Dream trip Day 140 DC to New Orleans by train, last stop

I’d woke up to hard rain again, but for the final time on this trip. No chance to get out and explore DC further.

Adding to my day’s frustrations was it had been my final paid night in the hostel. Jeff was out-of-town for the weekend.

I had a vague idea of just heading south, staying in a major city each night. Like Atlanta, Birmingham, whatever was on the way.

Reality slapped me, I was no longer in Europe. 3 hours did not get me into a new country. Hell most of the time, 3 hours was the halfway point from city to city in the US.

No place to stay within a 2 hour radius, well not hostels anyway. I was out of options that didn’t include an expensive hotel.

I did find a 26 hour train to New Orleans.

I had the notion of buying a hop on hop off train pass. You know, train it to a city, get out, stay a night, hop on a train the next day or evening.

That was a staggering price for a ticket, as was snagging a bed on the train, a roomette. $400+ for both options vs a ticket just over 100$.

I had a moment, sucked it up and got a train ticket. It was well less than half the cost of airfare. Plus this trip was to see the countries as they really are after all and I was going to see quite a bit of America.

I fortified myself with coffee and beer before walking to the depot. It was an early evening departure, 5.

Once at the train station I figured I should check off Shake Shack on my best burger list. I do enjoy a tasty burger and these guys were highly ranked and not an option in Texas.

Good juicy burger, should hold me through the night. I wasn’t anticipating much sleep.

I walked and lapped the depot several times. I’ll always remember this LA candy store, where they were selling sugar, candies but for models. Why?

I suppose around the 2nd lap the thought occurred to me to buy some fruit and maybe a pastry roll for the trip. Wrapped them up in some napkins, I had a snack and small meal.

You just never know about train food options. The pickings were pretty bad on the St Louis to KC line, all pre-packaged options.

I still don’t get why they make those plain, disgusting plastic container sandwiches which pervade gas stations, trains and bus stop in the US.

Not that I didn’t see similar packaged sandwich options in Europe, I just don’t get how hard it is to have a few handmade options at a place. Have someone make them in the morning and again mid afternoon.

At last the call was made and we passed through the 1st ticket check. Before you got into the car, another conductor took you to your seat after checking your ticket.

I was lucky that my seat was on the 2 seat row of the train. I had a neighbor already.

He was a nice enough guy, heavy accent.  Sounded like a rural Carolina drawl. It was during the 1st 2 hours of my train ride I learned this guy’s story.

He’d been in jail for a while, was returning from visiting his ill mom in NY and was well into a bottle of Jack.

This was not his 1st long train ride, he had small bottles of cola he had pre-mixed.

I’m not sure why I say bottle, they were plastic. Is there another name for a plastic vessel other than bottle? I just feel bottle means glass is all.

He went through 2 of those loaded colas on our journey and they looked tea colored, heavy on whiskey.

Every time a conductor passed he asked the same question, ‘smoke break boss?’ then cackle like it was the funniest thing he’d ever said.

The train stopped a lot in small towns, those weren’t smoke stops. Big cities we stopped 20 minutes so he had enough time to smoke.

We also stopped a few times in the middle of nowhere to let a freight train fly by too. That is truly infuriating.

In the US freight is given priority over commuter trains on rails.  Humans, who can sense the passage of time, have to wait for stuff, for things to pass.

What I am saying is whatever you are shipping is not more valuable than another person’s time. You can wait for that cheap razor of the month.

Thankfully he was getting off in S Carolina, his bitch had best come to pick him up soon too per his flip phone conversation I overheard.

I waved at him as he left the car, it was about 9pm. I had just enough room to lay down on the 2 seats, provided I didn’t have legs.

All the ladies around me reclined their seats as far back as they could go, they all had neighbors.

You know planes, train, options society pays to travel, could be and used to be a lot better.

I sure wish any transportation executive and family has to take the cheapest option on a long journey at least once a year. If nothing, they’d experience it.

Take a look at any pics of plane or train travel from the 60’s or 70’s. Everyone has leg room, smiling, smoking, etc. The food looked edible even!

Instead seat and room are minimized and prices go up! Thing is we think competition levels the playing field but really if every option does the same thing, is that competition?

I took advantage of wi-fi, so at least that worked, that was a good thing.  I watched several movies, eventually falling asleep around 3am but since I’m next to a window, as soon as the sun is up so is everyone else.

Pro tip, keep in your bag earplugs and eye shade. You never know the situations you may find yourself, someone snoring in your room. Maybe you find yourself at a rock show or perhaps you have to sleep in a room with no window shades.

