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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stansted to Split (How NOT to travel.....)

I had planned well. I had managed to get a week's worth of clothing and shoes (YES, SHOES) into carry-on luggage. Under 12kg. That, I'm sure ladies will agree, is probably an unsurpassed feat. But my shining moment was about to be clouded over...how? By me, of course.

The alarm went off at 4am. I had gotten back to the hotel at 1.15am. We all do it, don't we? We tell ourselves - "It'll be fine, I'm going on holidays, I'll sleep on the plane,. Then, feeling god-awful, we drag ourselves into the shower and get ready. It was bloody freezing that morning, I was so glad to be leaving the U.K, although the forecast for Split wasn't great. Rain. Typical. I leave Ireland, experiencing a heatwave for the first time since 1995, to go on a cruise in Croatia - and RAIN is predicted. Of course I haven't a single thing packed for inclement weather. Why would I? That 11.5kgs didn't allow for it!

I got to Stansted and Katherine was already at the gate. I hadn't even met Katherine yet and she must've already thought I was a bit scatty, arriving about an hour before my flight. Whilst passing through security I was stopped, I had "too many items" in my plastic liquid bag. So it had to be repacked. A very kindly American girl offered to take the extras through for me but the snotty security said no. So I relinquished shower cream, hand sanitiser and toothpaste, hoping Sarah (my room mate to be) would have these. I then scurried to Boots, to pick up other items I needed, where the queues were literally winding down the aisles out onto the public area. Only at the cashier did I realise that I was sans boarding pass and I heard my name "Would Caitriona McBride please return to the security area?". Now what would Katherine think of me? She was texting saying that the flight was boarding and I was wondering if there was food near the gate? I managed to reach there for final call, clutching a brie and bacon wrap and feeling rather pleased with myself. Katherine looked rather worried and we barely had time for introductions before we had to take our separate seats (we didn't find out in time about each other in order to snag seats together - and changes on Easyjet aren't cheap!). Somewhere between Security and Boarding I had managed to take a Xanax so it was lights out for me before we even ascended.

At Split airport I felt much more refreshed and found Katherine, apologising for my earlier tardiness and general scattiness. I was proud to show off my carry-on but rather jealous of her suitcase, probably packed with goodies I couldn't bring on with me. We wandered around in the sunshine (for now!) looking for a bus and eventually were directed towards one which we were assured would get us to the port. We were straight on the texts, alerting Louise and Sarah that we'd arrived and would be seeing them soon. We settled in on the bus and pondered on the week to come, psyching ourselves up for the late nights and crazy drinking and praying our boat would be nice. We needn't have worried. Below is what awaited us at Split port....

Friday, June 21, 2013

My extended absence

As most of you know, this blog was started to chronicle a brilliant whirlwind tour of Ireland and the UK in the summer of 2012. My original intentions were to write at the end of each day or two, but we all know how that goes (in the pub, I'll have another, will you have one yourself? You will!). It also happened to include some of the best days of a relationship I had, with the famous Gareth (who readers will be very familiar with, and others know in person). Unfortunately at the end of September last year that relationship came to an end, but the blog had become something more to me then and I decided to keep up with it, particularly as I had some exciting trips planned.

As life and travel continued to get in the way my posts became more sporadic. At the beginning of 2013 I was in a different headspace and I wasn't sure if I could concentrate on looking back to the time Gareth and I had spent together anymore. By this point I had also been commissioned to write a book, on a very different topic, I was holding down a full-time job and planning a move from Dubai-Dublin after having spent almost 9 years (on/off) there.

Now, I'm back in Dublin. I've put down 35, 000 words of a first draft for my book and I've decided my blog needs more attention again, particularly as I have lots of travel experiences to record. At the end of the day, this blog is for me but I've really appreciated all the feedback I've received on it and please keep it coming.

So, apologies for the extended break and the hastily thrown together last post on London (particularly to those people who made it so enjoyable there) but please bear with me. Next chapter - Croatia!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Next Stop - HQ - and our last stop London

My lovely boyfriend upgraded us to First Class for our trip from Cardiff to London Paddington. The rain had started as we left there but it began to brighten as we headed east. My humungous suitcase was dragged around a few more stations before we got to Jerome and Eli's in North Acton. Not long in we decided to venture back out to find a bit of grub and enjoy some of the sunshine. We headed to Notting Hill and found a lovely pub festooned with greenery and photos of music idols on the wall. Gareth claimed that at 4pm it was about bloody time he had a beer and a glass of wine seemed a pretty good idea to me too. Woozy after a few we wandered back to Eli and Jerome's where plans were laid for the evening. Sure where else but HQ, AKA the New Inn in Ealing? This has been the base for many a drinking session since 2007 when I started visiting Jerome and Susie in London. Susie is a very old friend that I know from Siamsa Tire and Tralee - where I went to college (uni). Nowadays I'm proud to call her whole family friends, including Jerome - her eldest brother.

It was a lovely few days in London, taking in the hottest day of the year in the UK where we picnicked in Hyde Park beside the Serpentine and I got my birthday present in the form of a trip to the Globe Theatre to see "The Taming of the Shrew". We had drinks overlooking St. Paul's Cathedral and the Thames and discussed that we could probably live around there. There was a drunken late night at HQ and swigging from a bottle of wine with Susie on Ealing Broadway (Sheer class as usual). I endured possibly the worst hangover of the entire trip on my last day and took solace in a dark cinema in Leicester Square. Unfortunately I also found out that a friend back in Dubai had passed on and I didn't get to fully enjoy the last few days of being bathed in the perfect glow of love with Gareth.

He took me to Heathrow on Tuesday morning and held me tight as he said goodbye; I knew I'd miss him but I had no idea that this was the last time that we, as a couple, would be straightforward, that we weren't caught in a maelstrom of emotions. I waved back with a little smile - my boy would be back to me in 9 days and we'd just spent the most amazing month together, taking in so many friends and creating so many memories.

So, on I walked to the A380 for the first time, where I got whisked up to the business class lounge and ended my holiday in style by drinking rather too much Dom Perignon and chatting to the lovely cabin crew. Next stop Dubai....and where would lilIrish travel next?