Archives for posts with tag: driving

Some weeks ago, a work colleague from the US asked me if it was a good idea to hire a car when she would be in Cork.

I had to think about it for a minute, and then I gave my answer:

Hell No.

Cork is a driving disaster zone, not because our drivers are somewhat absent minded, nor because of inclement weather, nor because we drive on the other side of the road to US drivers, nor because we have these teeny narrow streets you have to navigate through. No. It’s a disaster zone because, come rush hour or moderate traffic, you need to have truly psychic powers to navigate yourself around the city.

To drive successfully in Cork traffic you need something akin to the Knowledge, cherished by London cabbies. This is an intimate understanding of the unwritten rules on which lane to move into and when to do it, before executing a manoeuvre. Crucially, the correct positioning might be required in a totally different part of the city.

McCurtain Street for instance. To be in the correct lane when you reach the Leisureplex Coliseum, you need to be deciding lanes way back on Patrick’s Bridge.

Or try Brian Boru Bridge, turning left, straight on or right by the Bus Station. To get it right, you need to have pre-chosen your lane in McCurtain Street. Get it wrong and you’re in a whole lot of trouble.

Following the same road down Clontarf Street to the City Hall, you need to have picked the correct lane by the Bus Station, or woe betide you.

Another beauty is the South Link road heading into town. If you are intending to go to Dublin or Rosslare via the Lower Glanmire Road, you need to have already chosen the correct lane at the Elysian Towers, half a mile away.

Or try the Christy Ring bridge from the Mallow Road – actually, don’t bother. Christy Ring Bridge itself is a traffic nightmare zone at the best of times, no matter what direction you approach it from. I’m sure its traffic light system was part of a psychological torture plot in a former life.

These are just a few examples of a traffic system not just designed by committee, but probably designed by camels. My advice to anyone driving through the city? Lodge a flight plan in advance. And bring emergency supplies. Getting through Cork in rush hour may take some time.


Pescadero, California

I spent most of the day yesterday in transit between Cork and San Francisco. It was a relatively uneventful flight: reading about the Afghan quagmire in Newsweek, watching a pretty good Leo de Caprio movie (Body of Lies), getting some sleep, listening to a pre-recorded Skeptic’s Guide podcast, reading my book on the Permo-Triassic extinction event, and then listening to some Mozart on my iPod. The jouney was comfortable and although I had a small twinge in my back after the jouney, I didn’t feel the 10 hours pass by.

After dropping our bags off in Cupertino, I and some work colleagues decided to drive down the coast road (Highway 1) between Pescadero and Santa Cruz. The weather was foul: cold and rainy, so we confined ourselves to the car apart from one foray down to a beach near Pescadero.

The coast here is very different to home. Gone is the intimacy of the rocky Irish coastline. There is a great sense of scale: the cliffs and beaches stretch into the far distance, conveying the impression that it’s like this all the way down to Patagonia.. The cliffs are soft and chalky, and there is active erosion here. Not great places to be in a large earthquake, I’ll bet.

Total darkness had set in by the time we reached Santa Cruz. The journey back to the hotel was difficult for me with heavy rain, twisty roads, oncoming night-time traffic and the looming burden of sleep deprivation all taking their toll.

A quick bite to eat and I was in bed by 8.30, utterly, utterly exhausted.

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