I am pretty much a night person, which isn’t helping, so everyone around me is clearly morning people, all excited about breakfast, coffee and life.

It added an extra punch to the long train ride. Just knock the chipperness down a couple of notches, ya know?

One lady’s godson had just died, another was convinced his boss was after him, and another lady just kept on saying ‘uh hu or uh nuh,’  whichever was the most appropriate aside based on the conversation.

What can I say, it was a busy morning on the train. I can say I did feel a certain kinship with everyone. We were all, some literally grinning and bearing, on our hours long journey.

Without question, the people in coach smile a whole lot more than those in 1st class.

I took an occasion to procure a cup of coffee, incredibly cheap coffee beans as well as incredibly hot coffee to go with the pastries I’d picked up in DC.

The landscape wasn’t as green as I’d seen previously. The smaller towns here weren’t nearly as quaint and beautiful as some I’d seen.

In Europe the towns were pretty similar to the bigger cities just smaller. In the US, the towns just look poor, run down, like everyone moved away.

The scenery and car population changed even more once we passed Atlanta. It was like out of a dystopian film.

I started looking for Mad Max style cars or at least some Deliverance style bow hunters to reveal themselves between the trees.

Somewhere in Alabama sleep overtook me, I completely passed out for over an hour.

A much-needed nap. I had been watching videos most of the time. DRAM and Lil Yachty mostly. DRAM is so great.

Soon we were in the bleakest place I’d encountered thus far, Mississippi.

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Dotting the countryside in Miss were shacks, not houses. Some even just constructed using a group of trees as a frame, with pallets and other pieces of wood or metal as a roof or wall.

The US is rich but you wouldn’t know that looking at the rural places. Europe looked like paradise by comparison.

No occupied shacks that I saw overseas. Sure there were many abandoned structures but they didn’t look lived in like the dilapidated shacks in the US.

Where’s the money going? Some politician or their friends’ pocket most likely. Or building a new plane.

All countries are corrupt its just the level of corruption was the difference. It was like ok, we get it, you will steal, just drive a Mercedes vs McLaren.

Don’t be blatant with your graft, you dig?

I wrote 5 of these posts on the Atlanta to Mississippi leg of my journey, in my seats, alternating based on the position of the sun.

Pro tip, buy prescription sunglasses. Big difference walking around on a sunny day and being able to see writing on signs.

Before too long we were in Slidell, next stop New Orleans.

I confess, a tear dropped from my eye as we crossed Lake Pontchartrain. The sun was setting and I couldn’t believe I was here.

“Welcome to New Orleans, whoot whoot!” came the call from the conductor. Everyone out, final stop.

I called a car and I was swooped to my friend’s house. You forget just how pretty the houses are until you return to the city.

My friend and I sat on his back porch, beers in our hand. I took a long pull and gazed at the stars above.

Beer  NOLA Blonde

Song    the Meters    Talkin’ ‘Bout New Orleans

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Dream trip Day 127 Farewell Cardiff, train to Oxford, the Eagle and Child pub

At this point, months into my trip I was bewildered most of the time. It was just unreal everything I was seeing and experiencing. I felt overwhelmed and still not sure what to do or where to go.

The only thing I knew was winter is coming and I did not pack for that. I had a hoodie that worked well so far but it was soon to become real cold. Freezing.

Had I been really adventurous I would have flown to Morocco. I investigated going when I had a week off in Barcelona.

I was chasing the sun at this point, trying to stay warm if I could.

The weather wasn’t too much better where I was heading next, Oxford.

The college was certainly a draw, the writers who taught and lived there: CS Lewis, JRRRR Tolkien, radiohead… Yeah I pretty much went to see what the area that radiohead lived looked like.

I’d been listening to radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool literally the entire summer. It is a great record but can be a bit depressing. It’s a good listen on an overcast or rainy day. As is Kid A, that is my go to rainy day record.

I didn’t have time for coffee and a meal before I left so I had some of the instant coffee with sugar at the hostel before I left.

At some point the night before I decided I needed to have fish n chips here, to complete my UK fish and chips experience. I’d had the meal in England, Scotland, Ireland (N and S) and now Wales.

The fry guy just smiled when I ordered and said it would be a few, had to fry it fresh to make it best!

A stupendous amount of chips with a slab of fish soon arrived. Enough for 2 easily.

I had time but still felt rushed. I mean, the train station was only across the street so I am not sure why I was concerned.

I left my still near full box near one of the many stoops with homeless.

The railway was small and everything was in English so finding my track was a breeze, especially compared to Budapest.

