Our spectacular summer vacation of 2012 came into be with this one question:
“How can we take advantage of our layover on the way back to the USA, and turn it into a vacation?”
Most of the flights with layovers were through London. We didn’t really want to spend this vacation with millions of our closest friends who were attending the 2012 Olympics in London. Next question:
“Where can we go, from London, that is cheap to get to?”
Ireland was our obvious first choice. Come on. Ireland. I know. Right? So, the googling, and Lonely Planeting, and airbnbing continued late into the night for weeks. Thanks to kayak.com’s multi-destination feature, we were able to have several stops on our flight path, and not spend more than $100 more on plane tickets. In total, our entire trip to Ireland, including getting to and from London, cost us less than what just the airfare would have been from the USA to Ireland, round trip.
One of our genius ideas was to take a train across the UK and catch a ferry to Ireland. Well, we did it. It was a great idea, in theory. It was not a great idea to do after flying all night with a toddler who was already behind about 9 hours of sleep .
- London-Heathrow airport lost our stroller. We quickly realized we would not be in the country long enough to ever see it again.
- Part of this plan involved getting ourselves across London in 5.5 hours to the main train station. No big deal, right? How hard could it be, right? We even had specific lines and stops spelled out from a friend. What we did not factor in: 3 HUGE SUITCASES, the baby, a stroller, a car seat, 3 carry-ons. Kill. Me. We took 3 trains just to get to the main train station to take 2 more trains. Fact: most stations have no lift (elevator), and just stairs. lots. of. stairs. If this had been Amazing Race: Families, we would have won.
- Euro are not accepted in the UK. Somehow, we missed this HUGE piece of information, and we ended up in a train station, hungry, with only Euro. Thankfully, we only had to hike outside and up the street to change for some Pounds.
- Loosing 1 of 2 pacifiers on train #4. First day of the trip, and we were already down to 1 pacifier. Fail.
- As we were boarding train #5 of the day, JT started crying uncontrollably and climbing up me, completely angrysadfreakingoutcrazy for the longest 15 minutes of the lives of the people on that crowded train. All I could think was, “We still have 2 hours on this train, 1 hour to switch, and 3 hours on a ferry, before we catch a cab to get a rental car, all before we ever get to a bed.” All I could say was,”James. This. Bad idea.”
- Londoners blew my mind in helpfulness. Almost every time we came upon a staircase, a random stranger would not even slow down before jumping in and carrying a stroller, or 40 pound suitcase, or me up several flights of stairs. Seriously. And every one of them had a great attitude doing it.
- Eating the most amazing Upper Crust sandwiches on train #4.
- Seeing the unreal scenery in Whales from the train.
- By God’s grace, we made every train, plan, ferry, and connection on time. The real miracle was catching train #5, which only happened because it was 5 minutes late. I’m not even kidding a little. Even then, it was close.
- London-Heathrow airport finding our stroller in 15 minutes flat. Disaster averted!
We made it to Ireland. If we had that first part to do over, we would have flown straight to Dublin, or, hung out in London a day or two before more transit. Live and learn.