Thursday, July 20, 2017

Canada to Ireland

The worst part of any great trip is the air travel. Being squished like a sardine for hours on end, shoulder strain from heavy carry on bags, expensive airport food, dreadful on board food that you eat anyway because it breaks up the time, the balancing act between staying hydrated and not having to go to those disgusting toilets too many times, running between connections or twiddling your thumbs in boarding lounges where there aren’t enough phone charge ports, arguments about window seats and aisle seats (and then ending up as the piggy in the middle), not to mention puffy ankles, sore ears and stuffy noses! Surely someone will invent teleporting soon – I’m afraid it just won’t be soon enough for me.

We filled our last morning in Canada driving back to Montreal and up Mont Royal, the site of the original First Nations’ city of Hochelaga and the site where the peace treaty ending 100 years of war between the French/ Hurons and Alonquians and the English/Iroquois was signed in 1701. With its magnificent vantage point you can see why the Huron chose it as a fortressed camp. When the first Europeans arrived in 1535, there were more than 200 long houses within the walls. Again, I was struck by the fact that we were in Quebec for the 150th celebrations and yet clearly there have been inhabitants of the land here for thousands of years.

On a clear day the view from Mont Royal must be magnificent. This day was very smoggy but the greenery of the parklands surrounding the citadel made up for the lack of city view. We admired the view, read the history, wandered in the woods for a bit and then had an iced coffee ( which turned out to be hot coffee with ice cream in it!) before setting off to the airport.

It was Taine’s 14th birthday so he was allowed to choose the food all day. All he really wanted was Tim Hortons (he’s become addicted to Timbits- little balls of donutty goodness that sell for 10 for $2.90). Unfortunately, although there seems to be a Tim Hortons on every corner in Canada, there were none of the road to the airport so Timbits will have to wait for another trip.
Taine's birthday dinner
We returned our rental unscathed (always a feeling of relief) and boarded the first leg of our trip to Ireland, a Swiss Air flight to Zurich. Our seats (pre chosen) were at the back of the plane but in a configuration of just 3 behind the normal rows of 4 in the middle. This afforded us some welcome extra leg room, especially for the two on the aisle (not so much for middle piggy me!). The food was pretty good and there were three rounds of the drinks cart – always a bonus, but the seats were really hard and not conducive to sleep at all. Consequently, by the time we reached Zurich it was 6am and we had been awake since 7 the day before. We were restricted to gates D for some reason and nothing was open so we couldn’t even waste money on Swiss chocolate. The 3 hour layover was first world torturous but eventually we got onto the short hop plane to Dublin and pretty much snored for 90 minutes.

In Dublin the LEAP transport Visitor’s Card gives you 3 days of travel on buses, trams and trains for 19.50 Euro. This included transport to and from the airport to the city so was well and truly worth the cost.

We’re staying at the cutest hostel you’ve ever seen. Dublin is a very expensive city and I spent a long time searching for something to fit our budget. I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon Tipperary House but at 80 E a night for a room that sleeps 4 and has its own bathroom AND breakfast, pretty much in the centre of the city, its about a 1/3 of the price of anything else available. I was a bit dubious but the trip advisor reviews were good and luckily they were right. Our room is at the very top of the lovely, old boarding house- up 3 flights of tiny wooden stairs- luckily I had a couple of strong men to get my luggage up the stairs! We have a double bed and bunks, a TV and a window that opens. Its only 200 metres to Heuston Station and within walking distance of the Guiness Storehouse. Who could ask for more?

Home away from home

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