I did however miss my connection in Redding. I took my time putting on my hoodie then everyone was getting on so I couldn’t push past them.

I got to the door just as it closed and locked. Trapped!

What made this rather interesting was the previous hour or so were non stop. I hoped for the next stop to be soon.

It was so I jumped on a train heading in the direction of Oxford. Luckily the trains were timed well so I had plenty of time to get on the right track.

I sat with a couple chaps at a table. They both worked for a transportation company, or maybe logistics. They were going on a work trip for more training.

The impression I got was they went to school for a specific degree related to this job.

They worked while in uni as interns or journeymen, then received a 1 year commitment at this company. The company seemed well structured and promotions were clear and easy to work towards.

To my right the green pastures rolled past, a green blur.

The great thing about this train was I didn’t have to transfer, it went to Oxford where I stood near the door, ain’t missing this stop!

After a brief walk I was near University of Oxford, a storied place whose history goes back to 1096 but it is likely older, just haven’t found a document yet.

Oxford just feels like a village, full of life as well as proper people.

My hostel was a few blocks from the uni, I found it pretty easy.

It was small and cavernous hostel, winding around a few floors. I got lost a couple of times looking for restroom and shower, located in different parts of the house.

The weather was ok so I sat outside on the patio and tried to join in on a conversation with some employees and a couple of pretty gals from New Zealand.

They were stuck at the hostel waiting as they had checked out but their flight was late at night so they let them hang out in the smokers lounge.

After trying to jump in and join the conversation a few times, I had to give up.

I was hungry so I figured I’d find something a long the way. Literally the 1st restaurant I saw was Nando’s, which I passed up, felt like something different.

Jamaican! Now that is something I don’t get everyday.  I do enjoy a beef pie, jerk chicken, rice, all the stuff.

I belly up to the bar and order a Jamaican pale ale a local brewery made for them. Better than Red Stripe!

I got a couple of pies and side of rice. It was rather expensive for a whole meal, plus very large portion sizes. When I encounter this I just order a couple of appetizers and maybe a salad or side.

A few blocks away was the Eagle and Child pub. It was across the street from the literature department so that explains why lots of writers went there.

It was very small, a bit of standing room in the front before it opens up to a nice room with tables in the back.

Cash only too I recall, no cards here. This is also a real beer destination with 4 hand cranked taps of beer.

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In the corner was where the writers met for pints after teaching class. I sat for a good while just wondering what all they talked about…

‘Clive, what are you writing about now?’

‘Well John, it’s about a magical land some children stumble upon, witches and a lion I’m thinking of naming Aslan. How about you?’

‘Oh well I’m still writing about orcs, hobbits, faeries. I think I have cracked writing a new language for the elves as well.’

To my surprise they had last call just after 10pm. I wanted another pint, just not going to get one here.

Probably for the best, it had been a long travel day, I needed to rest up for tomorrow!

Beer Oxford Gold

Song  radiohead   Darkest Hour

Dream trip Day 120 Last day in Limerick, Dublin, and Ireland

Sad day for many reason as it was a day of lasts.

Last day in Limerick.

Last day in Dublin.

Last day in Ireland.

Last pint of Guinness in country.

Last day with my mom. That was going to be the toughest one for sure.

It was very cool to get along so well with a travel companion, especially family. We could talk away the time or just sit in silence when needed.

Of course, Ireland gives you many things to see and talk about, it is a great country!

We enjoyed our final buffet whilst flipping through the local and national papers. I only get to read newspapers when I’m at a hotel or at my parent’s house.

I wrote for my high school paper and I really should subscribe to a couple US newspapers to support them. The world needs honest and unbiased journalist, sadly both are dying breed as of late.

Everything is for sale, even the truth so watch out, be careful what you read, believe.

We packed up, turned in our keys and hit the streets.

Why do I say keys when modern hotels use cards that don’t work the 1st 3-4x so you have to go back to the front desk where they laugh while taking your card and only then remember to activate it. Haha very funny…

One more pass across the River Shannon and its calming waters.

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We boarded the train and took our seats. Fairly full section, too, soon I was joined by an older lady just before  we took off.

Older as in grey haired, cane aided, dressed up specifically because she was riding the train, that type of old lady.

She immediately noticed that I was a tourist and asked where I was from.

For about an hour, un-prompted she told me about the history of the area.

“You see all this wonderful, green land? 2 Englishmen have owned it since before my grandparents were here. We Irish are from here, we farm here, we live on land owned by someone else. Those 2 have the largest estates in the area. They meet up and decide how much money they’ll make the next year off our labours. Bah!” she said as she waved off to the window.

