Why fly when you can rail/sail? That’s the logic Matt and I used when deciding how we’d get from London to Dublin. I MUCH prefer trains to airplanes, and the ticket was only 45 Euro! Win/Win.
Our train was scheduled to leave at 9:15, and we got to the train station a little early to make sure we got some breakfast. For some reason, however, almost all the trains were canceled or delayed that morning. AND BOY OH BOY WAS THE STATION FILLED WITH PISSY TRAVELERS. I didn’t mind, but I really had to pee and I had no idea when the train would start boarding. They just kept pushing the departure time back one minute at a time, which was sort of comical, but being in limbo isn’t so fun when you’ve got bodily urgency.
We finally started boarding about a half hour late, which wasn’t so terrible really. We got on the train and found some open seats, but then I remembered that I’d reserved seats when I booked online. The tickets we printed from the kiosk didn’t have seat numbers, but I (of course because I’m type-A) printed the booking information which had our seat numbers. So we started to shuffle back through the train to get to the right car. We come to a door and MATT GETS OFF THE TRAIN. I was a few steps behind him thinking, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING GETTING OFF THE TRAIN? I get to the door to tell him to get back on WHEN THE DOOR CLOSES. I push my hands against the door, futilely trying to stop it from shutting. Matt and I make eye contact through the tiny window and I see panic on his face. I’m sure he saw the same on mine. In my head I’m like, well, BYE I GUESS.
I’m still not sure why the doors closed OR WHY THEY OPENED BACK UP A MINUTE LATER, but Matt promptly got back on the train. And I was like–DON’T EVER GET OFF THE TRAIN. Walk THROUGH the train, but don’t get OFF the train.
After the close call, we found our seats and I immediately headed for the bathroom. The bathroom on the train, like most bathrooms I encountered in London, was almost completely automated. Sensor flush toilet, then automatic soap, water, and hand dryer. But on trains everything is smaller and more compressed, and they had the soap, water, and dryer all lined up under the vanity. When I tried to wash my hands, I got all three flying at me at once. After a few attempts that left me only half-washed, I settled for the hand sanitizer in my purse and headed back to my seat.
I read and nodded on and off during the ride. Our car got progressively emptier as we neared Holyhead. In the last hour, it was just Matt and I and two families: a mom with a very curious and energetic little girl, and a dad trying desperately to stay awake while playing games with his daughter. The energetic girl, who had two long braids and a crooked bow in her hair, starting climbing on the seats and eventually, when the other girl’s dad finally nodded off, decided to make friends. The two girls, neither older than 8, started by talking about all the places they’d traveled. Then things got serious when the girl with braids listed all her brothers and sisters and said that one had died. Very frank, as you’d expect from a child who hadn’t really matured enough to understand death. After a while, they started playing tic/tac/toe but they didn’t have paper or a pen, so they were tracing the board with their fingers on the table and trying to remember where they put their x’s and o’s. It was cute. I sat across from them, half listening, half absorbed in Harry Potter and eating licorice. We three children, enjoying our train ride.
When we arrived in Holyhead, we were funneled into a line for the ferry. We went through a security check, but it was more perfunctory than thorough. There was a metal detector there, but they told me to walk around it. I guess it was just for show. On the other side stood three large men and one adorable spaniel with floppy ears and ginger disposition. I asked if that was their guard dog, hoping to crack a smile out of them. One grinned and said, “Oh yeah, she’s vicious.” The dog glanced up demurely, and we all chuckled.
Then onto a bus which DROVE DIRECTLY ONTO THE FERRY. I thought for a moment the bus might come with us and my dear William might win another argument, but after we were all of the bus, it backed off the ferry.
From the car level, it looked like any other utility ferry you might imagine. I thought perhaps the ride might be a bit cold and sterile. But once we were inside and upstairs, I realized it was more like a small cruise ship than a utility boat. It had a bar and several cafe areas, a large gift shop, plenty of couches and seating a long the large windows, and a cinema. I walked through the gift shop and exchanged most of my remaining pounds for a few fancy chocolate bars and a boat snack. Our launch was so smooth, I didn’t realize we were moving until Matt said something. Anchors away!
(Notice, I saved my blue and white striped shirt for boat day because FASHION and #boatselfie)
Oddly enough, nobody ever checked our train tickets and the ferry tickets were only looked at once–barely a glance really. I concluded that the rail/sail route is likely the preferred means of transportation for vagabonds.
The boat was very boisterous, and Irish-accented. Later, a woman we chatted to said only locals take the ferry. How quaint! I totally get why. It was a great trip. I ate my boat snacks, read my book, sprawled out on a couch and took a nap. DELIGHTFUL. At our final departure point, I saw the little girl with the braids again. She waived goodbye to me, then shyly smiled at her mother to make sure it was alright. CUTE CUTE CUTE.
Matt and I took a bus to the center of Dublin and got off…not quite sure where we were in relation to our air bnb. I noticed a guy who had been on the ferry eyeing us. He looked worse for wear and his eyes were very red as if he were strung out. As Matt and I were consulting our phones, he came over and startec chatting us up. He gave me the CREEP vibe right away, and I looked at Matt like IF YOU TELL THIS MAN WHO WE ARE OR WHERE WE’RE STAYING I WILL CUT YOU. Matt didn’t seem to pick up on my death glare, so I cut in saying, “We’re Canadian and we have plans BYEEEE.” But you know, only one creep in a two week trip really isn’t that bad.
We set off on foot, heading in the likely direction of our air bnb. We weren’t sure which bus line we should get on, so we ended up walking the whole way there. It was over 2 miles, and it felt like a long trek. We were weary and ready to be unburdened by our things. When we arrived at the air bnb, we had no problem getting in. We dropped our things, said hi to the housekeeper, poked around a bit, then headed out to the corner bar we’d passed: Fagan’s. We got a couple beers and moved into the restaurant area. I ordered some kind of pie thing and Matt got roasted turkey. I don’t really remember eating–I just remember the food being there then it being gone. DUBLIN YUM.
From the moment we got on the ferry, I had a firm suspicion that I was going to love Dublin. SPOILER ALERT: I was not wrong. Tomorrow, I’ll continue the tale, and I’ll tell you about Bailey the Dog.