to your gate. Sit down. Wait. Wait some more. Listen to announcements while waiting. Get on board. Wait in your seat. We were told to arrive *six hours* before our flight and the flight itself was another six or seven hours....and after all that, when you finally get to leave the plane....You get back in line. And wait some more.
Eventually we made it. We were in Dublin's airport, with our baggage, on the other side of customs. We just need to 'simply' get a car, drive to pick up the dog, and get to the hotel.
Here's an interesting fact...
If you have a US driver's license you can drive in Ireland provided you are here temporarily. Here's another interesting fact...
ALL OF THE DRIVING RULES ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
Even the most fundamental aspects of driving are different. The steering wheel is on the right. The cars drive on the left. I have no idea whether or not you can turn on red or who yields to who when approaching a stop sign. Or how to property enter a roundabout and when to change lanes prior to exiting the roundabout. And countless other things I'm not even aware of.
Now, imagine you are 15 again and you want to learn how to drive a car. Where would you go to practice? Maybe you'd drive around the block or have your parents take you to an empty parking lot. You probably WOULD NOT GO TO THE AIRPORT! You probably wouldn't immediately drive on the interstate or in a city with a higher population density than New York. You probably wouldn't stay up for 26 hours before taking the car out for a spin either.
Did I mention we neglected to bring directions to the kennel where we were supposed to pick up the dog? All of the above *and* we don't know where we are or where we are trying to go. AND half of the streets lack street signs. Yes, that's right, Ireland's history dates back to 8000 B.C. AND THEY HAVEN'T HAD TIME TO PRINT ROAD SIGNS!!!
Needless to say, it was less than fun.
It took a few days; but we managed to find a place to live....
Compared to US standards (or at least suburban US standards) it's pretty minimalistic. Yes, that is a washing machine in the kitchen. Yes, that thing next to it is the smallest stove I've ever seen. Still, the place is fully furnished and in a great location. And I don't really need all of that extra space. Best of all, is the internet access. This is, by far, the fastest internet access I've ever had; and if I were so inclined, I could up the speed to 100Mb/s for a small increase in price.
I'm sure it violates some law or treaty or something; but I've setup a VPN back in the states so I can still access things like Netflix and use Google to make free calls to the US.
The biggest difference I've noticed between here and the US is the food. It's *similar* but different in weird and unappealing ways (at least, to my American tastes). They have hotdogs here....but they are sold in cans. Weird!. They seem to use a lot less artificial colors as well, so a red Starburst is more like a whiteish pink color. Still, it's mostly the same; and there are a lot of US chains out here too. I'm sure I'll adjust in no time.