We’re not planners, nope, not, so when we decided to go away this summer we just booked and went, literally within days. The King was waiting for some business things to fall in place and then it was all systems go. I think we booked on wednesday and were flying the next monday. The only thing we booked was the return airfares to Dublin, the rest was a ‘let’s just do this’ trip.
For us that worked. When we landed we got the best rate on a hire car because we could bargain, we had no idea where we were going to sleep the first night but knew we were seeing the relatives so we just got on the road. It’s the years of travelling in a band that has taught us to just roll with it.
For the first few nights we just found B&B’s along the way, the rates were reasonable and it was time to stop. We loved the free wifi! Not something you experience in accomodation in America. It’s all ‘that’ll be $12.95 for 24 hours thanks’. Every night was a different part of Ireland, the countryside unfolding before us, the thrill of the discovery. Of course some nights we came a little unstuck because we rolled in after dinner time and had to eat bar snacks or late night fodder from the nearby service station. But that was also part of the charm, so we kept telling the kids. On nights when this happened, we made sure the next night we ate first or got into town earlier. The kids were the best travellers, they just enjoyed the scenery or watched things on their devices. We stopped to check things out, we stopped to eat, we stopped for bathroom breaks. Some days we covered hundreds of kilometres, other days we covered less. In 3 days we had seen so much of Ireland we were amazed.
Thursday saw us in a chocolate factory for breakfast, flying on the cliffs of Kerry by lunch and by afternoon we were on a boat, in the car crossing back to the mainland from an island on our way to Galway.
We rolled into Galway at around 8pm. It was beautiful, a very nice place to stay and we were really looking forward to eating and checking it out the following morning. We found the hotel district pretty easily, it’s a well laid out city. We parked and the King ran in, no vacancy, sorry Sir we’re fully booked. That’s fine, we’ll go around the corner to the Hilton, The Princess ran in ….no vacancy,sorry ma’am we’re fully booked… hmmm ok, so we tried one more, fully booked but he kindly pointed us in the direction of B&B row, where all the Bed and Breakfasts are and the back packer accommodation. We went into one and he’s fully booked, ok we started to wonder, it’s getting later and we haven’t eaten yet. The King and Princess headed into the next B&B and they had one family room left which would accommodate 4 but as we’re 5 we decided to go eat and decide what to do.
We were heading to Belfast the next day to go to Scotland, so over dinner we decided that while we’ll miss seeing Galway, maybe it’s better to drive through to Belfast and get accom there. It’s only 4 hours, the kids can sleep in the car and we’ll have the hire car back a day early and save money and yadda yadda. So, full of food and ready for the drive the kids settled in and we headed off.
I was tired, I didn’t really want to drive through but the King said he was fine and it was a better plan. My problem is that I can’t relax, I feel like I must stay awake to make sure he stays alert. It was hard, I was exhausted and fighting sleep but we rolled into Belfast around 3am. We were ready for a nice sleep in a nice hotel… Navigating around the city was a little strange, so many one way streets but we finally found the Hilton, everyone needed the bathroom so we piled out while the King went to get rooms. Oho… fully booked. That’s fine we saw the Marriott around the block.. and you guessed it fully booked.
By now this was becoming less funny, it was early hours of the morning, we were travel weary and sick of everything. 3 more hotels, 3 more answers ‘fully booked’ FUCK! What the fuck is going on? We’re in a major city for fuck sake… Well my friends we just happened to pick the night of the big concert, don’t ask me who was playing cos I really don’t care but we were like Mary and Joseph except I wasn’t pregnant and we already had 3 kids… meh details. Scrambling to make plans as the sun was coming up and it was pointless by this stage to pay for a room for only a couple of hours sleep, we located the hertz agency to return the car. No phone number and no key drop off and not open til 9… it was 5:45 am. As we drove around the corner we saw a beacon of hope. The Holiday Inn was opening up for breakfast….. great! Let’s eat, pee and just get on the road to Scotland already, fuck Belfast…
So we wander in like bedraggled travellers, looking for coffee and sympathy. What we met was Mr. Uptight Asshole. Breakfast isn’t open until 6:30 and although the machine right there was gurgling with hot water, no we’re not serving coffee. Well fuck you pal! We sat, and plugged in and hooked into their wifi… After a little while I got the kids out of the car and they took up sleeping on the couches… Mr Uptight Asshole didn’t like that and so we moved them to the table beside us. Miss Gremlin and Grand Master D just stretched out on the floor instead. Fuck him. It was then that the Maitre D talked with Mr Uptight Asshole about us and she brought over a pot of coffee and some frothy hot chocolates for the kids. See there are nice people in the world.
While we drank our coffee and the kids slept, we googled ferries to Scotland and rental car return options. Nobody was hungry so after we were charged up and caffeinated we left The Holiday Inn and headed for the ferry.
There were logistics to overcome, the kids and I stayed at the ferry terminal with the luggage while the King and the Princess set off to return the car to the airport and taxi back to the ferry terminal. There was plenty of time, it was 7 am and the ferry left at 11. We were the only ones there. The early ferry had just left and so the kids took up sleeping on the seats. No food, no money and a not very nice ticket seller who wouldn’t give me change or sell me tickets until 9am….Should’ve eaten at the Holiday Inn like I wanted to.
Northern Ireland does not have the same feel as Ireland. You see, it’s part of the UK and you can really tell the difference, all over Ireland we were met with nothing but helpful, pleasant, well wishing people. From the moment our phones buzzed with the new country codes and data charges as we crossed into Northern Ireland, shit just changed. The atmosphere was heavy, no wonder they bomb the shit out of the place. It was awful.
We reunited around 8 and just hung out, using the facilities,wifi and power to get ourselves sorted. When 9am came, Mr Non helpful was so pleasant! It was like he’s had an anal probe and an injection of niceness. He couldn’t be more helpful, suggesting the best places to stay, helping us navigate our ferry and rail passage to Glasgow. He even printed out hotel rates and directions.
As the boat arrived and boarding got closer we had to go through security, like the airport but not quite as strict. Once upstairs there was food… and coffee.
In 3 hours we’d be in Scotland and we would find a hotel and rest, then do some discovering around Glasgow.
Just before we boarded the boat, the Princess upgraded us to a suite, we had a hotel room on the ferry for our 3 hour journey. We all took turns roaming the boat and taking a catnap. We even took showers. It was a welcome change to the night in the car.
Ireland we love you… but we got the hint you’d had enough of us… with the words ‘fully booked’ still wringing in our ears we alighted in a new country with new adventures to be had…….