The running joke of this trip has been our resemblance to the Griswolds (Chevy Chase and Co in “Christmas Vacation”/“European Vacation” if the name doesn’t instantly register for you). We saw this monument to something in Belfast and both instantly said, “Hey kids, Big Ben,” giggling hilariously to ourselves as our oldest rolled her eyes and explained that the clock was NOT Big Ben; Big Ben is in LONDON. For the record, we’ve only done extra laps on one roundabout so far. And we’re totally charmed by the way locals differentiate between ‘big roundabouts’ and ‘the wee ones.’
We haven’t totally figured out the road marking system or the signs, which include frequent “traffic calming” announcements that perhaps mean “you’re coming to a town, slow down.” Nick also spent a chunk of today’s drive trying to figure out why people sometimes flash their lights at us.
“I think I get it,” he said. “They’re saying thank you for letting them pass.” [So far, Irish “highways” have been two-lane roads with a half shoulder you pull onto, at full speed, to let someone zoom around you.]
“Or they’re saying, ‘Hey, your backpack’s hanging out of the back of your van,’” I said.
Nick channeled the original Vacation movie: “There’s a stump of a dog hanging from a chain off your tailgate.”
Left-side driving is 100% a Griswoldian adventure. Nick has now climbed into the left side of the van several times, each time surprised that the steering wheel is in the other seat. And the extra fun part, the one we both sort of forgot about until I sent us down the third wrong road today, is that I’m somewhat right/left dyslexic. Like we’ll be halfway through a roundabout before I mention that when I said ‘exit left,’ I actually meant right.
Nick has started referring to it as an “Irish left.” As in: “Am I taking a real left or an Irish left?” I keep reminding him that I didn’t ask to be the navigator, and he’s welcome to try his luck with any of the other passengers at any time.
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