jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 15 [13 Feb 09] – Dublin to London

Posted in Dublin, London by jn82 on February 14, 2009

Woke up at 5.30am this morning to call the BA ticket hotline, and asked for a refund instead of taking a much later flight into London. Since last minute ticket options with other carriers was out of the question due to cost, I decided to take the sail+rail option which I initially was considering when deciding how to get back to London from Dublin. The sail+rail is a combined ticket for both a ferry and a train ticket, and in this case it would bring us from Dublin Port to Holyhead (North Wales) via Irish Ferries, and then from Holyhead to London on Virgin Trains, with a total trip duration of around nine hours. While this might seem very long compared to the flight option which is only over an hour, it does save a lot of time traveling to and from airports, as well as the costs involved with these transfers, given that most train stations are located near city centres while airports are pretty far away.

Ticket

Ticket

The ferry we went on is called Ulysses, and the trip duration was from 8.05am – 11.40am when we arrived in Holyhead. It was a pretty smooth ride, with a slight fog along the way. I spent most of it planning the remainder of the trip, and managed to finish a tentative schedule till we reach St. Petersburg in mid-May (when the three month rail pass runs out).

On the observation deck leaving Dublin Port.
 

Deck 11

On the plebian deck.
Inside cabin

 

Ulysses unloading vehicles at Holyhead Port.
 

Ulysses

After a two hour and a bit stopover in which we managed to grab quite a bit of lunch, it was time to catch the 1.58pm VT4770 from Holyhead – London Euston. No internet on this train unfortunately, however unlike the London – Edinburgh train, this one was pretty empty and I managed to get two seats to myself, good for a three hour and fourty minute ride. The windows in coach were very dirty and I could not enjoy the view out them.

VT4770 on Platform 1 at Holyhead.
 

Holyhead Platform 1

My “workspace” on the train, coach C seats 47 and 48, facing backwards as the train moves.
 

Seat

Coach seats beside mine (same configuration).
 

Coach seats

Upon arrival in London just before 6pm, we scurried to Leicester Square with our full load backpacks to try and get tickets for either later evening shows for Chicago, Taming of the Shrew or Oliver. Going to one of the “discount ticket” outlets, we ended up paying £36.50 for upper circle tickets for Chicago with a face value of only £30.00 (probably because these two tickets were part of the last three available seats for the show, or for the ticket seller’s allocation for the show). Pretty expensive and not discounted, yes, but it was Friday night afterall and much cheaper what we would pay to watch in Singapore. How often are you in London’s West End anyway right?

After getting tickets for the 8.30pm show, we flew back to the hostel to check in, dump out bags and have dinner, before heading back to Leicester Square to catch Chicago!

Discount of -£6.50.

Chicago ticket

Cambridge Theatre, Earlham St.

Cambridge theatre

Made it to the 8.30pm show with enough time for pictures!

Me

Link to full gallery of today’s pictures available here.

Day 14 [12 Feb 09] – Dublin

Posted in Dublin by jn82 on February 12, 2009

Today marks two weeks since I have left Singapore. Having a pretty good time so far, and not sick of eating out every meal yet.

We went with neweuropetour’s free New Dublin walking tour this morning (same company which did the Edinburgh one we went on two days ago). Today’s guide Rob started with an informative brief history of the Republic of Ireland from the B.C. period to modern day. The walking tour itself lasted three h0urs and we saw most of the tourist sights as well as historical sites within the city centre. The explanations about each site and historical information provided by Rob was very good and detailed, and we managed to learn quite a bit about Ireland in just three hours.

The only structure left of the original Dublin Castle.

Dublin castle

Coach House, Dublin Castle.

Coach House

Blueprints of a Viking’s house (stone outlines).

Blueprints

The Dublin Spire, a 120m high pin-like monument in the heart of the city.

Spire

The rest of the day after lunch was spent at Dublinia, a few exhibitions which explores the life of medieval city and the world of the Vikings. It was not as interesting as I expected, but we got a combined ticket for entry with yesterday’s Christ Church Cathedral entry ticket.

