I didn’t stay in Dublin too long, mainly because, well, that wasn’t where I was supposed to be. So the next morning I hopped on a train and gleefully sped on to Cork, or, at least, that’s how the story goes, anyway. What really happened was I woke up late, decided to pack my three bags into two, didn’t get to go back to Insomnia Coffee, and couldn’t find a place to stow my bag on the train.
I was quite glad I had budgeted extra time for a coffee stop because it did give me a cushion. Still, I hate those moments when you are standing in a hotel room, half dressed, looking around at the mess you are trying to pack thinking “what was I going to do?” The train station is downhill from the hotel, which should have been more helpful than it was (the sidewalk was slanted toward the street, so I couldn’t quite let my suitcase roll of its own accord). It was somewhat sad leaving the hotel, given it had such lovely pillows and the staff had been so nice. Still, away I went, rolling away down to the station.
The train station was large, and it took me a few minutes to figure out where to print my ticket. I had figured (rightly) that it would be a kiosk, but unlike other train stations, this one had a lot of kiosks where you could buy things like chocolates. The Irish are really into sweets shops. I did stop at one of the little shops to get a hot chocolate (still on the no-coffee sprint) and a scone, then headed off to my train.
To get on a train, you have to have your ticket, which actually acts more as a pass. There are little entry gates where you insert your ticket, which it spits back out at you, and then the gate opens and you walk through. When you get to your destination, you insert it again (and it spits it back out again) to be released back into the real world. Apparently if you have one of the frequent rider passes, you just scan and it opens. If you pre-bought a ticket, or pre-chose a seat, it will have your name on it, which is kind of nice. No having to argue with someone over seat assignments. Then again, you can’t randomly choose to sit somewhere where no one else is, because you have an assigned seat. I like sitting on my own, so this was a bit of a problem.
Anyway, I had expected the trains to be similar to Amtrak, which they were, in some respects. They had a variety of both forward facing and backward facing seats, some with tables, some without, but they definitely had less luggage space (and the seats were nowhere near as wide). Ultimately, two kind gentlemen helped me get my suitcase up in the overhead, because a bunch of bags had been placed in the suitcase area, and it would not be too polite of me to just squish the bags with my big suitcase. When the first one had offered to lift it up for me, I began to caution him about how much it weighed, but then stopped because, well, I didn’t know how many kilograms it weighed because I hadn’t memorized that conversion yet (for reference, 1 pound is 2.2 kg).
I retreated back to my seat. I had chosen a seat by a table, as I was hoping to take some of my papers out and write or draw. No such luck. Across from me were two elderly ladies, one who eyed me severely and one who was kindly and grandmotherly, with purple tinted hair and a large medalion necklace. She reminded me a bit of my Aunt Mutz, even more so when I found out she was almost the same age and had the same gift of looking fifteen or twenty years younger than she really was. Next to me was a kindly middle-aged man with Down’s, who, regrettably, I could not really talk with as I was still having a bit of trouble with accents. Once the severe lady got off, we did talk some with Grandma, who was kind enough to interpret whatever was not understood. It turned out she had traveled quite a bit, with family living and working around the globe. She even recounted a story of how peer pressure in Australia had caused her to quit smoking, “because it was so hard to find a place to smoke, and when you did, it made you feel dirty compared to everyone else.”
She and I were both on the train to the end of the route, which made the trip pass quickly. We even arrived early at our destination, which was good for her and boring for me, since I had a good two hours to kill before I could get the key to my apartment. I did manage to get my suitcase down on my own. Without much to do, I settled in at the waiting area, pulled out my phone, discovered there was no wifi, and settled in to playing games on my phone, because there really wasn’t much else to do…and I was not about to lug my suitcase around yet another town.