Monday, August 22, 2005

Spreading Italian

DURING my recent time off, I went to Belfast for the night and took a Bus Eireann coach at the very reasonable price of €12.

View from the bus

The ticket used to be €25 but Bus Eireann was forced to recently halve the price because a private operator started servicing the same route with an hourly bus.

While I prefer the train, who doesn’t, I do not prefer to spend nearly €50 in addition to whatever the young wan’s ticket would cost.

Besides which, you can never guarantee whether or not you’ll be bused between trains stations which is a complete pain in the arse and adds ages to the journey time.

While you miss the amazing views from the train stretching from outside Dublin right up to Portadown, (at which point it turns suburban) often you are better off just getting the bus. And now with the new bargain price and brand new road to Belfast, it’s even more desirable.

Or so I thought.

On the way up, we were caught up in the most awful traffic in Dundalk due to roadworks, I think it took us an hour to get through the traffic. So while we reasonably should have expected to arrive into Belfast at 6.30ish having left Dublin at 4, we didn’t arrive in until 7.45pm.

It’s only one hundred miles to Dublin and with the opening of the new road; the time it takes to drive up has been reduced drastically, well normally that is. And you also get to see the snazzy new bridge at Drogheda which looks stunning at night, rather like a space ship landing.

While the extra time was annoying, at least for the first time, the express was actually an express in the way I believe it to be and drove straight to Belfast without stopping.

The way home was a different story.

I phoned to check the times and decided to opt for the 4pm home. I asked was it an express and was told that it was. Fantastic.

We caught the bus with Dublin Express written on the side with moments to spare.

Trawling up the bus there were no double seats left. There were many single ones all throughout the bus and then I realised that the nine or so Italians all taking up a double seat individually were actually together but not seating together.

That’s okay, if there’s four or five, but to take up so many seats in that way is just a bollox.

Selfish bastards.

And along the back seat, there was an Italian couple who were also part of this group.

He, in the manner of men everywhere, spread himself over about four seats, so I just stood in front of him until he moved and allowed me and my daughter to take the last two seats (together) on the bus.

We hadn’t even left Belfast before he was falling asleep and moving slowly and uncomfortably close to me.

Down and down his head moved to my shoulder, despite trying to ignore it I could feel and sense my personal space being completely violated.

So as his head inched closer and closer to my shoulder I placed my freezing cold bottle of water against his arm, which was at the this point practically around my waist.

He didn’t even budge, flinch, waken.

I started giving little but violent shakes of my shoulder and he didn’t budge and I am starting to get really peeved off, the young wan laughs heartily thinking this is an absolute geg.

Then his girlfriend who was the whole time reading a magazine noticed and hauled him unceremoniously by the neck over to her.

But that wasn’t the end of the nightmare journey, we weren’t even outside Belfast at this point.

Views from along the new road

This brings me to the term ‘Express’. The bus normally stops at Newry, Dundalk, Drogheda and then onto Dublin, the express goes straight stopping nowhere, well that’s the theory.

So this express stopped at Sprucefield (a shopping centre about 10 miles outside Belfast), Banbridge (a small town about 25 milesish outside Belfast) and then Newry.

Can someone explain to me how that qualifies as an express and it is even more frustrating as I have never seen anyone get picked up at Sprucefield or Banbridge.

This particular bus journey was absolutely boiling, there was no air conditioning on the bus and the temperature felt about 30c and the Italian started to spread out.

Spreading Italian
Spreading Italian

By the time we were coming into Dublin he was lying over three seats, over his girlfriend and over me.

Spreading Italian 2
Spreading even more Italian

Maybe I should have taken the train…

Inside nature
Beside the new toll booth

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