During the planning/booking stages, I knew December 27 was going to be a long travel day; Heck, I even gave everyone a heads up. What I failed to anticipate was how tiring it would be. Sure I’ve done long journeys before, but most of them were overnights and on trains, which required nothing physical from me. All I had to do was to get on the train and entertain myself when things got boring (books and Sudoku puzzles are my saving grace here). That definitely wasn’t the case with December 27.
Look, I’m an advocate for budget travel – why pay more when you can have it for much less with a little extra time and effort? This philosophy of mine came crumbling down when we had to make our way from Ballybofey to London with every single means of transportation available in that part of Europe. I’m already exhausted just from thinking back to it!
See for yourself:
5.05 AM – Woke up to get ready and do some unfinished packing from the previous night.
6.20 AM – Left the house and began the 20-min walk to the bus stop on the main street of Ballybofey
7.14 AM – Our bus came, turned around, and left. Without us. Um? What the hell? Panic started to settle.
7.30 AM – Another bus came, bound for Derry, a different city than where we originally intended to go to. After consulting with the super nice bus driver, we decided to wait for the 8.00 AM bus to Letterkenny.
8.00 AM – The bus came, picked us up and we were on our way to Letterkenny.
8.20 AM – We arrived at Letterkenny. The bus for Dublin wasn’t departing until 9.20 AM. Another hour of waiting around, but hey, at least this station is alive with other people waiting for the same bus.
9.20 AM – We got on the bus and began the 4-hour ride through the Irish country side where winding roads and hills are of the norm. The rugged beauty I witnessed really makes up for the ridiculously nauseating ride (dark chocolate also helps!). Of course the sun decided to shine as bright as it possibly could on the day we are stuck in a moving vehicle.
1.20 PM – Got off at Dublin Busaras (i.e. bus depot). The fresh air felt amazing! We found out the shuttle bus for the ferry left 15 minutes ago, so we’d have to take a cab to the port.
1.25 PM – Found a cab and 12.70€ later, we arrived at Dublin Port Terminal.
2.45 PM – Started boarding the Jonathan Swift Ferry bound for Hollyhead, UK. It seems luxurious, complete with a cafe, gift shop, and a movie theater playing Brave for the kids.
3.00 PM – Nausea kicked in – terrible! I swear, I’m usually okay with any kind of transportation. Bah. So, I just closed my eyes and slept most of the way to Hollyhead.
5.00 PM – Disembarked at Hollyhead, grabbed our luggage, and ran for platform 2 to catch our train to Chester. It turned out the ferry terminal is directly connected with the train station, so it took us all of 2 minutes to get there.
5.30 PM – Train arrived, we got on, and away we go towards London.
That’s it? No, no, HOLY CRAP, that’s not it!
7.25 PM – We arrived at Chester. I had spent the past 2 hours of my life staring at 2 dogs and 2 guys drinking can after can of beers. Dudes, they were standing right in front of me and I didn’t have any other form of entertainment! I was hoping to get a cup of latte from Costa, but it promptly closed at 7.30. RATS!
7.45 PM – Boarded the train to Crewe. Nothing special.
8.18 PM – Arrived at Crewe. The guys made a beeline for baguette sandwiches at the Upper Crust. I don’t blame them – I was starving too at this point. I looked at the baguettes on display and none of them appealed to me, so I went to Pumpkin (yes, that’s the name of the coffee shop) and bought myself a cup of hot chocolate.
8.30 PM – Found out our train is delayed and we are no longer leaving at 8.42 PM.
9.16 PM – Boarded the train to London Euston. I sat across the aisle from a family with a very loud and obnoxious little girl who wouldn’t shut up for the entire 2 hours ride. That plus the fact that every other word that comes out from her dad’s mouth is the F-word made a very pleasant ride! JUST. MY. LUCK.
11.45 PM – FINALLY arrived at London Euston.
You’d think that’s it, right? Yea… No…
11.45 PM – We got off the train at London Euston, walked to the Underground, got our Oyster cards (This is basically a must when you go to London!), and made our way to Leytonstone in Zone 4.
12.35 AM – Got off at Leytonstone. I saw a fast-food joint across the street from the Underground station and made a beeline for it. I could have eaten anything at this point, but I was being modest, and I ordered chicken burger and fries for 2.50£. Then we walked next door to the cab company, ordered a cab, and sat down to wait for it.
1.00 AM – At last – we arrived at our apartment. Our host was very gracious and very understanding. She got us croissants, which we devoured for breakfast the next morning.
In summary: 2 buses, a cab ride, a ferry, 3 trains, 2 tubes, another cab ride, and 20 hours later, we finally made it to London. As much as it pains me to say it, sometimes it’s worth it to spend the extra money on flights and be done with it.