Reflecting on 365 days of continuous travel, having visited 17 different countries on 4 different continents, doing most of it while pregnant, and having a baby in a foreign country. Cheers to another year of adventure!Read More
I’ve seen roundabouts in the United States. They aren’t all that common, but you come across them from time to time. Compared to other countries that we’ve been to, the United States is an extreme outlier.
Most countries that we’ve visited so far opt to use these roundabouts instead of using traffic signals. I believe there were zero working traffic signals remaining in Lanzarote in the canary islands. This isn’t because they can’t afford them though… as I previously thought the case might be for Vietnam when someone told me a story about “the only traffic signal in Vietnam” many years ago. Of course they have a few more now, but the truth of the story is that traffic roundabouts are just more preferred in most countries.
You will find them three in a row sometimes. Or even two that are connected to each other - as we saw in some places near Sheffield, England. However, the drivers are quite well used to driving around them. In fact, I would go so far as to say that people driving in the U.K. are experts at them. They know exactly when to move into the inner lane and when to come out. They use the right signals as they pass each exit on the circle. And they exit as if the circle was never there to begin with, with a fluid transition.
Belgium has some very unique roadways. There are laws that you would never imagine in the United States. People can occasionally just fly out from a side street in front of you while you technically have no stop signs because you’re on a main road. But, they have the right of way if you don’t see a small diamond sign. This is called “priority to the right” and it’s worth looking up if you’re planning on driving in Belgium.
Additionally, large concrete pillars are sometimes in the roadway just to block spots you shouldn’t be in - so, don’t drift! When it comes to traffic circles, though, the Belgians don’t use the inner circles. They seem to only drive in the outer circle lane, possibly to make sure they can always exit without worrying about the “priority to the right” situation.
Either way, Americans typically always use the outer lane as well… but that’s probably because many don’t really know how to use the traffic roundabouts very well anyway. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them on the DMV tests that they make us take for our drivers license? It was interesting to see instructions in our rental car in Ireland, though. It was very specific - they not only were playing a video, on repeat, in both the rental car kiosk and on the bus on the way to pick up the car, but there was a paper explaining how to make a left turn, go straight, or right turn from a circle in the glove box.
Anyway, it turns out that in our 6 months outside of the United States, we have seen traffic signals just as rarely as we’ve seen traffic roundabouts in the United States. This means that while traffic signals are most commonly used at intersections in the U.S., traffic circles are most commonly used at intersections in other countries.
How well are you at driving around traffic roundabouts?
Six months of traveling non-stop! The latter half of which we found out we’re expecting a baby, and I’m sorry I didn’t do months 3-5 recaps. Can we agree to blame it on first trimester tiredness and morning sickness?
Here’s our recap of month 6, and a few things we’ve learned this past half a year.
Flights taken: 2 – London to Dublin, Dublin to Brussels
Cars rented: 2 – Dublin and Brussels
Airbnbs: 5 – Dublin, Ballymoney, Kilrush, Killarney, Brugge
Hotels: 1 – Last night in Dublin
Highlights: We visited so many gorgeous places this month! Ireland and Northern Ireland are beautiful. Some of the best sights were seen during our drives around the countries. It’s no wonder that many of the picturesque locations were chosen as filming sites for TV shows and movies.
Brugge is truly a fairytale city. As a UNESCO World Heritage city, it attracts many tourists but still manages to keep its charm.
On a more personal note, we got to feel baby moving around for the first time and get more ultrasound photos! We also found out the gender!
Lowlights: Hot water was limited in some Airbnbs so we both got to experience freezing cold showers on a couple occasions. Brrr!
Month 6 lessons: After driving on the left side of the road for 3 months it was starting to feel normal. When we got to Belgium where they drive on the right side, it was confusing for the first couple of days. It was especially difficult to remember to stay right when making a left turn, and which way to go at the roundabouts.
Ireland is less crowded in September, but also much colder. It was nice to be able to drive the Ring of Kerry and visit popular sites without the traffic and long lines. We were, however, very happy to arrive in Belgium and be greeted by short-sleeves weather.
Half-year thoughts: How has it already been 6 months since leaving Orlando?! While we do miss family and friends back home, we’ve been fortunate to be able to meet up with some during our travels and we are also enjoying exploring and traveling together. Additionally, it’s been really wonderful to make new friends and get to know people from around the world. We continue to meet people who wish they could travel more, travel longer, travel cheaper, etc. but don’t know how. We’re working hard on this website to help the people we’ve met and anyone else that wants to travel. If that’s you, leave a comment below and let us know what’s stopping you from traveling. We’ll do our best to help you out!
Bunratty lies between Shannon Airport and Limerick City. It is famous for its castle and folk park. For a small village, there is a lot to see and you could easily spend your day there. If you’re pressed on time, you can squeeze your visit into a few hours but you might miss out on the laid-back atmosphere of the village.
Just outside of the castle is the Creamery, a restaurant/bar that serves traditional bacon and cabbage. The portion size was quite generous and it was pretty reasonably priced. They also serve an Irish stout, Beamish, from Cork.
Entry into the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is from 9am-5:30pm, however the castle itself closes at 4pm. There are medieval banquets held each night in the castle and they need time to prepare. It took us about 40 minutes to explore the castle, but you may want to plan to give yourself about an hour in case of crowds. Many of the stairways in the castle are very narrow and you’ll have to wait to go up or down between other groups that are exploring. Make sure to go to the top of at least one of the towers as the view is spectacular.
The Folk Park is quite large and has many sections. We spent a couple hours wandering the paths and exploring the historical houses and mini village complete with a schoolhouse and post office. It would have been easy to wander around for an additional couple of hours and even visit the tea house or pub if we had more time.
There is also a delightful fairy village where the young (and young-at-heart) can hunt for hidden fairy dwellings among the trees. Fairy houses with names and descriptions of the fairies that live there can also be found next to the nearby pond.
While the houses and buildings near the castle have been brought in from other areas in Ireland to create the folk park, the Bunratty house and Walled Garden were part of the original surrounding area. Due to its elevation and location on an incline, the Walled Garden has a wonderful view that stretches across the nearby valley.
If you’re near Shannon, we would definitely recommend spending a day in Bunratty! We weren’t really sure what to expect when we went, and we almost skipped it. But we’re so glad we made the stop and explored, and would enjoy going again.
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