Sunday, 12 October 2008

Plains, trains, automobiles and boats

On Thursday I used most available means of transport to get our set to Dublin.
It started very early in the morning with a flight from Berlin Schönefeld to London Stansted.
I hadn't been on a Ryanair flight in a while, so the Ryanair song that burst through the speakers after take-off was new to me. At first I got a bit concerned that they might be playing it all through the flight, but luckily they switched it off. It's a very strange song: it sounds vaguely oriental, and as far as I could work out the lyrics don't consist of more than the word Ryanair. Some things hadn't changed, however: I still had no intention of becoming a millionaire with Ryanair, and their trumpets after landing followed by the 'yet another ON TIME flight' didn't impress me in the slightest. After all, isn't it easy to be on time if you tell people the journey will take half an hour longer than it actually takes?

(All opinions about airline companies are my personal opinions - I do not speak on behalf on NIE).

So I got to Stansted, have never been through passport and luggage so fast, and got on a train to Cambridge. I walked to the Junction and went through some logistics with Cat.
Then I loaded the car and drove up to Liverpool. Everything went very smoothly until Emily (the GPS) started acting a bit weird. Initially she said I'd arrive at 6.30pm, then suddenly it would be 3am (which was a problem because the ferry left at 10pm), then it changed to 7.30pm.

After a while of listening to various radio stations, I figured out that the M6 was closed, so I let Emily guide me to alternative routes. Driving through Shropshire was beautiful but slow.

I got to Liverpool at 8pm and checked in.
The customs guys were very friendly and chatty, which was probaby because most of the other people on the ferry were truckers, so they were curious to find out what I was doing there.

This is the ferry dock in Liverpool. Three weeks ago we sat and had lunch at the other side of the water.

Waiting to check in.

The ferry was very cute. It looked like it came straight out of the 70s. It was a lot smaller than the other ferries I've taken in other parts of Europe - only one car deck and only one deck with rooms. I checked into my room and walked past the bar, where a few men were drinking big pitchers of beer. Then I got to the restaurant, and tried to work out what payment they took. I had a bit of UK pounds and a few euros, but not a lot of either and was looking at signs that they took some sort of card. No signs at all. Not even a cashier.
So I went to reception and asked the lady how the restaurant worked.
'You go in, choose food, sit down and eat it.'
'Yes, but what currency do they use?'
'It's free.'

No other ferries I've been in serve free food. Not in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany or Italy. So there. Go from Liverpool to Dublin and you get full board.

And then the fun began. The boat left at 10pm, and around 11.30pm we hit the windy bit. It was gale force 8-9, and it was rough. I didn't feel sick, but the noise of things falling over and the waves hitting the sides of the boat, and me hitting every wall of my cabin, properly stopped me from sleeping.
The bed had drawers underneath which kept slamming open and shut, and so did the bathroom door. So after about an hour of that, I remembered I had a roll of tape in my bag and I taped everything shut.
Another hour later I wanted to go to the toilet and couldn't get the door open. Completely forgot I'd taped it shut. After a lot of clumsiness trying to keep my balance while peeling the tape off, I got in.

By the time everything finally settled down and I fell asleep, there was a knock on the door. We were getting into Dublin.

This is the car on the deck between all the trucks.

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