Archives For trains

Sail and Rail to London

July 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

It has been, by most accounts, a most unusual summer for Ireland. The sun comes out most days, the temperature sits comfortably in the high 60s/low 70s, and rain has been fairly absent since I arrived in early June. This is not normal. When I moved over here two years ago, Dublin had just experienced two months of nothing but rain, and everyone had this angry, resigned look about them when talk of the weather would come up, victims of a cruel mother nature that just wouldn’t relent.

So this has been a good summer to be here, to spend some time doing Nothing for a while. A good summer for walks, for hanging the laundry on the line, a good summer for letting a cool breeze float through the living room while I work through a pile of books.

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Summer in Dublin: St. Stephen’s Green at midday.

I’m also here to continue my own independent study in the world of theatre, so I headed to London last month to meet up with an old Limelighter of mine named Kevin, to see some shows and indulge our mutual anglophilia. (Kevin’s the real Anglophile, but I have to split mine with an equal love for most-things-Irish, which can make for an interesting and sometimes conflicting set of interests.)

While it would have been faster to fly into London, you can get a cheap Sail and Rail ticket and spend the day crossing¬†the Irish Sea and riding a train into Euston Station, which was my plan. And it was all going well until there was a derailment (not on my train) and left many of us stranded in Crewe for a while. While we waited for news, many passengers wandered around the station in confusion, wondering when the trains would resume service, or if we’d get to London at all that night. I checked for updates on Twitter, and the National Rail app on my phone told me that there were several trains still scheduled for London that night. We’d be fine.

After an hour’s wait and a horrible sandwich from a W.H. Smith, a train bound for London was announced for Platform 12, arriving in a matter of minutes. Everyone gathered wheeled suitcases and oversized backpacks and rushed up the steps, across the walkway over the tracks, and back down the steps to Platform 12, and waited for the train to come.

Suddenly there was another announcement about the train for London arriving on Platform 5, and almost everyone panicked and headed back up the stairs and across to the platforms on the other side of the tracks. Almost everyone. Myself and a couple of others realized there were two trains coming in almost back-to-back on account of the delay. While everyone else crammed into the compartments of the train on Platform 5, we waited patiently until the next train arrived. The the three of us boarded the train via the first class compartment and one guy¬†asked the train manager if it was okay for us to sit there. “If you’ve got a first class ticket you can!” he said back, chuckling. We looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. Hey, we tried.

We walked to the end of the compartment and were about to head to the next one when the manager whistled and said, “Go ahead. You can stay.”

So that’s how we finished the trip to London. Three guys sitting in first class, enjoying free drinks and sandwiches as the sun went down, occasionally giving¬†each other a grin and a little nod. Sometimes it pays to be patient, folks.


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I figure that’s enough for this post. I’ll get to London and the shows in a bit. (Part Two of this story can be found here.)

French Rituals

December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Just some random thoughts from the past few days. I’ve written plenty more than this, but I thought I would keep it brief and to the point. And also, photos!

Say what you want about the French, but they love the ritual of sitting down for dinner. When you enter a restaurant, or cafe, or brassiere, you are always greeted with a “Bonjour!” You sit, order food, and when it comes, you get both “Voila!” and “Bon Appetit.” Every time. And it’s great, mostly because it’s the only French I really know.

Because I’m in the solo part of this trip right now (in between visiting friends in Prague and meeting up with the Dublin UCD crew in London tomorrow), I sit and write my thoughts down while I wait for my food, or I knock out a story or two in James Joyce’s Dubliners. It also helps to slow down the dinner process; I normally eat quick and efficient-like, as a bachelor often does. But a European dinner can last a couple of hours, so it’s important to sit and relax and enjoy the food and atmosphere.

And as I realize time and again, a book or a notepad is fine, but company is always better at dinner.

We’ll see if all those observations I wrote down make it onto here. I’m heading into the closing stretch of this trip, and London is going to be pretty jam-packed with theatre and (probably) late nights with that young crew from UCD.) But I have more stories to tell, and one last city to visit after London, so as always, stay tuned, dear readers…

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Can I tell you how fantastic train travel is over here? I could do it all day and never get tired. This is the train I took to Paris.

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Oh HI there! Years from now, I’ll want to look back on this trip, and so it’s important to remember what I looked like. Old and bald, yesirree…

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Snowing in the Strasbourg Christmas market.

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The Venus de Milo, in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

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Looking out the window at the Musee D’Orsay, Paris. It used to be a train station. Shout-out to all the Hugo fans out there.

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Haroosh and I at the Eiffel Tower, Paris. He’s afraid of heights, so we didn’t go up to the top.

Also, I need a shave.

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Another picture of the Eiffel Tower. Had to get the light just right.

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Walkway across the river Seine, in Paris. Those are locks on the left and right. It’s become a popular thing for people in love to write their names on a lock then attach it to a bridge. Saw the same thing on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Man, that’s just a fraction of what I’ve seen and done in the past few days. Hopefully I’ll get more up soon!