The Journal of a Journey,
UK and Ireland 1999
Day 6Tuesday, October 5 - Chester to Dublin
Another B&B breakfast got us started, and we returned to the wall and cathedral to take daytime video before catching our train to Holyhead, in North Wales, for the ferry crossing to Ireland. We had excellent views on the uncrowded train of numerous seaside towns and castles. We also saw a feature new to the area since my first visit over five years ago, a large number of mobile home parks, mostly probably serving as seaside getaways or maybe even timeshares for their owners.
One of the longest layovers of our entire trip was the wait for the ferry departure at Holyhead. The waiting lounge was spacious and comfortable and also apparently new since my 1994 trip, with shopping and dining facilities available.
The most pleasant innovation since my previous visit, however, was that the ferry is now a catamaran that makes the crossing, which took us three-and-a-half hours in 1994 in only 99 minutes now. It was gorgeous, if a bit gaudy in a Las Vegas sort of way. Gone were the live singing and dancing entertainment of my first crossing, but a fancy and good carvery buffet took their place nicely. We decided to go for it at £11.95 and found the roasts, salads, and all trimmings sumptuous indeed. It took up most of the time of the crossing. One negative was that there's no way to get outside on the catamaran.
Although we enjoyed the buffet very much, we were a bit regretful later on in Dublin that we were too full to have dinner, depriving ourselves of our usual main evening activity.
We saw on the ferry news coverage of a terrible train wreck near Paddington Station in London, on a line we had been on on our trip to Oxford and from Stratford Upon Avon four days before. It still wasn't known how many were killed, but over 100 were hospitalized and in the end there were 40 fatalities.
The ferry now docks in Dun Laohaire, a few miles south of the central Dublin dock at the mouth of the River Liffey that my first tourgroup to Ireland docked at in 1994. I didn't realize the change in location until the DART (Dublin-area Rapid Transit) train we took from the dock to the northside Connolly Station had traveled quite a bit farther that I expected. We found a Tourist Bureau desk on our way out of the Ferry Terminal and, taking a cue from Let's Go, asked if they could book us a twin with en suite bath at the MEC Hostel, which they did at IR£17 each. The very helpful lady at the bureau also told us which DART train to take and assured us the fare was covered by our Britrail passes.
The young lass at the DART ticket window, however, disagreed and required us to buy tickets, which were only a pound or two each, but it's the principle. Another Irish rail official confirmed the next day that the passes are good on DART.
The hostel had a good bathroom and no in-room TV, and charged extra for a towel for the shower and wouldn't rent me a second pillow at any price, so I slept not at all on the one flimsy pillow provided with the room. In retrospect, we should have held out for a B&B, even if it had been £10 more.
After freshening up we went out after dark to find an Internet cafe, walking on O'Connell Street, Dublin's main boulevard, in the direction of one I'd seen advertised. We found another one on the way, which charged £1 per 15 minutes, and I was able to check my email wia Hotmail and send a message to the Nanty Glo Forum for less than three pounds. Tom was also able to send an email to his granddaughter and I sent one to my son Kevin, assuring them we had been far away from London when the horrific train wreck occurred that morning.
Next station: Cashel
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