150928 – Boxed In

I spent a while hanging out in the hostel room with Eric, Jamie and Neill. Jamie and Neill drove up from Dublin, with plans to visit Belfast, and then camp near Giants’ Causeway. They invited me out to the bar they’d gone to the night before, and I decided to join them for a night of live Irish music. I failed to factor in that Jamie and Neill came from Dublin. We ended up at  Dirty McNasty’s, a bar down the street. The Irish don’t actually go to Irish music bars; they’re for tourists. Reportedly packed for the World Cup the night before, things were quiet, and we chatted, giving Jamie a hard time for bring single, while he blamed his wingmen. I stayed for a while, but headed back for a good night’s sleep.

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I met Dominic over a bucket of chicken in the lobby of the hostel. Dominic left his life in San Francisco, on his second month of  traveling  the world for the next year. He’s never done any international travel before this extended trip, and I realized he hadn’t heard of Schengen. We discussed his itinerary in that context, and swapped stories back and forth until the wee hours of the morning.

Busses in Ireland carry bicycles, but the bike gets bumped if the bus doesn’t have room. I arrived at the station early, checked in, and waited. The bus website failed to mention the lack of room for bikes on this bus even when empty. When Mike, Marie, Marnie and I cycled in Ireland, we packed four fully-loaded bikes onto a bus. I struggled for 10 minutes to load mine onto this one. Unsure if I could get the bike back out, we were on our way to the airport.

I’d decided to take the bus directly to the airport to find out if they had a bike box, and check on any hidden criterion I might have missed.  No box, but I confirmed my flight, and adjusted my meals. The airline said any bike shop would gave boxes. I expressed reservations about small bike shop boxes, but they assured me that was not the case. I also found a company which could handle shipping the bike if I ran into extreme issues. They needed a box as well. Time to cycle into Dublin and find a box.

Dublin offers a variety of tours: the Whiskey Tour, a Ghost Tour, an Authors’ Pub Tour, the Irish Storytellers Tour, a historical walking tour, a Game of Thrones Tour. I spent the day going from bike shop to bike shop, an opportunity missed by the local tourist bureau.

The first bike shop offered a bike box tomorrow. I wanted to resolve the box issue today, and continued on. In total I visited six different bike shops, and at the end of the day had promises from two places for tomorrow, and a box in hand. One box resolves the crisis, but with a smaller box than my original at the start of the tour, I hoped to find a second box, either larger, or meld the two boxes together.

After that, I attempted to visit Tourist Information. They closed in mere moments, but I grabbed a few brochures of nightly activities. Failing to find anything that piqued my fancy, I headed back to the hostel for dinner. I forgot how zoo-like the larger hostels’ kitchen are; dinner took almost an hour to prepare.

Disorganized, bike lanes in Dublin switch back and forth from roadside, bus lane, sidewalk, and non-existent, yet  considerably improved since the last time I cycled here. One of the bike shops told me Ireland’s BikeToWork started five years ago; you can purchase a bike (and equipment) up to 1000 euro, and pay over a year’s time through payroll deduction, pre-tax. Given the tax rate in Ireland, you can save up to 52% on your purchase, and bike sakes skyrocketed.

Jamie and Neill could not have picked a better time for camping. With the warm sun-filled days, tomorrow could well include cycling if I can resolve all of the bike issues.  I still need tape.

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