DUB be good to me Euro Love Train part 0.5: the preamble

Friends, say that I am crazy...

Hello. I'm Darren. You might remember me from such blog post series as "The Boroughers" and "some random trip to Grenada" and sundry other excessively described jaunts around the world. Some of you might even have read "The Great Circular European Railway Challenge", or at least the recap which also served as a preview of Euro Love Train.

So, welcome to Euro Love Train. Sort of. This trip starts in Dublin, so first I had to get there.

That's easy, right? First things first: work from home due to a Piccadilly line strike that may have actually not taken place after all, but also to received some hand-delivered unexpectedly large and delicate art, plus, well, y'know... I was a bit tired and shit after that semi-final defeat. Bleurgh. Still, our cat Buster helped me feel better. Not that he gave a shit I was leaving.

But, leaving I was. 5pm, I've taken the bins out and left some notes for Helen and it's time to get an Uber. Normally I would have used Mogul Cars to take me to Heathrow and they have never let me down, but for reasons I will never fully understand I chose to not use them but rather get an Uber to Heathrow. I guess it's because it enabled me to leave whenever I was ready rather than specifically at 5pm, but I was ready at 5pm anyway.

It was a mistake. Surge pricing is a load of cock and at rush hour on a Thursday they wanted 1.7x the usual, and of course I was captive to that price. I really didn't want to get the bus because being rush hour I expected traffic to be horrific. But I'm reasonably sure a bus driver wouldn't have almost knocked over a cyclist just yards from my house.

Heading to the A3, the driver asks if it's OK to take the A3 and M25 route. It's longer and thus more expensive, but quicker. I already was OK with this anyway but what I was less OK with was his overtaking people on the inside and generally making the ride unpleasant. I also was unimpressed with large chunks of the M25 being a fucking car park. Lastly, I didn't really appreciate paying SEVENTY FUCKING QUID to get to the fucking airport. I am never taking an Uber to Heathrow again. Even if I did learn that Frank Muir has a field name in memoriam.

The other thing that happend en route to the airport was a flurry of messages from Kayak telling me that my plane was delayed. Only by 15 minutes, like. I knew the plane was flying to Malaga and back before heading to Dublin, and it got there roughly on time but wasn't leaving on time.

By the time I've got to the First Wing at terminal 5 – where, given just how bedraggled I both look and feel, I'm fully expecting to get the "er, sorry, but this is only for First class passengers and gold card holders" treatment, but instead I get a smiley "welcome back sir!" – the delay is half an hour, as the lady behind the desk tells me. She also says there is good news: it will leave from a gate directly beneath the lounge.

Ah, the lounge. I do like me a good lounge, and I consider the BA First class lounge to be good. Straight on the champagne, I am instantly inundated with requests for boozer advice near Waterloo because apparently there is much train fail. Loz and I have a proper chinwag, as do Helen and I. Further alerts arrive, telling me my half hour delay is now an hour.

Hang on, I'm on the last plane to Dublin today. It apparently left Malaga then went back. What's going on? Oh, flightradar24 says they've swapped and now I'll be on something that's flying down from Edinburgh instead. And there's no way that hour delay is getting shorter. All my cohorts in Dublin are having a merry old time. I have another champagne, then make myself a giant plate of curry and fish cake and rice and stuff. C'mon freebies, help me out here.

While I eat I have a can of Tiger lager and it is disgusting. I guess they'd only just refilled and I got the warmest one available. Never mind, I can fix the fail by cracking on to the whiskey - yeah, with an E, an Irish whiskey in remote solidarity with those who have successfully made it to the start.


I mean, it's not like I was the only one with peril. 3 of them had Ryanair flights, whose Dublin-based pilots decided to stage a one day strike solely on the day they all needed to get to Dublin. But they had backup plans: Ed bought an insurance Vueling flight from Barcelona; Mark and John ended up taking their insurance train+ferry from the west country and Wales. I had no back up, and nothing was getting any earlier. Helen asked me if I might be going straight back home. Um, maybe?

I know what'll make me feel better: another champagne! By this time I'm already losing count, because I've necked all this stuff within the space of around 90 minutes, so I resort to hieroglyphics.

That last one is another can of Tiger, which was much better than the first. During it, boarding is finally announced. It's not at the gate beneath the lounge, it's at the fully opposite end of the terminal. Well bollocks you arseholes. I stagger down to gate A2 which is not yet boarding, but when it is there is a well-marshalled group system and being in Group 1 I am one of the first to board, but still hindered by a man who seems unable to figure out which row his row 1 ticket is for.

Sitting in seat 4A, immediately behind the curtain, I have instant envy. They had offered me an upgrade to business for £89 which was way too rich for me – doubly so after that SEVENTY FUCKING QUID cab ride, which I was still steaming about.

Anyway. I'm on a plane. We're going nowhere. Very nowhere. My 2035 departure is still hanging around at the gate at gone 2200. I was meant to have landed 5 minutes ago! Grr. Eventually we taxi past the pods, and finally we're in the air. Soon after the belt signs go off the buy-on-board service starts, and it's shitty. I ask for a beer, they tell me they're not selling beer just yet but only taking orders for hot food – which seemingly no-one wants. So then they come back for other orders and I still want a beer and she can't understand what beer it is I want even though I'm pointing at it on the page. It comes good after some to-and-fro, and I can put my headphones on for a podcast.

Oh crap. I brought my broken headphones, not my working ones. Not fully broken, but only one ear works. That's quite aggravating. God damn it. And seriously, am I going to be able to have a drink in Dublin? Rage!

The plane lands at 2305. Chances of having a drink are now pretty slim. There's no border to speak of so I'm landside very quickly, and getting €70 out when Lester phones me up. He wants to confirm that both our phones work in Ireland, so that I'm able to call him when I'm near the AirBnB. "It's gonna take you an hour", he says. I mean, I don't think it is. What's more, I'm loudly bitching about the possibility that no-one will be up to have a nightcap because "we're all zonked". "You brought this upon yourself!" I shout. "You invited me on this trip and I want a bloody drink!".

The phone call interruption is just long enough that I miss the 757 bus which would take me most of the way to the apartment. Google tells me the 703 will do the trick and there's one in two minutes; a man at a desk tells me to buy from the driver, which I do and we leave the second I'm sat down. The smooth soft rock sounds of some local radio station don't quite send me to sleep, not least because I'm engaged in conversation with Andrei. I think we can grab a drink, since he's still awake... but he's not staying at the AirBnB. Damn it!

20-odd minutes later I'm off the bus at Cardiff Lane, around the corner and standing outside the Water Gardens and calling Mark on the phone. Come get me, and stop me looking so victim-y on the street while the clock strikes midnight and the gangs of hoodies are emerging.

As Friday the 13th starts, Mark is sympathetic to my desire for a nightcap and prepares me a shot of vodka. With Ed and John sleeping, me and Mark chat quietly, mostly about the England football team's fine for wearing unauthorised socks. I have a second shot of vodka, then creep into the twin room where my bed is, trying simultaneously not to wake Ed who is in the other bed, and figure out in the dark which of my earphones is the working one so I can fall asleep to a podcast. It's about 1am, and there's a cab booked for 7am. Let's get this show on the rails.

Created By
Darren Foreman

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