We packed up the car first thing in the morning and got ready to head off to Sligo. We were so lucky because the weather in Ireland is unpredictable at best, and each day for us had been sunnier and warmer than the previous. With the luck of the Irish on our sides, we wanted to make the most of the perfect weather, so we made our first stop in Bundoran to check out all of the surfing and the beach town.
It was officially Orange Day, which meant the town was packed with Northern Irish tourist. The roads in Ireland are small, the parking is even less. So it was no surprise, that on an awesome day (that also happened to be a holiday), the sides of the road and the sidewalks were littered with parked & abandoned cars. As we drove through the town, I made sure to be careful because the space was tight and there were cars and people everywhere…and then it happened.
We heard a thump…
I quickly turned and looked as Jenn yelled out Oh my God, you just knocked off his side view mirror! Figuring that she had seen this I started to panic, and slowed down and tried to find a spot to pull over…unfortunately all the sidewalks were taken. As I looked in my rear view mirror I saw the guy (whose mirror we supposedly knocked off ) getting back into his car nonchalantly and his mirror was still there. He didn’t seem to care one bit, and Jenn checked ours…not a scratch. Score!
Well no harm, no foul. Pleased with our narrow escape, I just told myself we will continue to be careful as we make our way. We got to Jenn’s Aunt & Uncle’s house and Nolin took to the yard chasing their dogs around like crazy. The dogs weren’t really sure what to make of Nolin. While they were finishing up work, we took a trip around Mullagmore Headlands. Again, it was amazing (after this trip I need to find another adjective).
You had the ocean, cliffs, cows & horses along the side of the road, a castle and a nice walk around the entire thing. We had planned on spending an hour exploring and then grabbing lunch instead we spent four hours and had to quickly make our way back to the house.
Being careful because of the amount of people I drove slowly and cautiously. When we got back to the house, we got prepared for a cookout with her Aunt, Uncle, cousin and brother. After dinner, we went back out to Mullaghmore Headlands to watch the sunset and spent some time introducing Nolin to the family horses and donkey. It was getting late so we debated on whether or not to stay or to head back to Donegal. And that is when I noticed it.
A long scratch from the front of the car and ending with a huge dent in the wheel well at the back. The four letter words that came to my mind, are probably not appropriate to repeat. But I kept my cool, and Jenn’s brother and I got some scratch remover to see if we could fix it at all…it was better, but there was no getting rid of the scratch in the back or the dent.
It seems that the nice gentleman who wasn’t upset that I had tapped his side view mirror was in fact just trying to hide because while his car was illegally parked on the sidewalk he opened his door and hit our car as we were driving by.
I called my credit card company because they have insurance on rental cars…except in Ireland. Oh well, at least we didn’t see it right away because that would have ruined our fantastic afternoon. We all agreed that it could have been worse, and decided that I would talk to a mechanic in Donegal the next morning just to get an estimate. That way the rental car company would not try to over charge me…this was going to be a fun one to explain.
It was at this point that I learned an important lesson, and one that I will make sure to pass on to Nolin.
We met with the mechanic who said he couldn’t get the dent out but could fix the scratch. He went and got some touch-up paint with the hopes that if you didn’t see the scratch the dent wouldn’t be as noticeable…newsflash…it was. The paint didn’t match, and now I had an even bigger mess on my hands.
We arrived to return the car. Jenn quickly jumped out grabbed Nolin and walked across the street…awesome, so much for for better or for worse. I decided that I would act like I knew nothing and hope they didn’t notice it. Obviously I didn’t really think this plan through. Eagle eye (aka the girl who was really nervous to rent me the car in the first place) came out and was on her hands and knees inspecting the car. Really?! She couldn’t just take my word that it was fine?
What happened here? she asked.
I walked over to the dented side…What do you mean? I have never seen that, and we didn’t have any accidents…are you sure that wasn’t there when we got the car? I guess this is where I thought she would say oh yeah maybe it was…have a nice day.
We would not have sent the car out like that she explained and went to get the manager, who then went and got a mechanic, and then the owner came out…Really?! Why didn’t I just apologize, beg for forgiveness and take the high road? Instead I had tried to cover it up and now just had to sit there while they asked me why it looked like it had been painted. There is no way to feel cool about that.
I came to find out that our deposit was actually a comprehensive damage insurance, so I really should never have worried about it at all and just been truthful. Instead I walked out feeling like a schmuck and hoping that I would never see any of these people again.
As I was walking out with my head down I noticed Jenn’s uncle, who had been hiding in his truck watching the whole thing…turns out he had a bad run in with the company a few years back and figured it wouldn’t help my situation if he showed up. Honestly, the whole thing was like a painful scene in a movie or TV show. The only thing I could do was laugh as we found Jenn and Nolin along the side of the road wondering why it had taken an hour and a half to return the car.
Today’s Lesson: Nolin (actually I should be telling this to myself and my wife that would never leave my side in during a time of crisis), don’t ever lie, it is just not worth it.
In a few words, that is how our time in Donegal ended. We made our way the next day to Dublin to spend the night with Jenn’s cousin and then fly out the following day. It was a little rainy in Dublin, but we had a lovely time and got to explore St. Patrick’s Cathedral & The Guinness Storehouse among other sites.
We flew out the next morning, and other than our flight taking 18 hours (after a long delay which made us miss our connecting flight and have to catch a later plane) and then finding out that they temporarily misplaced one of our bags, the flight home was easy. Nolin was a trooper and was couldn’t have been better the whole way home.
When we finally arrived home, we were expecting a major disruption in schedule due to jet lag. But thankfully all of us were able to bounce back immediately.
In the end, we had a wonderful time and an amazing experience. I can’t thank everyone along the way who went above and beyond to make sure that we had a remarkable vacation. There were so many stories and adventures throughout our trip to Europe which I am so thankful to have been able to experience with both Jenn, Nolin and all of our friends and family.