Sometimes the path less travelled is not the best path to take. While I, like many travellers, often try to experience a place like a local and stay away from the crowds, sometimes the path of least resistance might just be the best one. I personally discovered this when I found myself on a journey that consisted of a twenty minute slog to the bus station, a two hour bus ride into another country, an eight Euro cab ride to the docks, an hour long wait before a three hour ferry ride and then another two hour train ride. How did this happen? Not because I was trying to be adventurous or unconventional, but because I am a terrible planner.
When I moved out of Belfast to start my three months of travel, I had a suitcase I wanted to store at my aunt’s house in England. Thinking I could save myself a few dollars and yet another flight, I decided to take a ferry across the Irish Sea. My friends had assured me it was completely hassle-free. But let me assure you, it was not!
After spending the morning lugging two huge heavy bags, a backpack and a purse from Belfast to Dublin on public transit, I was already starting to doubt the logic of my plan. But as I sauntered up to the ferry check-in counter for my 2:15pm ferry and it slowly dawned on me that I had actually bought a ticket for the 2:15am ferry, I knew I’d really messed this one up. That tricky devil, the 24 hour clock, bested me once again, but in my defence who the F&*% takes a ferry from 2:15am to 5:45am??
And so I added my name to the waiting list for the next ferry with very little hope I would get on the sold-out boat. Normally a travel delay wouldn’t cause me too much concern, but I’d already made plans to meet my aunt on the other end and I didn’t want my silly mistake to cause her any inconvenience. Somehow against the odds I made it on the boat and things started to look up from there. I was able to stow my many bags (free of charge!), ate a surprisingly tasty veggie lasagna in the cafeteria and had a refreshing nap in a restaurant booth. The three hour trip passed quickly and I woke as the ship was pulling into Holyhead.
During my train ride on the other side, I mulled over the experience and decided that the ferry trip itself was completely enjoyable. I also realized that I like boats better than planes for several reasons, namely 1) I can swim, but I cannot fly, 2) Even though the Irish Sea would be very cold, the air in the upper atmosphere would also be freezing, and devoid of oxygen, and 3) There are life jackets and life boats on ferries but no such luck on planes (which really made me ask why don’t planes have parachutes and escape pods?).
My crossing of the Irish Sea in a boat wasn’t the most direct trip and it likely wasn’t even the most cost effective, but I got there in the end – bags in hand, lesson learned, ready to start my first solo backpacking trip.
Today I say yes to the path less travelled and the path well travelled. Yes to the direct route, the winding road, the detours along the way. Yes to always moving forward, one step, one mistake, one adventure, at a time.
We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds. – Aristotle Onassis