Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Planes, trains, (BART and DART) and other stuff

Camp Connell, CA -- A trip of 15,000 miles did not actually start with a single step. Rather, it started with an Oakland taxi that never showed up.
In the next few days I'll post blogs on the highlights of the two-week trip Pat and I made to Ireland and Scotland, mostly for pleasure, but first a quick review of transit systems required for the journey.
It's not easy to get from Camp Connell, high in the mountains of California, to Dublin, Ireland, the first stop on our trip, but we did a lot of planning.
On a Friday we dropped off refrigerator contents in Murphys at the home of our daughter Ruth and family, and then drove the three hour trip to our boat which is docked at the Oakland estuary.
We went to San Francisco early -- on Saturday -- to spend some time with my former brother-in-law who was in San Francisco for a visit, and then spent the night aboard s/v Good News at the Oakland Yacht Club in Alameda. We had plenty of time, including a dinner with sailing friends Dan and Lorraine Olsen, so on Sunday we arranged for a cab to pick us up to take us to BART, the rapid transit train, to avoid parking fees at the airport.
The promised cab never showed. We called when he was ten minutes late, and he called back once to say he was lost. Pat gave him directions, as he was only a block or two away. Then he never showed, or called.
After a frustrating wait, we got another cab to the rapid transit station in Oakland. On the BART station platform we were entertained by teenagers dropping F-Bombs, strutting around in a mildly threatening way, singing and what may have been dancing. We decided it was more curious than threatening, though some of the folks waiting on the platform were clearly nervous and averting their eyes and watching for security to show up. Never did. One Oakland resident observed "Somebody's going to kick their ass if they keep that up," but no one did.
The train showed up on time, and other than another parade by the same youngsters seeking more attention waltzing through the cars, the trip was uneventful.
The highlight of the San Francisco Airport was buying a snack, $30 worth, to get us to Europe.
We flew United Airlines from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany, thanks to frequent flier points collected through the years. We took a modified polar route.
Lacking the points to go business class, we flew for about 12 hours in what I think is called cattle car class, 370 or so people jammed into "economy" seats designed for skinny 13-year-olds. I would have taken pictures but I could not get my arms free to raise them up with a camera. No wonder people die of blood clots on airplanes.
At one point I noticed we had a tail wind of 110 miles per hour, pushing our ground speed over 660 mph. We could see nothing outside, but the miniature map six inches in front of our face was interesting.
We got a free meal of some not quite recognizable glutenous mass, and had some sleep as we flew over Hudson Bay, Greenland and Iceland, and -- of course -- our destination Dublin. We flew over Dublin because United does not stop there.
Things got better in Germany. The airport was clean and efficiently laid out, and the flight on Lufthansa to Dublin was fairly quick and easy. The seats were even big enough for an adult human.
About 18 hours after we climbed aboard the taxi in California, we were in the Dublin Airport trading dollars for Euros, not a happy transaction, and looking for one Patton Flyer bus among many that would take us downtown to a train station for the final ride to our bed and breakfast in a suburb south of the city. We started the day on BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, and ended it on DART, Dublin Area Rapid Transit.
Our last trip of the day was a short walk to the neighborhood pub where we had a pint and dinner in the bar, before turning in Monday night.
The first part of our trip required seven links. I'll get around to the ferry later. That's enough for now.

On the DART in Dublin, Ireland

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