Maybe it’s the post-pandemic travel period. Perhaps it’s the lack of a working cellphone. But definitely it’s bad luck as Marilynn and I set off on our Ireland adventure on Thursday and Friday.
The plan was to fly into Dublin, take an express bus to Belfast, then a train to Helen’s Bay along the coast, where our great friend Eileen would pick us up in time to hit the bank by 4 p.m. to straighten out our UK account. But nothing went according to plan.
The Delta flight out of Hartsfield Thursday evening was 45 minutes late because of bad weather delaying connections, then the plane sat on the tarmac in Dublin because we were behind another plane that had lost hydraulic steering and needed a tow. What’s the Irish equivalent of Bubba the (airplane) tow truck driver? Padraic?
Looking out the window as the plane approached Dublin, all one could see was snow. As many times and as many different times of year I’ve visited Ireland, I’ve never seen more than a smattering of snow. What should have been a patchwork of green fields, with more green hues than the human mind can contemplate, was, instead, a uniform white, punctuated by stone fences that separated one field from the next.
Every Step Is Another Adventure
In a positive post-COVID sign, passing through immigration and customs was a breeze, taking under five minutes. Collect the bags, hop on the next Aircoach to central Belfast, and let the adventure begin, right? Well, no. Most coaches require advance purchase these days, and the weather delays out of Dublin meant that people who paid for earlier busses were catching later ones.
Note to self: Get a UK SIM card ahead of time. We had a UK phone for years, but with the long delay between trips, I knew the SIM would no longer be valid and the phone likely was outmoded. But it sure would have come in handy to keep our friend Eileen informed about our delays.
We felt fortunate to get a bus to Belfast. Marilynn did some fast talking to the bus driver, and I could see his lips moving as he counted the empty spaces on the bus. So again, we’re good, right?
After arriving in Belfast and a quick pit stop, we purchased our tickets for Helen’s Bay, went to the correct platform and got on the train. We were home free … or so we thought. Come to find out, there were two trains on the same platform, and we got on one headed in the opposite direction.
The train’s wayfinding signs were out of order, so we didn’t discover our error until after several stops. A nice conductor told us to get off at Antrim, cross over the tracks and take the 17:14 train back into Belfast. But that train was delayed by 25 minutes, then 30, then 33, 35, and finally 39 minutes. There was WiFi on the trains, so I could keep Eileen apprised, but there was no WiFi in the Antrim station.
Finally, at 18:56, we alighted at Helen’s Bay where our friend was waiting for us. Twenty hours after our journey started, Marilynn and I were finally back where we belonged.