Yup, Irish hate the English, confirmed again!

She soon departed with a wave and, ” ‘ave a good day, lad.”

A short time later we pulled into Dublin.

Having a bit of time before we could check in, my mom felt it best to try a run at the airport, to see how long it would take from our hotel.

I’d done this a couple of times and figured that since we were staying at a major chain hotel they would have a free airport shuttle.

We located the airport bus and soon began the frustrating process of locating the specific pick up point for the shuttle.

You see, many hotels offered pickups and each one had carved out their place. Sometimes this place is marked clearly, most of the time it isn’t marked at all.

Adding to this madness is the fact that the shuttles don’t seem to have any set schedule, they just cruise by if they drop off someone.

We called the hotel to let them know, remind them, we were waiting for them. Us and about 10 other people, we told them.

It took over an hour before I grew really concerned they forgot about us, especially considering we were near other hotel chain pick up spots and they seemed to come regularly. Or more than once.

A couple of taxis arrived. One rolled down his window and asked if we were going to XXX hotel.

“Lad, get in the car, take the sure thing!” cried the driver. “Now!” he screamed.

We got in and I sighed. Waiting on a ride that is late is the worst thing. I felt the others pain as we sped along the highway.

The driver turned out to be friendly and even empathized with us. “Shuttle crapped out, so they had to call a couple of us cabs to get everyone. We have cars swinging by to get everybody, don’t ye worry!”

We checked in and headed to our room. I laid down on the bed, tired.

My mom had an early flight and needed to print out her boarding pass plus arrange for the shuttle to pick her up, very early.

We got to a computer and I waited for my mom to find her pass via email. She tentatively approached the keyboard.

“I don’t know how to use this. It isn’t how I usually get to my email at home. I have an icon I click that takes me there. I don’t know what to do…”

Man it sucks when you hit that age when you know something your parents don’t. The student becomes the teacher.

Luckily my mom could access the info via her phone so I told her to forward the booking email to the hotel to print at the front desk.

You see, a solution that didn’t involve raising my voice or belittling her due to her lack of knowledge. I just had to know what all we had and what we needed and the solution presented itself.

I knew I had to do laundry so I asked the front desk lady where the laundry room was and was surprised that they didn’t have one on site.

She directed me to a shopping mall area a few blocks away. Nearby that place was some eating options so I presented these to my mom.

We found the mall area and I realized I was going to need coins. To get change, we got a couple of drinks at a fast food place.

It was a bad joke, “You need coins for the washing machine because there isn’t a change machine, right?” said the surly fast food lady. She smirked and handed me a handful of coins.

I should’ve invested in a coin purse, wallet at the many markets I’d passed through. Change is a very necessary reality of overseas travel.

The washer dryer was located in a scenic parking garage, lovely place…

While my clothes were tumbling, somehow religion, church came up in conversation.

My parents are very active in the church of christ, a very conservative, evangelical branch of christianity. It was to the right of just about every other religion.

I’d stopped going when I was 20 much to the chagrin of my parents. I just had a lot more questions than answers. I also had fun.

It sucks arguing with someone who is so close and so into their beliefs. I guess I’d had enough of church letting me down, well for sure the people who attended always let you down.

I suppose others actions shouldn’t influence my belief and I am sure there is a verse or 2 about this very conundrum but I felt a lot better not going to church vs going. I mean, we are judged everyday as it is so why go to a place specifically to be even more judged?

Industrial size washers tend to take over an hour per cycle no matter what wash cycle you select. It takes a long time to wash and there isn’t much to do since the mall area closed.

I slung my clean clothes over my shoulder and off we set towards the promise of old Irish home cooking a short walk away.

We wound up only finding a Chineese takeaway. It was the worst meal I’d ever paid for.

It was bland and soupy, like moo goo gai pan but that wasn’t what we ordered. Ugh it was such a bad meal to end a nice trip. Bummer.

The night found us at the hotel bar, I was set on having a few pints of Guinness, my mom still concerned for my soul as well as my sobriety no doubt.

Now thinking about it, I was usually 2 beers deep most times of the day past noon on this trip. I could walk fine, probably shouldn’t drive a car, but could if needed. Is that bad? Probably not compared to all the pills everyone is on but hey those are prescribed. 

I heard a story about a great uncle who was prescribed bathtub gin by his doctor, became an alcoholic. I also know a couple people who have survived cancer. Doctors can help or hurt.

We both had early morning, long journeys ahead of us. For some reason, my mom flew into Chicago for a several hour layover. I guess Austin isn’t as popular as I thought for direct flights.

