IrelandTravel Writings

Driving with Tom

The Irish countryside rips past me as I push The Beast harder. The kilometres per hour are clocking up; 90, 100, 120. I have no clue what this means in miles, but right now, I am King of the Road, I mean, I am F-L-Y-I-N-G, man. The Beast is really moving now; I am at one with my machine. Then there’s the sign – “Improved Road Now Ending.” DAMMIT! I knew it was too good to last.

Now it’s back to the little, bitty, curvy, two-way roads where, each time a truck passes you, you grip the steering wheel for fear that it might be the only thing in this entire world that you have a grip on. Just minutes ago, I was King of the Road – now I’m back to being me, Stuart, a Lonely Planet writer who’s tired from driving all day and just wants to make it to Dingle before nightfall. And The Beast? Well, The Beast is still The Beast; a determined, tiny, silver Hyundai Accent that I rented at the Kerry Airport for an exorbitant amount of euros.

But it’s all worth it. The Kerry countryside is gorgeous out here; there’s no room for complaints. Smoke scrapes the sky as farmers set fire to their fields in an almost yearly ritual of renewal. The greens of the fields, the browns of the mountains, the blues of the ocean; this is the Ring of Kerry, baby. The most common sound heard here must be the smack of someone’s jaw hitting the ground at the sheer beauty of the place. Descriptive words don’t quite do it, but that’s all I’ve got; that and maybe a few pictures. Definitely not enough. The downside to all this beauty is the constant fear that I’m about to die in an inferno of silver car parts, green fields and brown mountains.

Driving these roads is a beautiful yet harrowing adventure, one where I’ve realized that the roadway infrastructure in Ireland was planned out by either a madman or a junkie. I’m driving on pure adrenalin; I feel like I’m constantly on the brink of crashing the car. Combine this with the fact that I’m listening to Tom Waits’ The Heart of Saturday Night and driving on, what is for me, the wrong side of the road, then the sum of all parts equals a truly vivid, unforgettable day.

In the summertime the road around the Ring of Kerry is bottled up like the arteries of doughnut factory worker, but today? Today the road is all mine.

On to Dingle baby, follow the road, here we go.

Stuart’s Euro Saver Secret of the Day: The rental car companies in Ireland are carniverous heathens who hold you by your ankles and shake until the last cent falls out of your pocket. If you must hire a car, approach the situation as one who approaches a battle for one’s life.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".