Not very pleased with Dublin.

Angry

Had a pretty short day today and an early dinner, because I wanted to do some planning for the rest of the trip as well as have a rest given the early morning flight back to London tomorrow.

Link to full gallery of today’s pictures available here.

*Edit at 10.30pm: at 8.30pm tonight, British Airways (BA) decided to cancel our 8.50am flight (arrival 10+am) to London from Dublin tomorrow morning, when both Irish and English BA phone hotlines close at 8.00pm!! We cannot rebook our tickets online and have to wait till 6.00am tomorrow to call the phone hotline to try and rebook to the later flight. Even getting a refund and making up the difference will leave us at least €100 out of pocket as that is what the cheapest last minute tickets by other carriers are going for. Guess it will be a wasted day as the earliest other BA flight only gets into London at 1.35pm. Would have expected this from a budget carrier, but not from a full service one such as BA. Guess that in such a economic climate, last minute cancellations for low passenger flights is an option the airline is willing to take, even though this experience has made me decide not to fly BA again.

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Day 13 [11 Feb 09] – Dublin

Posted in Dublin by jn82 on February 12, 2009

Reached Edinburgh airport at 7am for our 8am Ryanair flight to Dublin, only to be notified just prior to check in that the flight had been delayed till 9.45am. After sitting down and ordering breakfast at the cafe, an announcement came on at 7.15am informing us that the flight was back on schedule and would be boarding shortly. So we just had a short 15 minutes to get our food and finish it before boarding.

The flight itself was noting to write home about. Ryanair is the low cost carrier which revolutionised budget travel from the UK and within the EU, and is usually extremely good value for money if you can pick up good fare deals. However our ticket was a regular priced one, and we had to pay extra for checked luggage (which also meant no online check in), as well as hustle for our seats on the plane as they were on a first come first serve basis. On the whole I would say budget air travel out of Singapore is much better with Jetstar, based on this one experience.

The flight today would be FR813 in a Boeing 737-800, flight time one hour.

As you can see it looks very cheap.

Cabin

EI-DLW, a Boeing 737-800.

Rego

Ryanair livery.

Ryanair

After dropping our bags at the hostel, we went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, n illuminated manuscript in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It is regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. Trinity College, like Melbourne University, is a city campus and right at the top of Grafton Street, one of the main shopping areas in Dublin. It is a pretty decent campus, although we did not explore around much. Pretty disappointed when we reached the Book of Kells exhibit because they were only displaying a fine art replica until later in the year. Nonetheless there were many display boards explaining the origins and meanings behind the art work and text in the B0ok of Kells.

Trinity College. 

Trinity College

Outside the Book of Kells exhibit.

Outside the exhibit

Only a fine art replacement, and no photography!

Disappointment

After this and some overpriced lunch (everything is so expensive in Dublin), we decided to head over to Christ Church Cathedral, a cathedral which has been around on that piece of land since the 11th century (although not the same building). Read the wikipedia page for a very detailed write up of the cathedral.

Front of the cathedral.

Cathedral front

Cathedral

Inside the sanctuary.

Sanctuary

After the chapel, it was too late to go to the Dublinia exhibition (see tomorrow’s post), so we decided to end the afternoon off at the Guinness Storehouse, the largest and first place Guinness stout was brewed. One of the most interesting things about the location is that Arthur Guinness actually signed a 9,000 year lease on St. James Gate Brewery for then £45 a year. The tour comprised of the history of Guinness as well as the production process for stout, and ended with a free pint of Guinness Drought!

Guinness @ St. James Gate Brewery.

Guinness sign

The man himself, Arthur Guinness.

Arthur Guinness

DIY pour your own pint.

DIY Guinness

Went back to check into the hostel (Camden Place Hostel) afterward, and had a quick dinner. This hostel is extremely new and great value for what you pay (a slightly longer walk from the city centre, but not a big deal). Much better than the previous two hostels we stayed at in London and Edinburgh.

Link to full gallery of today’s pictures available here.