I had a ferry ride that left at 7am! The hell Ireland! Some people are just getting to sleep at that hour.

Oh well, it would be quite worth it. Ferries are a wonderful way to travel, much cheaper than plane or train.

Next stop, Wales!

Sláinte Ireland! You are a beaut!

Beer: Guinness

Song: U2   I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

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Dream trip Day 119 Rainy bus tour, stroll through Limerick, Japanese dinner

Woke up to rain, no surprise. No worries, there is coffee and buffet to bide the time.

After ordering coffee, I strode towards the buffet line intent on procuring a pancake from the oft empty machine.

Success! I was able to get a couple cakes out before it needed refilling. Judging by the time, this was going to have to do.

We arrived perhaps 30 minutes before end of service. They aren’t filling the bag again.

A leisurely meal whilst reading the local paper. My mom was filling in the crossword. I helped with words occasionally but more often than not, she completed  puzzles on her own.

We had learned of a bus tour through Limerick and felt that if there was a break in the rain, we may as well take the dry bus vs. staying in our hotel all day.

Fortified with a hot meal in our bellies and rain coats, we walked the half mile or so to the bus stop.

We were 2 of 4 people who ventured out in the rain. The bus driver waited about 5 minutes after we got on before we left.

“Maybe we can get a couple more stragglers,” he ventured to us via the microphone.

That was the last thing he said as he switched on the pre-recorded tour as he pulled away from the curb.

A nice Irish gentlemen gave us all the highlights of the city from certain historical houses to the cherished Thormond Park, home to Munster Rugby Club.

It reminded me of Odessa’s Permian football team, small town with a stadium fit for college teams, tens of thousands seating.

My mom is a Permian alumni. If you care to know more be sure to read Friday Night Lights, a great book about the football team and small city life in west Texas.

After the hour bus ride, the sky was as clear and open as our itinerary for the day.

We strolled down main street popping into a very tiny mall, shopping center. We didn’t stay long, it wasn’t much to see.

Keeping the River Shannon on our right, I knew we couldn’t get lost.

We found a house near the water, the roof serving as a home, restroom for many birds, mainly cranes by the looks. For sure, only big birds get the spot in the sun.

My mom soon asked me that dreaded question, “What are you going to do when you get back? You can’t travel forever…”

It’s like, what are you going to do, eat 1 month from today. Do you know? I mean, some people who eat the same thing regularly could provide an answer.

No one knows what will happen so you’ve got to learn to roll with life, take it as it comes.

I didn’t know there was a castle across the river until we saw it, so I took a pic.

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Shoot, I had to figure out where I was going to go next week! Today was our last day in Limerick, we had a train to Dublin tomorrow, then my mom flew out the following day.

I had planned as far as Dublin with her, maybe we should head back to the hotel for some Wi-Fi so I could plan my next stop.

A couple of ways I searched for destinations and how to get there was using Rome2Rio or Gopili when I was overseas. Pick a starting point and they figured out how to get you most anywhere in the world via bus, train, ferry, plane or car share.

After scanning a map, Wales is just across the sea from Dublin. Wait, so is Liverpool!

It was quite a trip to Liverpool unless I fly, so may as well take the ferry again, see Wales, why not? My 2nd grade teacher went there, said it was pretty.

Plus, what is up with that  name?! Ain’t no whales in Wales! I shall just have to find out.

Once I had figured my next stop, dinner was in order.

To my delight my mom mentioned she saw a Japanese spot next door to the Locke Bar, I do love sushi, udon so let’s do it!

We passed by the shipwreck, now the boat was under more water due to rain than when we arrived.

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Slow night at the sushi spot in Limerick, which made for a great night.

A very friendly waitress appeared and took our beverage order. When my mom asked a couple of food questions, she just sat down with us.

There was only 1 other table, “Just served that lot, they’ll be fine. Let’s get you sorted out!” she exclaimed.

She sat at our table for close to 5 minutes if not longer not just helping with our food order but filling us in about Limerick and Ireland.

After she left, as parents are wont to do, my mom winked and pointed, basically saying, ‘Hey single son, there is a lady why not ask her out?! We needs grandkids!’

Being the still single son I pointed out the huge ring on her finger, her heart belongs to another.

I typically order noodles and unagi, freshwater eel. Served with delicious tare sauce, my favorite sushi!

Our waitress did seem intrigued by my trip and I gave her the abridged version before another large party walked in.

“I’d love to stay but it is slow, this table might make rent! Have a wonderful time in Ireland!” she said as she dropped out check and swooped on the new table.

