Traveling Abroad (Two) — May, 2013

Friday, May 24, found Domer and me up early, taking turns foraging for food and accommodations again.

Kind of like being on a deserted island.

We learned there were hotels, but they were way more expensive than we wanted to pay. And there were bed-and-breakfasts. But nothing mid-range with vacancies.

Somewhere along the line, the subject of bailing came up. I honestly don’t know whose idea it was, but we figured at this rate, it was going to cost almost as much to pay the cancellation fees and go home early as it would sticking it out for the week.

Hmm.

At last, we found what looked like a lovely hotel, and we booked the next four nights at a reasonable rate (thanks, Expedia!). Checking out of the guest house, we followed directions to the bus stop.

Little did we know one has to HAIL a bus, the way you hail a taxi.

After several buses went by, we noticed people signaling for the one they wanted, so we did, too. Only we were at the wrong bus stop!

Another thing — Irish buses have no signage, meaning you really don’t know where you are, when you should get off (and whether the neighborhood you’re waiting in is sketchy or not). Oh, and the drivers don’t make change. If you’re told the fare is 2.35 in Euros and you drop 2.50 in the slot, tough luck!

An hour’s ride later — at least we were able to see some of the scenic countryside — we arrived at the hotel and checked in.

Relieved to be “settled” for the next few days, we decided to eat lunch. Surprise, our hotel offered a meal on site — woo hoo! — and we enjoyed club sandwiches with tortilla chips. Still eager to look around, we returned to our room to research travel options.

Uh-oh, the news wasn’t good. It was going to take an hour each way on the bus, or mucho Euros in taxi fares, to get back to civilization.

No wonder the staff seemed so accommodating. They were stuck in the middle of nowhere and knew it.

The idea of cutting our losses grew. Feeling frustrated at not having toured the first thing, not having taken a single picture, and afraid Ireland had seen us coming with a money tree in tow, we looked seriously into the possibility of catching an early flight home.

There was one on Saturday, and we grabbed it.

We cancelled our hotel stay after that one night, booked a taxi (Cha-ching) for the ride to the airport, and dined on pizza for dinner.

Lingering doubts over our decision evaporated during our noisy night. A group of teens staying there on break from school raced up and down the hotel’s hallways, banging on doors and phoning random rooms to find their friends much of the night.

Can it get any worse, I wondered.

Join me tomorrow to see.

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18 thoughts on “Traveling Abroad (Two) — May, 2013

  1. OMG Debbie, this story just keeps getting more and more intriguing!

    “Little did we know one has to HAIL a bus, the way you hail a taxi.”

    You kidding?!?!?

    However, here in Philly the buses don’t make change either. If the fare is $2.50 and you place a $5.00 bill into the machine, you get NO change back. That’s why if I have to travel a distance, I will opt for the subway because they DO give change.

    Yup, I think I were you and husband, I too would have just thrown in the towel and came home.

    So looking forward to reading more!

    • My little town doesn’t offer public transit via buses, Ron, so no way would I have known that. I guess we’re “country hicks,” ha! Domer and I went to Chicago and rode on buses,but we had a multi-day pass, solving the every-single-time-you-ride-payment issue. Much better, I think.
      Also, just to be clear, this trip was just me and my son Domer. Husband is actually “ex,” and he didn’t have any part in it! But I’m glad to learn you don’t fault me for tossing in the towel. Sometimes bad luck can turn around, but other times, you have to know when to fold your cards!

  2. Oh no! Just as I was about to say that being out of our usual customs and culture and “ways of doing things” is so good for us – I see it wasn’t so good. I’m hoping this story takes a turn and something glorious and redeeming happened so that you were able to stay. (?)

    I’ll stay tuned. ;)

  3. Debbie, I’ve lived in New York, Seattle, Washington DC and San Diego. No where have I seen a bus driver that makes change. You have to have exact change or suffer the consequences. Last summer, I went to Europe. I had an awful experience with the hotel in Prague, and thought about leaving as that was the last leg of our trip. But thank heavens I didn’t. I stuck it out, fought with the hotel management, called the travel agent in the states to straighten the problem and absolutely enjoyed Prague. I will say that, as Americans, we are used to a higher level of service and it can get frustrating when we don’t receive it, which happened throughout my trip. Like no AC in most hotels we stayed at. And paying for a tour that turned out to be a wretched bust.

    But, my daughter and our traveling companion were much more calm than me, and I left it to them most of the time to figure things out. It ended up being a very memorable trip. Got lots of photos to prove it! I’m sorry you weren’t able to stay. The way I see it, most of the time, I can’t afford Europe, so when I go (twice so far, in the last 7 years), you better believe I’m going to do all I can to stay and take advantage of being there. It’s just a matter of overcoming the challenges. OMG, don’t even get me started on the trains and how one broke down, and absolutely no one is available to help you with getting your luggage on and off the train. Sigh.

    • I think our level of frustration was a lot lower than yours, Monica. I blame it on jet lag and the stress of graduation. Perhaps if I’d known ahead of time to expect the unexpected and deal with it, to rely on each other’s strengths and encouragement, to roll with the punches, we might not have been so quick to bail.
      I also think both Domer and I tend to be really frugal, expecting to stretch our dollars and get the best value possible for them. When we saw ourselves throwing money away — like on taxis — and not getting good bang for the buck, we just decided we’d rather go home than fight it. Sometimes things start bad and end good; other times, they start bad and get worse. We assumed that’s what was going to happen.

  4. Oh, Debbie, I can relate! I know the “hailing of the bus” story too well. It happened to me when I first got here too! Who would’ve known, right? I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t get worse! The too good to be true hotels and hostals usually are, my friend. I’m off to read part 3! :)

    • Bella, I appreciate your coming along for the ride — and I’m glad to hear I wasn’t acting like someone who fell off a turnip truck! Nobody told us those things, and there were so many of them that we almost felt like we’d landed on Mars, ha!

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