While my sister floats around Southeast Asia on her mega-moon, off to Drogheda I go, on my mini holiday. One night away, mid-October. My mode of transport is a little different than usual. Bus Éireann should get me there. All my planning and website booking in the days leading up to my public transport adventure are worth nothing to me as it turns out there is no Bus Éireann 14:47 bus to Drogheda and no bus to Drogheda goes from Busáras, despite the company’s website telling you both of those things are true. The response from customer service is a little laugh and ‘sure I don’t do the website’. How the fup do any tourists get around this country. Anyway, from Talbot Street I grab the bus, again, at the completely unpublicised time of 14:39. What the fuck.
You bring so much gear with you for three days! The little Corsa struggles to Stradbally in the delicate sun. That said, we could probably reduce down the load slightly by not bringing a six man tent for two people, complete with large canopy. I really hope the scouts are easy to find because if we can’t get them to put up the tent, I’ll probably just be settling the ground sheet come Monday morning. The Sun teases us, disappearing, only to reappear. Nobody mention the weather, if we talk about it, it will go away for real.
Day 1 – To Bamberg:
Ah, just up at 3am on a Friday morning, the first flight out of Dublin Airport. At this point it would feel weird to have a flight after 9am. Lufthansa is a slightly different experience to Ryanair. Efficient check in, boarding and all that jazz but you get a free croissant and coffee. Wine and all if you’re into that at 6am of a Friday. I encounter an Asian lady looking perplexed at me entering the gent’s toilets in Frankfurt Flughafen, she must have miss-interpreted the trouser sporting stick-man for an invitation to anyone wearing pants.
Day 1 – To Oslo:
So basically, everyone I’ve mentioned our destination to has either responded with, ‘oh, why Norway?’ or ‘you know it’s outrageously expensive!’ I’ve been told to expect to pay about, ‘€500 for a burger’, which seems like it may be a slight exaggeration. Anyway, it’s been a dream to see Norway for some time, going with Orla only sweetens the deal. To Norway!
Dublin Airport seems to be incredibly busy in the early morning. Security is amazingly quick though, especially when you don’t wear a belt, nor boots and only pack your aftershave into the seemingly pointless little plastic bags. Of course, it has a downside, it’s difficult to stumble through the metal detector with your jeans around your ankles.
Under four hours of sleep in preparation for this trip, I end up anxious and tired on approach. The early flights seem like such a good idea, two months before the fact. But, no regrets and only minor complaints. A quick coffee with a free chocolate in an attempt to kick start myself into some resemblance of action. Wandering casually down to gate 302, it’s the first time my name has been called out over the P.A. “Just waiting on you lads now!” Even with the airline having to wait a few minutes for us and a little fog slowing us down, we’re in the air before 8am.
Day 1 & 2, to Hong Kong:
This trip snuck up on me both in terms of how it came about and how quick the time seemed to disappear between booking flights and leaving for the flight out. The latter being delayed out of Dublin by a solid 40 minutes. This pushed us closer to our connecting flight to Hong Kong. Mysteriously the pilot comes on the PA system during our crossing and tells us we’ll be landing in 10 minutes….5 minutes before we were originally due to land….what? So, I can only assume there’s now a singularity somewhere between Dublin and London over the Irish Sea. You have been warned.
Very early start, up at 5 a.m. and shaky. On the up-side, I’ll be in Berlin before lunch. It’s probably the busiest I’ve ever seen T2, how can this many people be up this early? The queue for security moves pretty quickly though.
I hand a beautiful girl a crate for her belongings. She smiles at me and says ‘thanks’ in a wonderful accent. I rue not having the confidence to get to know her. I have decided to try and grab opportunity as it arises. That was one I did not.
Leaving Dublin at 7 p.m. with a four hour journey ahead of us. I didn’t envy Bren driving having done the last stint. There’s nothing to make the time pass quicker on the first leg, plain motorway and the stretch with the stunning landscape will be obscured by darkness by the time we get there. The darkness that surrounds the road into Leenaun is something else. You feel like you’re driving in the fjord, it seems at times like the water comes right up to the tyres of the car on one side and that you are millimetres from the hills on the other. Not an easy ride at the best of times, and certainly not on a dark, damp early May night. Continue reading
Day 1 & 2, Salzburg:
I land in W.A. Mozart around 6 p.m. No problem with my bag and I walk straight out the arrivals door and into a taxi. No fucking around with buses or trains, there will be plenty of that non-sense over the next week or so. My taxi driver is a very welcoming lady who speaks flawless English. She chats about Salzburg city, the population and recommends a couple of things to do which, to my shame, I forget about as soon as I close the door of the taxi. I do, however, remember her words of Hohensalzburg Castle, lovingly conveyed. It is the “symbol of the city”, I’m told. She is native to Salzburg and I get the impression that the castle means more than bricks and mortar to the locals, which isn’t difficult to understand when you glance it for the first time. I’m informed of how to get to the old town and how far it is from my hotel. All useful information. Continue reading