The airport in Liverpool was such a fun experience, as we got to soak up some of the culture of the city while we waited to board our plane to Dublin. One of the things that made this part of the trip so special was the airport attendant who helped us at our departure gate. The airport in Liverpool is quite small, so passengers have to walk out onto the tarmac and board the plane by walking up a flight of stairs to the plane.
Since I was in a wheelchair, Amanda and I were personally escorted out to the plane by a man with a very thick Liverpudlian accent. We both enjoyed listening to this gentleman speak. As he walked us out to the plane, he told us briefly about his work. He then wheeled me to an area where a lift would get me onto the plane. It was fascinating to get this perspective of an airport.
After using the lift to get onto the plane, I was wheeled to my seat and we were off to Ireland, a place that I had wanted to see for many years. When we arrived in Dublin, we were greeted at the gate by two men who would use the lift to get me down out of the airplane. These gentlemen reminded of some characters from a movie called Waking Ned Devine. They both were very kind and seemed the type that would buy everyone a pint of Guinness at the local pub after a hard day’s work. These two men escorted us inside the airport and showed us to customs.
We were greeted warmly by the customs agent and then it was time to find the rental car agency, which was only a short walk from customs. Amanda and I were both quite anxious about driving in a foreign country, especially one where we would be driving on the opposite side of the road. Amanda did a fine job getting us to our hotel, despite that fact that it was dark and the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car. It is quite difficult to retrain your brain to drive a car that is configured so differently, while also driving on the “wrong” side of the road. Fortunately, we made it to our hotel where I think we both were relieved to be out of the car.
The next day we were off to the Guinness brewery. Unfortunately, it was also my turn to drive. On the way to the brewery I had to keep reminding myself to stay on the left side of the road. It was almost like a mantra that was running through my head the entire drive – “stay on the left side of the road, stay on the left side of the road!” I can’t tell you how many curbs I hit, as I was trying to stay as far over in my lane as possible. This is because the streets are only about as wide as our sidewalks here in the United States. It was a good thing that not many people were out walking along the street, or I may be in an Irish jail today.
Thankfully, we reached the brewery before I ran over anyone. However, as I parked I hit yet another curb! It is only by the grace of God that we did not total our rental car on this trip, as we both hit plenty of curbs and nearly sideswiped rock walls along the sidewalks that the Irish call roads.
The highlight of the Guinness tour was the tasting room, which had a 360 degree view of Dublin. It was such a beautiful, sunny day and you could see for miles. From here we were able to spot Trinity College, and many other famous landmarks throughout the city. It was a place where we could have sat and just taken in the view for hours. However, we had plans to drive across the entire width of Ireland so that we could see the Cliffs of Moher.
Amanda started out in the driver’s seat for our three-hour journey across the Irish countryside, however, about an hour into the drive, I was just too anxious as she kept crossing the center lane while on the highway. So, I asked her to pull over while I took another turn behind the wheel. I then proceeded to cross the center line as well for the next hour or so until I just grew tired of driving. Graciously, Amanda agreed to once again do the driving and we continued on our way.
If you want to test the strength of your relationship just go on a drive through a foreign country where the roads are as narrow as a bike path, the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car, you are forced to drive on the “wrong” side of the road, and everything is marked in kilometers. It made me wish I had paid more attention in math class as we worked on converting miles to kilometers.
After stopping in a few small towns along the way, we finally made it to the Cliffs of Moher. When we got out we realized that our walk up the cliffs was going to be a windy one. Also, as the word “cliff” suggests, we were in for some rather steep inclines. Being a person with a rather strong upper body, I thought I’d probably be able to make it up these inclines in my wheelchair. Sadly, this was not the case, as the grades were just too steep and the winds were just too strong. At the point I was ready to admit defeat, a group from North Dakota miraculously showed up to help me up the paths to the top. There were three men in this group that each took turns pushing me up a different section of the path. I believe that God had a hand in providing these men to help me, as he had provided people all along this trip. As you can see from the pictures below, the views from the cliffs were breathtaking.
Ireland is a place that Amanda and I would definitely like to visit again. The people were so friendly, in fact they even had vests with my initials on them as you can see in the picture below. I wish we would have had more time to spend in this strikingly beautiful country. When we do go back I need to get myself one of those vests!