Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Rubbing that Aladdin lamp .... et voila .... Sligeach

It's very early morning in small-town Germany
 This is my second smoke break, but on my first one an hour ago, I noticed that even here in the German boonies, public transit buses already run at 4:30 am.     
Breakfast in the hotel commences at 7 am.  I've been up since 4 am and one of the things I have been doing is triage my luggage. 

Aer Lingus is one of those airlines that loves charging people for luggage.  All that is free is ONE piece of carry-on luggage below 10 kg.  I'm only up there for 3 nights, so I meticulously sort into my backpack what I really need and I'll leave the big bag here in the hotel.  With online check-in and the boarding pass printed in my hotel, I'll be able to walk right to the gate at the airport.  Cool !
It's spring, but everything is barren  !

I left the light on in my corner turret room !

Nice old train station

still early
Breakfast is open 20 minutes before the advertised time. What a nice change compared to Boppard in 2013 when the lady was giving me an evil look through the locked glass-door even 1 minute before the appointed breakfast time and would not open for another minute ;-)
An early breakfast start is also convenient because I want to catch a reasonably early train.  I am delighted to see olives on offer with breakfast.  Mediterranean flavours in the gloomy centre of a definitely not Mediterranean country !
Nice hotel room.The left window is the turret

Like all Great Escapes, this one is not trivial but requires a careful mix of ingredients:

It starts with a train. Or rather it starts with NO train !

This is the same train that I took to Holland and then Antwerp once ! But this time it is 17 minutes late.

The driver makes up 5 of those minutes again by the time we reach Dusseldorf Central, but I still have to run to catch the connecting train that takes me to the airport.

At the Airport Train Station leaves a properly named SkyTrain (NO, nothing like the one in Vancouver). This one actually is supported above, i.e. it is a hanging train floating high above ground.

SkyTrain (Duesseldorf version)
The hotel-printed boarding pass gets me through security !
The have a smoking lounge, LOL.
DUS smoking lounge.
Never mind the unhappy faces. This is Germany, LOL
They also have a duty-free store, but since I'm staying within the EU, I'm not allowed to buy more cigarettes. But then I already left a whole carton in the hotel. I get a text from Seamus in Dublin, inquiring about my approximate arrival time in Sligo because he wants to pick me up.  Yohoooo.  Like any half-decent gay man, I LOVE red carpets.  It's the princess hidden in us, LOL.  That's what you loose if you want to appear macho.  You gotta muzzle your inner princess ;-)

It's a day of malfunctions (So it's NOT ONLY Canada, LOL). One of the two boarding pass scanners at the gate does not work. 

By the time I have arrived at my gate, it is pouring outside.

The Aer Lingus flight is half empty and there is only me on my 3-seat row, so I stretch out and sleep away over 45 minutes of the less than 2 hour flight.
Yes, what I see out the window is IRELAND 

In Dublin I am taken by surprise:  Ireland is part of the EU and there should not really be any passport controls.  But there is one.  ONE entire booth of a total of 10 is manned by 2 customs officers.  

Hang ON!  Am I entirely sure that I didn't land in Vancouver by accident? Nope, the Irish borders are poorly managed as well.
Where am I ?  A sign entirely in Irish
 The last time I was here, I took an airport bus into town, consequently missed my train at Conolly Station, and then had to wait 2 hours for the next one. 
A queue at the taxi stand
 There is not really that much to see in central Dublin and it's friggin cold outside, so I'm taking a taxi to Conolly this time. 
He is NOT sitting on the WRONG side but on the RIGHT side

If I catch the 1 pm train to Sligo I will get to Sligo 2 hours early, so 22 Euros is a good price to make sure to spend 2 more hours with a friend I haven't seen in years. 

Connolly Station
But there is a snag. Isn't there always?
Free WiFi en route ;-)
I'm sitting in the cross-Ireland train to Sligo already at 12:50 pm.  A return ticket for the 3 hour journey cost me 53 Euros.    

The snag?  I'm supposed to text my arrival time to Seamus so he can pick me up.

Ireland starts passing by my window as the train crosses Ireland from the East coast to the West coast.
But texting ain't so easy when your cell phone does NOT ROAM !!!!
For F@#^%'s sake. I'm getting SO SICK of mediocre Canadian products and services.
My Canadian cell phone roams in Germany and Vietnam.  It roams in Belgium and Hong Kong. In France and China.  But it doesn't friggin roam in Ireland.  The only other country where it didn't roam was Cambodia !
Add to that that I already got a text from my provider informing me that it won't roam in Germany as of May 1st.  Not only are Canadian cell phone prices & rates among the highest in the world. They provide LOUSY service.   Go Canada Go ! (Yes, that last bit was sarcasm).
FORTUNATELY, the Irish train provides FREE WiFi all along the route, so at least I'm able to provide my arrival time through the Aether in an alternate way.
Yes, that is FRESH SNOW on that mountain !
Seamus had already warned me about the weather and during a smoke-break outside at Boyle Station, I actually get HAILED on. BRRRRRR!

Et Voila, result of all that transportation mayhem: Sligeach 

(in the English-speaking world known as Sligo ;-)

Seamus fortunately went to find some WiFi to read his e-mail, picks me up at the train station and drives me the few kilometers to Strandhill.  A quick room check and after visiting Jemma & the most adorable & 14-month old Kealy the Red, we head to a French restaurant.

Yes, it's a tad on the extravagantly good and expensive side.
But how many truly good friends does a person have?  And NO, I don't mean the Facebook variety, LOL.
Yes, there are two corks sitting on the table
Jet-lag, travelling all day, and drinking a bottle of Burgundy finally take their toll.  I fall into a taxi and the cab driver has to wake me when we have reached Strandhill.  

What a day though .....  let's see how long I can keep that going ....

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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