It had been quite a day so I only had a shot of Jameson and a beer before heading up to the room.

The talkative bartender was very subdued this evening, not many stories to share.

Last night in Limerick was a good one. Tomorrow, train to Dublin!

Beer: Harris pale ale

Song: Boomtown Rats   Rat Trap

 

Dream trip Day 105 Farewell Belfast, train to Dublin, hurling championship

Parting is such sweet sorrow, today was my final day in Belfast. I started out with a final breakfast at the cafe.

What constantly surprised me is places I thought were just for hostel guests, as in they were connected or just served inexpensive food, but locals came and ate at the cafe too.

I don’t know, eating at a youth hostel or YMCA equivalent seems odd to me. I can’t place my reason for this opinion to this point, but clearly I was wrong. It was good food.

I never really saw or talked to any of my roommates, and there were a couple of groups who passed through. Like passing ships in the night I suppose.

Checking out the train options for some reason I elected to walk to the main station vs. hopping on at the small station close by. I think this had to do with extra cost to some degree, or maybe I just wanted to walk through the city 1 more time.

The walk along the River Langan passes by the main rail station so that was the path I chose, one away from cars and traffic.

I’d just missed a train by about 5 minutes so I had to wait for about an hour for another 1. There weren’t many tracks at this station, maybe 3 I want to say.

Ireland sure is green and pretty. I do enjoy a train ride. Play some tunes and watch the countryside rolling by is nice.

A short ride to Dublin. Nice to have good weather for a change. Well it wasn’t overcast down in Dublin anyway.

For once I took my hostel’s location in relation to the train station, so it was a short walk.

It seemed to be about writers here as I walked on James Joyce Street to my hostel.

Check-in was a breeze and I was soon greeted by a guy and a gal laying on their bunks in the room. The girl was just as pretty as the guy was creepy. I mean dude turned out to be a step away from only wearing a long raincoat.

We chatted a bit about where we were from. The guy was Austrian, shaggy greasy dirty blonde haired guy who would just fire odd questions at you for a few moments before saying, ‘I must go smoke,’ then leave for a bit, return as if nothing happened and resumed talking.

The girl related she was just beginning her trip through the island and through the UK.

I bade them a goodnight and headed out to see what was good in Dublin. 1st order of business was to get a Guinness, brewed right here.

A main street close to the hostel was severely under construction. I noted about 3 tough looking pubs on this side of the street.

Soon I was walking on O’Connell Street and encountered the Spire. It’s a big spike in the middle of a street, mainly used as a meeting place or orientation spot.

Ah a bridge over the River Liffey, I paused on the bridge to watch a ship pass under.

Wow, Dublin was beautiful, very cool city already and I just arrived. Continuing on the path I begin to keep an eye out for a cool pub.

I found one, a couple of seats at the bar, right near the tap. I could watch the bartender pour Guinness, maybe learn a proper pouring technique.

Probably in my head but the Guinness here was very good, creamy + malty. Different than I can remember even compared to Belfast.

The place was full of people, eyes tuned to TV’s with a sport I’ve never seen before. It looks like rugby but with sticks.

Ah because rugby clearly isn’t violent enough, let’s give them a weapon too.

These guys were charging at each other full speed, trying to knock the ball holder down to get the ball back. Slashing their sticks while they ran.

I was watching the all Ireland hurling championships and by the sound of things, a lot of people here were well invested in the game.

There is always lots of singing, chanting at oversea events, made me wish we had something similar for baseball games in the US. Makes games much more of a group experience.

I decided to finish out the match here before heading out. 1 more perfectly poured pint of Guinness my good man!

Pint after pint, all Guinness, all night, my goodness! Tray after tray kept going out.

A huge cheer, Tipperary were the winners! A victory song was sung.

I give a nod to the bartender while saying thank you and back on the streets I went.

A bit hungry for some more fun or more like it I was just physically hungry.

There was a corner spot called Doyle’s that looked perfect. Fairly small place with not many seats, but there were some around the bar so I took a seat and scanned the taps.

They had it, Tubög! A beer I’d had a lot when I was in Copenhagen a couple of years ago.

I’ve not seen it since, but the reality is it isn’t a great beer, just a good memory in a pint.

A guy sitting next to me commented on the beer, ‘that’s where I am from! Why do you like it?’ he asked.

I told him about my Copenhagen trip and we traded some info about the city as I’d only seen a small portion of it. He had grown up there but was now seemed to always be traveling for business. I think he was a banker.

