house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Scots Christmas One - Getting There

We went to Scotland for Christmas. For the longest time, it was just a topic to discuss-and-drop, like taxes or tai-kwon-do or growing pigs. It was understood that the wind in our (mostly rhetoric) sails came from the strongest possible principle: Christmas is about being with Loved Ones, at Home. Since our home here consists of three windswept granite walls, any hope of applying the principle is somewhat premature.

It was also widely accepted that we were going to Scotland By Car and With Dog. The trip across Europe was going to be long and lovely. What made it long? Ehm, 2700 km (about 1700 miles) and the fact that we were going to stop and stay with everyone we knew along the way. What made it lovely? All those Stories we had, on Ipod and CD. Possibly also the Dog, by being Cute.

Thus planning, some three days before the journey we realised that a) we were going to miss Christmas and b) we might have had to leave Scotland before the New Year, just to make it back in time... The road was going to be icy, the car was going to be cold.

This is fast becoming a blog about 'transport across Europe'. The car was ruled out. We tried the train.

You want a train ticket from Portugal to Scotland? Brace yourself. You need to deal with four different rail agencies, in four countries. You must not be surprised if it costs twice the price of flying, and takes four times longer. You might have to cross the odd border on foot. You might not make some connections. Finally, if travelling in winter, the Channel Tunnel might freeze up, together with all the trains it contains at that random moment. In which case you'll need to hang your stocking right there and send a telex to Santa before settling down to hibernate. The questions are why why and why.

We tried the ferry: forget it. Most stop for the winter. We found one sailing from Bilbao to Portsmouth. We would have had to pay a small fortune for the dubious 2-day long pleasure of floating through the stormy Bay of Biscay. The ship was going to produce more pollution than a small fleet of planes. We may have still missed Christmas, given the long arctic journey.

We flew. We left the Dog with Friends. May the Carbon Gods (and the Dog) forgive us.


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