Have you even been so hungover on a ferry you weren’t even supposed to be in (because you hopelessly watched the first one sail away) that little kids ask their parent if you’re sick or dying?
I’m a sucker for all modes of transportation, so I’ll try any and all ways to get somewhere. Plane, boat, ferry, trains that go underneath the ocean – they’re all fascinating to me.
Being in Europe it was generally cheaper to just fly, and although airplanes will forever be my favorite type of craft, I hate wasting the time it takes to get through security and the hassle and the stress, so I started looking for alternatives.
Know what’s a cool thing to do when you’re in England and trying to get away from the island? Ferries.
In my mind, ferries are the ferries we have in Brazil – open platforms with little more than some flimsy railings and a control tower squeezed in the corner. They never look too trustworthy or comfortable, and in my head I always replay all scenarios in which it ends up flipping downside up and how that takes me to certain death.
We’re not talking about those, here – what I’m talking about are the floating little cities, the sea towns that connect you from A to B but feel like a destination themselves.
I mean, how cool is it to have a meal while the boat gently sways but you’re not paying $900 to be on your way to the Caribbean? All you have to do is book a rail+sail ticket with Virgin Trains and for £39(ish) each way you can make your way to Temple Bar in nine hours or so. From London Euston you take a train to Holyhead, Wales, a tiny little port town across from Ireland, and from there a ferry directly into Dublin port which puts you very close to the heart of the city. Done.
The train ride is pleasant and scenic, through the English and Welsh countrysides and near the water at different points.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and, really, I had no way to know that you have to get to the ferry port about an hour before the ferry actually leaves, and that’s not getting there early. It takes a while to get through security and immigration, as I learned.
Hindsight also tells me I should not have been out around Temple Bar until 6 am the day I was supposed to get back to London, and I specially should not have climbed into bed to “take a short little nap”. It wasn’t until an hour before my ferry was supposed to leave that I woke up, in complete panic and confusion as I looked around the full hostel room for my friend, sleeping peacefully because her flight was in the afternoon. I shoved everything in my bag as fast as I humanly could – eyes half closed and only half focused – but to no avail, getting there just in time to watch my ferry sail away.
As it turns out, ferries leave every five hours or so, and so I faced my well deserved punishment and sat there until the early afternoon when another one was set to sail. I dragged my silly self to a group of stuffed chairs near the corner of the ferry and laid down, head on my backpack, throbbing to the rhythm of my heartbeat. What a genius, I thought. Who thinks they can just nap for an hour after a long night out? I covered my eyes with my hoodie and half hoped for death and half hoped to get back to England in an instant, knowing very well I still had two train rides and the underground to get to my sister’s house but deciding to worry about that later, when more brain cells were available. A family sat across from me, and I heard a little girl ask in her adorable accent “dad, do you think that girl is sick? Is she alive?” to which I just couldn’t help but smile at.
Back at Holyhead I had, of course, missed the train I had tickets for. As I walked up to the ticket window, ready to struggle through understanding the adorable-yet-indiscernible Welsh accent, I started to cry instead – hungover and overwhelmed, it’s a wonder the lovely lady at the counter didn’t tell me to suck it up and instead offered me tickets and a ticket swap for free. Long story short, the journey took me 18 hours instead of 9, but it’s all about the experience, right? I ended up learning a lesson or two…