He knew a lot about Dublin and filled me in pretty well whilst I enjoyed a burger, he just drank, like a machine, beer after beer.

“See Dublin College, don’t go to Jameson tour, Guinness is good,  get an Irish fry up at least once, it is my favorite thing to eat in Dublin. So so good!’ he said.

By this point, he had a 3/4ths full pint in front of him.  He chugged the pint, then hit the streets. Time to go.

After another pint for me, it was time for me to leave as well.

Once at the bridge, I paused just staring at the water. I don’t know how long I was out there looking at the water but I found some peace out there, if only for a moment.

Beer:  Tubög

Song:  My Bloody Valentine   When You Sleep

Dream trip Day 97 Scottish fry up, train to Glasgow, Drygate Brewery

Even though my hostel was literally across the street from the city’s main train depot, or is it train station? At what point does it become a depot?

At any rate, I had all afternoon as it was a 1 hour train ride so I had to kill some time due to the late afternoon check in.

I had talked with one of my friends about a beer that we felt should have been easy to obtain in Scotland: McEwan’s Scotch Ale. Turns out it is made by an English brewery.

Using a beer finder app, I located a bar that a user reported had McEwan’s beer, plus they served breakfast. I’d need both things before heading to Glasgow.

I packed up my bags and headed into the overcast day. A few turns and I was at the Black Rose Tavern.

This was the pub I should’ve gone to most nights, it was real Scottish pub/music venue!

They had an all day Scottish breakfast consisting of eggs, hashbrown toast, haggis, black and white pudding, fried tomato mushrooms a hash patty and biscuit. It was sooo much food!

This was one of my favorite meals on my trip. It was the 1st of many UK style fry ups that I’d have in Scotland, Ireland and England.

This was my first encounter with pudding, aka blood sausage. It came in black and white options. I presumed the black was the one made with blood, while the white was just a regular breakfast sausage. Both are delicious especially when dragged through the runny yolk of a fried egg.

Again, haggis isn’t bad and I enjoyed having it again. A nice Scottish meal sendoff from Edinburgh!

I did get a McEwan’s but not their scotch ale, it was a draft lager. My group of friends back home discovered this beer and hounded the bar where we visited to carry it. That was years ago, the brewery stopped exporting it for some reason.

Making my way back to the train station was easy, the hard part was finding the right place to buy tickets, then finding the correct track.

Lucky for me, Scotland has an intern program so there were people all over the station desperate for someone to ask them a question.

Not only was I pointed to the right booth for tickets, I had enough time to get the next train to Glasgow.

I was quite fortunate with my trains, but soon enough, I’d stumble like we all do.

Only an hour trip which flew by as fast as the countryside. A lovely country, made me wish I went up to the Highlands to see more.

I’d selected a YMCA style hostel near the tracks, but I only elected to stay 1 night so I could check out the place and that part of the city.

It was about a half hour’s walk through the bustling downtown. I arrived with still time before my check in time so I elected to wash clothes until they would let me into my room.

After washing I was able to check in. My room was empty when I got into my bunk for a nap, then was full when I awoke.

I noticed that there seemed to be 1 person who never left their room. They would arrange their bed with a sheet door so they wouldn’t be disturbed.

Some would be on their phones chatting, skypeing or just playing games their entire stay, from what I saw. At least I would have some stories other than hey remember that time we talked when I was in Scotland? Yeah that was cool….

I got dressed and mapped out a route to the nearest brewery, Drygate Brewery.

My route took me through an industrial part of town with not many houses, but I soon faintly heard music.

I saw a pub across the road I was walking and they were blasting Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35. You know that song: Everybody must get stoned.

Well this was a karaoke version lead by a man with the most stereotypical Scottish broge I’ve heard to this point.

He was also adding in lyrics in between Dylan’s so it went:

They’ll stone ya when yer walking down the street (tha bastards!)

They’ll stone you when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat (cunts!)

They’ll stone you when you’re walkin’ on the floor (wankers!)

This is what I heard all down the street, big grin on my face. What a welcome to the city!

After turning away from the loud pub, I was on a main thoroughfare with lots of shops, pubs and restaurants.

Another right hand turn and while I thought I was heading the wrong way, the empty lots and warehouses gave way to the brewery.

It was a 2 story building with several picnic benches on an outside patio.

I made my way through the large indoor bar. In the back was the store where you can buy beer to go.

This would never work in Texas. The current law, unchanged since Prohibition, requires a 3rd party distributor. You can brew beer but you cannot just sell it directly to a person. Dumb.

Sparse crowd out tonight, a week night and early at that. I’d soon learn they closed early too.

