Suddenly, almost abruptly, the adventure is over. For over two weeks I’ve been pedalling ever nearer to Galway. On the final day of any real cycling, I did an urban wild camp in Galway city, close to the banks of Lough Atalia, and not overly far from the Eye Cinema.
The getting home part
I was up early – too early, in fact – as I didn’t want to miss my train back to Dublin. I didn’t realise it at the time when I booked my train tickets, but on the same day, Galway was playing Dublin in a game of hurling, and that meant lots of Galway fans were also taking the train to Dublin. This meant the train was busy, but far from overcrowded. I was surprised when they announced, halfway into the journey, tha they laid on additional coaches to Dublin. Passengers were given the option of leaving the train and get on a coach instead.
If you’re not familiar with hurling as a sport, you really should watch a game. There’s some incredible skills involved, and effectively every player carries a bat-like implement, called a hurl. Given the size of the hurls, and the intensity of the game, it’s incredible the game doesn’t have many injured players each time it’s played!
Once in Dublin, I had a reservation in a hostel. After checking in, I met the incredible I Bike Dublin bunch once more for a chat over some drinks. Knowing the following day was going to be extremely long, I had a very early night.
Hostels aren’t places where you’ll have the best night’s rest, and I was awoken many times, both by others sharing the same dormitory, by others in the building, and by a lot of shouting outside. By 04h00 I had enough and got up.
After securing everything back on my bike, I checked out and cycled to Dublin Port. A highlight of that ride was when an urban fox ever so casually came trotting by, in the opposite direction. Of course, I arrived too early for checking in with the ferries, and had to wait a while.
By 05h30, check-in opened, and soon after I was in the Departures Lounge. The room gradually filled up, and we were transferred by bus onto the ship – foot passengers aren’t allowed to walk on, and cyclists need to check their bikes in as luggage, then be treated as foot passengers.
The Irish Sea
My second-only sea voyage was as boring as the first one. We had fantastic weather, and a very calm crossing. It’s still a boring journey though, as all you have to look at was sea and sky.
I was glad when Holyhead came into view, and not overly long after, the ship was docked and we were bused to the terminal.
Back in the UK
I went for a bike ride once in Holyhead, out along the breakwater. Holyhead is a town that’s seen better days, and ferry traffic dropped by over 30% since Brexit. That’s a substantial difference!
I was struck by the high number of charity shops, and empty shops that have come to be signature features of British high streets. Oh, and the very noticeable increase in litter!
Before long, it was time to board my train from Holyhead to Newport. That’s a 4.5 hour train journey and the train started getting busier and busier. Soon, there were many people standing, and I remembered the far-less crowded train to Dublin having supplemental buses laid on. The UK can learn a lot about rail provision from Ireland!
The train from Holyhead was running slightly late, and I was concerned about not making my connecting train. The train manager was brilliant, and after I spoke to her about it, she kept giving me updates, and assured me the other train would be delayed (by 2 minutes!) to allow us to jump across.
I just made it onto that last train to Plymouth. It wasn’t crowded at all, and an uneventful journey followed. Finally, at 22h45, I arrived in Plymouth, and home an hour later. That meant I was up for, and travelling for almost 20 hours.
I’m still tired from my adventure, and the journey back home. More importantly, I need time to digest it all. Of course, it’s also back to reality, and the routine of everyday life. That I’m going to struggle with for some time. That, and the usual dose of post-adventure blues.