Back in '99 when I was taking enough trains around Europe that it was worth it to have a rail pass, I was regularly gobsmacked at how (at least on the Continent) they ran to-the-minute per the published schedule. Yesterday, pretty much every train I was on was delayed...which was a good thing because otherwise I would have missed a couple of connections. In one case, I ran up and over an overpass (carrying a heavy suitcase) to a train already standing at the correct platform, barely glanced at the monitor and only confirmed it was the correct train when I was on board (and had managed to catch my breath). Which brings up another observation: the British rail system must be hell on people with physical disabilities. I can't count the number of occasions where I couldn't see any obvious option for getting from point A to point B that didn't involve stairs. (Even on the spiral ramp up to the pedestrian bridge to the Durham station, the ramp had periodic steps. Not quite enough to daunt the roll-away, but certainly enough to preclude wheelchair use.) I'm still spry enough that I can break out the backpack straps on my suitcase and hike up to my 3rd floor walk-up room here at Trinity College (see picture) but I can feel the bones aching on occasion and it makes me ponder.
But on the up side, I saw lots of lovely train-side scenery yesterday, cutting accross the Pennines and then traveling along the northern edge of Wales, across the Menai Strait, and on to Holyhead where I took the ferry to Dublin. I took a bunch of "atmosphere" notes on the trip for when I return some day to my 10th century historic romance that involves Dublin and Vikings.
If you ever plan to visit Dublin in the summer and want easy access to everything downtown (and you have good knees) I can highly recommend taking advantage of the Trinity College on-campus accommodations. (I found them through Hotels.com) It's a dorm style room (there are a few with en suite facilities, which I got) and comes with a complimentary continental breakfast at The Buttery (full breakfast available if you pay more). And now I'm going to walk out of my room, across the quad, and take a campus tour that ends up putting me in front of the Book of Kells. But more on that in tomorrow's post.