I picked up my pint and opted to sit outside, there was another group of guys out there as well as a table of girls, maybe it was a mixed group.

The sun went down just like the beer in my pint glass.

I sauntered back to the bar where I was informed this would be my last beer, but I could buy 2 if I liked.

Opting to taste a couple of beers, I selected my final pint and sat down inside.

A girl came in and ask me for a lighter which I lent her. I’d gotten into the habit when traveling of carrying a lighter as it is a good way to meet people, start a conversation.

“You from Glasgow?” I ventured.

“Have to run, thanks for the light, cheers!” Came the reply.

I returned to my beer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t.

The walk back was a bit concerning due to the low light. They really needed to upgrade or install more lights, as several times I had to walk down a dark street.

No loud karaoke from the pub I’d passed before, just a group of people out front.

Once again I’m faced with McDonald’s as a late night option as there was 1 across the street from my hostel. Nah it isn’t real food.

I’d read this book and stopped eating fast food a few years ago. This trip was my ultimate test. Could I resist a taste of home?  A taste of something familiar, or would I venture out and try some local restaurants, a taste local flavors?

Tonight I won the battle and still don’t know what McD’s tastes like overseas.

A good travel day, tomorrow I explore Glasgow!

Beer: Ax Man

Song:  Belle & Sebastian   Stars of Track and Field

Dream trip Day 88 Farewell Krakow, train, bus, hello Warsaw

I woke up, showered and scoped the common room of the hostel. Only a couple people and I didn’t feel like having instant coffee so I walked next door.

I got a cinnamon roll like pastry with my cup of coffee. Plus I asked for mleko in it, a bit of milk.

Thanks google translate! Now I can make ladies in other countries laugh at my failed attempt at speaking their language. 

Sitting on a bench in front of a church I read over the many posters that gave a brief overview of pope John Paul II’s history with Poland and Krakow. The current pope had been in town a few weeks prior to my visit.

He grew up in Krakow, I learned, and he spoke 12 languages! Damn overachiever, haha that is totally amazing and no doubt helped him as a pope.

Next to me was the ever present pigeon feeder, flinging bread all over to a happy flock of birds.

I am annoyed by pigeons and wish we could get them under control in cities. They shit everywhere and that has to affect people’s health.

I envisioned a sound gun or something that would disable them so you can capture the birds, which are then cooked and given to the homeless (provided that downtown pigeon meat is safe to eat). Perhaps the feathers could be used to make pillows for the homeless too.

I soon had to collect my things in order to checkout on time or else face a fine.

It wasn’t very far to the mall, train depot plus I had time so I casually strolled under the bridge and through the mall. Even went upstairs to check out the 2nd floor.

The train depot was small so locating my track was easy. I even selected the correct car and seat!

We pulled out from the station and once again, rolling green fields and countryside appeared. So beautiful.

Not a long train ride either, about 4 hours.

According to the map app I use, there was a cool sounding hostel about a 2 mile walk through the city in the old town. This is a great way to see the lay of the land.

Through an industrial section gave way to a small restaurant area, before a park was near.

Always take the route that goes through a park or green area when in another city even if it is a little bit out of your way.

I soon was in a green area that suddenly had houses and businesses. There was an open gate ahead though it seemed like I was about to go into someone’s backyard, I walked through to a narrow street full of shops, eateries.

About a mile long I’d say, different ethnic cuisines on either side of the street.

Warsaw was very affordable, especially compared to Zurich. Spend 2 days in Zurich or 5 in Warsaw is about the comparison.

I also just noticed you cannot spell Zurich without rich, ZuRICH.

I found that probably the best thing one can do shortly after checking in somewhere is to get a shower in. Scope the scene and get clean, then whilst air drying you can orientate yourself with the city.

Tonight I had a hankering for noodles, so I took off on an ill fated journey as the place I selected seemed to be inside a mall or behind a door I missed. I walked the dadgum block all the way around, couldn’t find it.

I settled on another noodle joint I randomly passed by and it was pretty good. Then again, I really enjoy noodles.

I walked back to my side of town as the sun went down. Always a good idea to be somewhat close to your dwelling when in a unknown city near dark.

In the oldest part of town was the Elephant Belgium Pub, so I took a slight trip back to one of my favorite countries.

The spectacle here was outside. Cobblestone streets, no cars, full band buskers, you name it, they were on display here.

I alternated views from a fubol match on one side in the pub to the street view from the window.

I sauntered home after a couple pints. Traveling by train sure wears you out for some reason.

Song: David Bowie  Warszawa

Beer: Space Sheep

 

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