Friday, September 08, 2006

The long and winding road

IT'S NO secret that I have a reputation for being a poor travelling. In fact all 86 guests at my wedding were told exactly how much of a poor traveller I am by my darling daddy during his father of the bride speech.

As some of you may be reading this over your morning turnover, I'll not go into details, suffice to say that between the ages of 5 and 15 I was not a welcome passenger in anyone's car.
Like a good wine however, I have improved with age and as things go I'm not all that bad these days. I can manage most short to medium length journeys without feeling queasy and it's been a fair few years since I found myself taking some Quells, just in case.
I guess I've learned my limitations. Boats are a big no-no, especially after a particularly horrible experience while on honeymoon in Tunisia. (The boat was fine, by the way, and I doubt we got above three miles an hour, but did that stop me crying and wanting to clamber over the side to escape? Not a chance!)
Airplanes are generally speaking okay. I'm not a fan of turbulence- but then again, who is? I'm all right when driving or taking short journeys through the town on the bus, but there is one journey which always fills my heart with dread and it's one that I absolutely have to complete within the next week.
The Derry to Dublin journey (and indeed the return leg) is my least favourite travel experience bar none. I don't say that lightly. I have spent eight hours on a crowded bus in the Sahara in degrees in excess of 40 Degrees Celsius and it was still more fun than those miserable four hours spent traipsing down the road to the big smoke.
My first experience of the delight that is Bus Eireann was in 1992 when I travelled to Dublin with my best friend for the weekend. We were both 16 and were off to stay with her big sister who was at college in Maynooth. (How were we to know the only single young men would be those destined for the priesthood?) We thought we were the proverbial bees knees as we loaded our rucksacks into the Derry bus and set off.
Four hours later, dizzy from being thrown from one end of the bus to the other on the bumpy roads and melting as the driver had the air conditioning set to 'Tropical Heatwave' we reached our destination (the salubrious surroundings of Bus Aras) and I was almost tempted to kiss the tarmac and thank God we were still one piece. (However kissing the tarmac would have left me too open to attack from the pick pockets the loud speakers in the bus centre constantly warn you about).

First taste of a hangover
Of course, what goes down must come up and sure as eggs are eggs, we had to get back on the bus and travel the winding, pot-holed roles back North two days later. Although I didn't drink back then, I'm sure the lurching of the bus gave me first taste of what a hangover felt like.
It was then I decided, as I queued for the toilets in the equally glamorous Monaghan bus stop, that I would never, ever, as long as I lived travel to Dublin again.
Life has a funny way of changing your mind however and when I started to date himself, who at the time was living in Wales, I found myself back on that bus on a regular basis- with the added bonus of a boat journey from Dun Laoghaire at either end.
I can't say I ever really had a positive experience. You either got a driver who was trying to set the world land speed record, or someone who was so laid back you could almost hear him snoring.
The bus was inevitably over crowded and stuffy and there was always a child who inevitably lost their patience just outside of Omagh and starting to screech, only letting up at Slane.
For the approach to the capital city, the roads were of dire quality and the only entertainment to be had was spotting the big houses on the hills and wondering if Bono lived in any of them.
Having taken a Quells to calm my stomach I also managed to spend most of these journeys horribly drowsy but afraid to nod off in case I snored.
Once I'd managed to persuade himself to give up live in Wales and move to Derry I made myself yet another vow that I would make my best efforts never to make the journey again. Once a month for 24 was enough of that journey for any sane person to take.
I've managed seven years, something I'm exceptionally proud of- but next week I have to travel to Bray for a meeting and it already fills my heart with dread.
I'm told the roads have improved greatly with the passing of the years. I'm promised that the journey now takes a mere three hours and some as opposed to the four hour trek of old. My mammy, God love her, has offered to drive. I'll probably stop by Boots for some Quells to be on the safe side and I still can't say I'm looking forward to it.
I wonder how much it would cost to charter a private jet?

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

Boats are the worst!!

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