Did I ever tell you about the time I accidentally got lost on a 1 hour bus ride in Ireland? No? Well, let me set the stage..
I’m with a friend on day 9 & 10 of our England/Ireland adventure. By now, we’ve been to London, Bath, and have driven all over Ireland from Cork to Dingle, up to Ennis, and clear across to Dublin. It had been a long trip, with days full of things to do, places to see, and doughnuts to eat. (seriously, always eat the doughnuts in a foreign country.)
We arrive at our Airbnb right on the outskirts of the Dublin city center and, by recommendation of our hostess, take a bus into the city. We enjoy a long day of walking around Dublin, stopping at a few small markets and eating our weight in fruit and cheese boards. Nothing says I feel fancier than I look, than ordering a massive wooden board of cheese, grapes, and carbs.
On our way back to the bus stop, we detour to The Rolling Doughnut (at this point, our doughnut obsession is a full blown addiction.) We order our doughnuts and hastily wait in the night time drizzle to board our bus. Plans of getting into bed with the doughnut bag safely tucked between us dance in our heads as we tell the driver our desired stop and pay the fare. The bus picks up a few more passengers before heading north, meandering out of the city center.
Here is where things start to go wrong. We go by stop, after stop, after stop, and I am not seeing or hearing our stop being called out. This far into the trip, we had suffered from a few “wrong way” bus rides, (totally by my own fault) but I had learned my lesson. I knew I was in a foreign country and I HAD to pay attention to the stops. What made this task easier was the electronic screen that rolled the names of each stop across it’s face. I watched, and listened for the driver but our stop was never called.
Fast forward to an hour bus ride later, and the only souls to be found in the cabin are ours and an inebriated local’s.
The driver pulls over, calls a “LAST STOP. EVERYBODY OFF,” and my stomach drops.
I try to tell him that our stop never came up, that he missed it, that there was a mistake made but he wouldn’t hear it and forced us off the bus. Now, it’s about 12:30 am and here we are, in the dark, across from what looks like closed a bar. Neither of us have international phone plans, our hostess is out for the night, and we have no clue where we are.
The driver must have seen the looks on our faces and had a change of heart.
In a soft Irish accent, “ C’mon, I’ll take you down to where you can catch a cab.”
We thank him profusely and suffer a completely silent bus ride for another 15 minutes before he musters up the courage to say that sometimes a stop or two will be passed or won’t show up on the screen..hinting at the idea that maybe we weren’t the one’s to blame for our current situation. He pulls into the bus dock, and asks us again where we are trying to get to. We tell him the address our our Airbnb, and he informs us that it is only about a 10-15 minute walk down the road. In trust, we begin walking in the direction that he points.
Guess what…it wasn’t a 10 minute walk. It was a 40 MINUTE WALK. In the rain, at 1 a.m., down a road I didn’t know, in a town I didn’t know, in a country I didn’t know. And let me tell you, I struggled. I struggled so hard through that walk because I was so physically and mentally defeated from the day and the events leading up to that moment. The weight of the doughnuts pulled at the twine handles around my wrist with Every. Rain-soaked. Step.
Sparing you the self-loathing and end-of-life visions I was having, we did in fact make it back to our airbnb around 1:20 in the morning. And let this be known, that this was the only time we DID NOT EAT THE DOUGHNUTS. We stripped off the wet clothing, warmed our hands and faces with hot towels and immediately got in bed, making light conversation about what had just transpired before getting the best night’s sleep I have ever had.
So, what did I learn?
Well, I learned that public transportation is still not my strong suit when it comes to traveling. I learned that even though you could do everything right, and pay close attention to details, something completely out of your control can make any plan go awry. I learned that just because someone is local, doesn’t mean they have all the right answers (but it won’t stop me from asking!) And I learned that doughnuts store really well overnight in paper bags and taste even better when had for breakfast after a long, long night.
Being a recovering control freak, I believe this is one of the pivotal moments of my travel education. I did everything I needed to, but something still went wrong and it was completely out of my control. I had to face the problem head on, in the moment instead of trying every which way to avoid it. I now answer every prompted “what if..” with, “I’ll be able to figure it out.” And that makes my planning and travels so much more enjoyable.