Driving, shopping, getting losting

Last week was my first driving trip on my own to Cork. I got lost a lot, mostly listening to my GPS but not being in the right lane or seeing the right sign to correlate to her directions in time. Due to significant shopping needs (having a partially furnished house, e.g., no forks or pots or groceries), I went both Saturday and Sunday last weekend. Then I was up there again on Wednesday for the parade and also grabbed a television from a grumpy salesperson. Then I went up again today to go to an animal rescue event and did a little more shopping, this time in the zippy areas of the Grand Parade, English Market, and pedestrian streets where shops weren’t open on Wednesday.


    I’m not a very good driver, but drivers here are polite, so no one has honked at me. Sometimes this is bad because I don’t know it’s my turn to go.

    I still don’t know if I can turn on red (I’m hoping not, because I need the red lights to think and regroup! But I wouldn’t know anyway since no one honks)

    I find it thrilling to go 100, even if it’s really 60 back in the non-metric world.

    There is no taco sauce in Ireland. Jalapeno-tomato relish is not the same – I tried it on my burrito.

    There are no king size pillowcases here. In fact, king size here is queen size at home, so I’m really looking for super king size. You can find the super king sheets occasionally, but no one sleeps on giant pillows. Also, pillowcases come in styles like Oxford and housewife, but I have no idea what those mean. Since I’ve been learning so much about pillow sizes, more than once I used the known of 45 cm x 75 cm (standard pillow) to approximate other purchases like a 32″ TV and a towel rack — my metric approximations aren’t so good outside a laboratory.

    The shopping carts trolleys are locked to each other in the corral. It takes a one Euro coin to release one, and you get it back when you return the cart to the corral. Anyone remember how much loose shopping carts in parking lots drive me nuts?? Solved. However, on my first shopping trip, I had no idea what value coin to use and had to ask some random guy. I now hoard these coins in fear of not being able to get a cart. Also I kept fearing someone would steal my cart from the store aisles if I didn’t have my hand on it, to get the money, since they totally would in the U.S.

    There are some lovely European laws about not testing household products (like cleaners) on animals. 🙂 This means I can buy generic dish soap washing up liquid and no bunnies were hurt. In the U.S. I usually have to shop at a special store for that.

    Carmel prepared me for roundabouts, but not the four-lane variety with stoplights.

    I now expect to make one or two wrong turns on any trip to a new place. My GPS says “Recalculating” and “Make a U-turn” a lot. Today I never did find the pet supply store or the catalog store and just went home.

    Everyone else’s credit card has a chip in it that lets them wave it past readers at the checkout till and not have to sign anything. I preempt all payments now with “it doesn’t have a chip” and prepare for the cashier to figure out how to swipe the card.

    No pay at the pump, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t work for me due to the above. It took almost €60 to fill the 12-gallon-ish tank of my new diesel Golf, and that’s at about 40 cents a gallon less than gas petrol would have cost.

    On the road, the line in the middle is white but the lines on the edge are yellow. Parking garages are scaled down to match the smaller cars. Like on the country roads, I find myself clenching my teeth and holding my breath/thinking skinny to get past tight spaces.

    On the way to work, there is an intersection with a stop sign but YIELD is painted on the road, and two blocks later there is a yield sign but STOP is painted on the road.

    No one is fat here.

A few pics from today:

“Cream crackers” are popular. I’m not sure where they get the name, but it’s even printed on the cracker itself. They taste a lot like unsalted Saltines.

Roofs of Cork

Back to Quay Co-op for lunch

8 thoughts on “Driving, shopping, getting losting

  1. Ed,

    I laughed until I nearly fell of the chair whilst reading of your adventures in driving.

    I am ever so thankful that you have found the secret to trolly free parking lots, but that trick is here in the U.S. if you shop at Aldi’s.

    Cruelty free washing up liquid sounds like just the thing, wish that were here in a shop that does not require an across town drive.

    As to good hot sauce, give me an address and I will send you some of New Mexico’s finest stuff- something that will put hair on your chest, metaphorically only of course. In addition, I can burn a CD of cars honking and rude people shouting randomly inappropriate curses, most of which are physiologically impossible, which can be played while driving to simulate a more Americanized driving experience.

    I haven’t enjoyed something, vicariously, this much since Michael Phelps won all those gold medals swimming. Back in August, I was rabidly waving my arms and screaming at the TV as if somehow my mania could transmit via the boob tube to him in China and make him into an even more astounding fish/man combo.

    Now, I have managed to get a handle on all the arm waving, but I am still sending focused crazy via the computer screen. Need to get that checked out, pronto.

  2. Debra:
    First of all, I don’t believe you when you say you are not waving your arms around.

    I forgot to mention that the trolley guy HAD TO GIVE ME CHANGE because I didn’t have a Euro coin!

    At Aldi I have never gotten more than I could carry because finding money for the carts was beyond me! Not to mention needing cash for the purchases themselves.

  3. Ed,

    I didn’t say I had given up waving my arms around in general, just while hollering at an electronic screen.

    Ah, I should not have turned my attention to the computer. In the time it took to type that first line Avalyn stole my sunglasses and broke off one of the ear pieces. Grrr. I love being a momma, but toddlers are sneaky little suckers.

  4. Hi Amy,
    Gald to see that you are having a ball of a time. Petrol and trolleys being back sweet memories from back home. Loved the Quay …reminded me of my first few days in the US where Vater was Uwater and Thet was Thaat.

  5. I was thinking the same thing as Debra, about “renting” your cart at Aldi’s.

    England had the same issues with the little zippy cars and the narrower-than-my-pinkie-finger roads. Do you audibly gasp when someone gets tooclose!tooclose!tooclose! in an oncoming car? 🙂

  6. Does your GPS lady have an Irish accent?

    My British ex’s biggest pet peeve about Americans and roundabouts was that they never remembered to signal when exiting. I always try to!

  7. Kris: I have a mini heart attack every time someone comes the other way on any road around here!

    Myms: My GPS lady seems to have a British accent, like my voicemail lady (on three different systems) and my television guide. Note: thanks to your comment, I have been trying to be better about roundabout signaling! The problem has been that I don’t always know what to signal, not that I was too lazy to do it.

  8. No turn on red, no turn on red!!! Though, and this makes me want to kill someone every time I see it, people are quite cavalier about running the red here. Sometimes so blatantly, I also want to scream! Where the heck is a Garda when you need one?!

Leave a Reply