Yes, I'm still alive!
We started on the 14th of March and flew from Düsseldorf Weeze to London Stansted. It was a cheap and short flight and we landed in the evening in London. Our plan was to see a late night movie at the cinema and/or party through the night, then sleep on our way to Dublin on the train to Holyhead (that's the little town where we'd take a ferry to Ireland) because our journey would start so very early because of the ferry that we wouldn't really sleep long in a hostel anyway. So making the night to day was the plan. But as always the theory has nothing to do with the reality. We landed safely in London, so good so far... but weren't really in the mood for cinema and too young for partying, so we walked around town, just enjoying the city at first. But it was getting colder and colder, so we decided to look for a hostel instead, but everything was booked out or too expensive. We ended up walking around aimlessly... Then we decided to just go to the 24h Burger King or 24h McDonalds to kill time, but they weren't open. Well okay yeah they were open... 24/7, but I think we Germans have a different definition of "open". They had transformed fast food places into something that reminded me of a drive-thru: They had shut down the sitting spaces and were just trying to get the people out of the way by handing out food and making them leave as fast as humanly possible.
LESSON 1: Just because it says open 24h doesn't mean you can stay there to sit & relax.
We tried to stay at the train station. Just like the kind of people trying to catch a train early in the morning at 1 or 2 am. But we failed miserably as well, because they shut down the stations as well. Fortunately for us they reopened just a few hours later. We didn't know it back then, so we felt a little lost. The cold was unbearable. We had to do something. At least the streets were still full of people. We began to ask some of them if there were other hostels we hadn't found yet or places where you could sit down at this ungodly hour. Most of them were nice, some were just strange and all of them had no idea. We got more and more desperate. The night was cold and long, the backpacks heavy and heavier.
One man send us to a hostel where green light came out the windows and strange deals were made at the front or in the court yard. We still asked for a room at this very odd place because a staff member of another hostel recommended it but even this whacky pit was fully booked. (Murphy's Law at its finest.)
A strange older man said he could help us. He spoke of a hotel that had a place in the back, where you could sit down and wait. And for a moment there was light at the end, because he had even time to show us this wonderful place. But then he told us to follow him into a dark creepy alley... We turned around immediately and walked in the other direction.
LESSON 2: Be careful whom you trust.
A Hobo came along who had seen us running up and down. He invited us to sit down, drink and smoke weed with him, but we refused. Everything seemed scary at this time of day. He nodded understanding and as if he'd already known what we wanted to know, he told us to take one of those red busses. We would have to pay only 2,40 for no matter how long the distance. The bus'd drive around in circles all night anyway, so that we could sit down and relax and maybe sleep a little and after a while when the stations reopened, we'd be back where we started. It was the first useful advice.
We took a bus and it felt so great to sit for a while. Our tired feet and our back thought so too. When we got off the train station had reopened, we waited for a while more (but this time in the warm waiting room of the station) and took later that day (15th March) the train to Holyhead. We swore to never try to go without a hostel ever again.
At a halt in between London and our goal (Holyhead) we had to change trains and were reminded that we still needed night train reservations for the way from Edinburgh to London. We figured that it would cost probably more than we'd expect, but surprise! It didn't cost a god damn thing! Z-E-R-O! FUCK YEAH!
LESSON 3: Not everything goes as planned, but sometimes the unexpected makes you even happier!
In Holyhead we got on the ferry and finally relaxed. It was such a lovely ride. We had seats in the front of the ship and watched the shimmering of the sun on the water. And then this moment when the island comes in sight: Incredible! I mean yeah to some it is just a ride on a ferry.
But you know that's the great thing about Johanna. She's excited about a lot of things. She hasn't seen much of the world, she might not be experienced or know a lot about life, but she definitely does one thing right:
She values the little things in life and the greater things even more.
For her, a good meal isn't just nourishment. For her, a flight or a ferry isn't just a way to get around. And for her, animals aren't just meat (She's a vegetarian).
LESSON 4: Focus on the good things! (Really! It might seem like an absolutely idiotic advice, but it's a lifesaver!)
In Dublin we had to look for a hostel as well, because everything on the Internet was totally booked out (believe me, we tried everything even couchsurfing, but around St. Patrick's Day Dublin is just too full) or too far away from the actual event of St. Patrick's Day (the real reason we chose to come here anyway.). So our mission to find two beds began. But it did not only seem more hopeless, but more expensive as well. We didn't want to stay outside one more night. We had sworn that to ourselves. And if you want really something, you'll find a way. And we did. It just did cost more than it was worth.
LESSON 5: Book the hostels before. Really. I know sometimes it will not work, but try anyhow.
On Interrail tour you'll be confronted with all kinds of hostels: the good ones and the worst ones. Until now we have definitely found the worst one. It was super expensive. (ca.40€ per night per person, yes I know...but it was our last hope for that night). The sanitary facilities were dirty. The showers changed between hot and cold. The "breakfast" was cheap, trashy and disgusting (old toasts with marmelade and nothing else. The orange juice and apple juice must have been poisonous, because they tasted so vile. And the rooms were cold as ice. I think it was because of the badly sealed up windows or walls. You didn't even get your own room key! You had to hope that someone was already there. The only upside of this hostel was that it was located in the central of Dublin and that we could finally sleep. (I'll definitely write a longer review when I come back. Watch out! I can be mean when I'm furious! And this time I'm on fire!)
But for this night in which I write this blog post. We booked a lovely hostel: The Avalon House. It might not be absolutely central, but it's not that far either. I really like it, because it's perfectly geared to the needs of backpackers or travellers in general with a budget limit. The staff is friendly and the rooms and bathrooms are clean. There is a real huge kitchen for self-catering, but breakfast is included as well.
Today we went to see the National Gallery of Art and then the National History Museum of Archeology. Both are free, but I recommend the Archeology museum more. It's so interesting and a lot of things are interactive! You can touch a few things or try out some of the old tools and artifacts! The mummies are the best part! (Yep you heard right: mummies!)
We went for lunch and then went out to enjoy the St. Patrick's Day some more. We met very nice people. The Irish are so heart-warming, friendly and jolly people. They love to talk and have this general interest in other people, which makes them very lovable. But all the people celebrating St. Patrick's Day are full of energy and party-loving people. (Although I think the Americans seem to have mistaken the festivities for the last step before alcoholism. All they want to do is drink until they can't remember a thing. And not even the national drink Guiness...no, it has to be stronger stuff like Vodka. Pure Vodka.). We befriended some guys from Brazil and I tried a real Guiness. I think it doesn't taste bad, but not my kind of drink.
I can't think straight anymore. It's getting late and I have to get up early tomorrow to get to Edinburgh.
A few last impressions of Dublin: Greeeeen eeeeveeerywheeere!, Guiness Beer, so many people! Funny, friendly... I get repetative. I log off now.