Planning ahead is for sissies

Trip Start Nov 08, 2004
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Trip End Aug 10, 2005


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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Monday, November 15, 2004

The day began normally enough - I had decided that I wanted to go to Stonehenge, since today is my last day in England before I head off to Ireland. I found some brochures, and saw that three different tour operators left from the same area in Bath for Stonehenge between 1:30 and 2:00. I wandered around town and had some lunch (my newest discovery is the Cornish pastry - it's a puffed pastry stuffed with meat and/or veggies, kind of like a Hot Pocket but not gross, and only 1.50 GBP!), then stood around waiting for the minibus to Stonehenge.

The first one arrived, but required reservations and was all sold out. The second one came half and hour later, and the driver said he wasn't planning on making another trip today, but if a few other people came along he would make the 3+ hour drive. As we waited for some more passengers (none ever came), we got to talking, and we had a nice chat about Bath and Killarney, my next destination. After a half hour or so we parted ways, and I decided today would be a good drinking day (my first since I left for this trip).

Before getting lit, I decided it would be a good time to check the train schedules for the journey to Ireland, and it's a good thing I did. I went to the customer information booth and told the guy behind the counter that I needed to get to Killarney in the morning, so I needed to know what trains to take to get to the ferry crossing at Fishguard in Wales. I was surprised and shocked to hear that there are only two ferry crossings a day, one at 2:30 pm and one at 2:30 am. The information guy was very helpful and wrote down what trains I'd need to catch, starting with the train out of Bath at 9:25 am.

As I walked back from the station to the hostel, I realized that I may not make it to Killarney by Monday night, and I had already reserved three nights at a hostel there. I went to the internet terminal in the hostel "Chill Out Room" and checked - sure enough, the ferry crossing is about 5 hours, and a train from Rosslare, Ireland, to Killarney is at least 5 hours, and the last train is at 1:30 pm, so I obviously can't make it in time. I reserved another hostel in Rosslare for one night, and sent an email to change the Killarney reservation - still haven't heard back, but hopefully it will all work out.

I decided that the matter was now in the hands of fate, so I might as well go down to the bar and get tanked. I figured I'd have a few pints, then go upstairs and pack for the next day's trip. When I got inside the bar, there was a soccer game on - okay, a "football" game - and nowhere to sit, so I stood in the back and watched the TV as if I cared about what was going on. After someone missed a goal, the man in front of me turned around to make a comment, and I let him know that I don't watch football (I almost called it soccer), and he went back to his game. After a moment he turned around and asked where I'm from, so I told him and we began to talk about my trip. We chatted for a little while over a few pints, and just as he was ranting about how foreigners shouldn't be allowed to come into the country to work unless they speak English, a group of 6 Polish guys appear out of nowhere and establish themselves right behind us. I was hoping they hadn't heard his remarks - a fight with a a bunch of Poles in an English pub isn't on my list of things to do on this trip!

The one Pole who spoke half-decent English started up a conversation, and then suddenly one of his friends shows up with vodka shots for everyone. The Englishman (David) and I accepted the shots and we all had a nice chat in broken English, and the shots kept coming. David was already half-pissed before the Poles showed up (he was actually finishing his second pint of hard cider and getting ready to leave), so after the shots he was pretty tanked. I'm a seasoned drinker, though, so I was still okay, but really enjoying the weirdness of the whole thing. The Poles left after six shots, and David was ready to spend the night drinking instead of going home for dinner.

We stumbled through Bath from pub to pub, getting a pint in each before moving on. There's one thing to note here - in England the pubs close at midnight, so people tend to start drinking in the late afternoon. By 7:00 there are already drunks in the streets. Things get pretty loud in Bath - there's a university in town, and the drinking age is 18, so I'm sure you can imagine the results. Anyway, David's last bus was at 10:30, and by 10:00 we were about done drinking for the night.

I left him at the train station and went back to the hostel. Luckily the bar downstairs was closed (preventing me from drinking all night long), so I figured I could get to bed at a decent hour and wake up refreshed for my 9:25 train. Just as I finished packing up my bag, my roommate walked in, also a little bit tipsy, and gave me a bottle of beer. We ended up hanging out the bedroom window, drinking and smoking for hours. It was after 1:00 am by the time I got to bed, and the next morning wasn't very pleasant.
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