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Bern

After three days of nearly non-stop traveling, I’m beat. (Side note: the trains in Switzerland are so good that you can write while riding one.) Which brings me to my rant about public transportation in Ireland, whereby your average speed on a straight line across the country is not much better than you could do by walking. So, a brief summary: we left Doolin on the 8:00 bus to Ennis, where we caught a train to Limerick Junction. By the time our connecting train was 15 minutes late, we asked and found out that the line to Waterford (one of five in the entire country) was closed completely. Bear in mind that this was not posted anywhere. So we went halfway to Dublin, got off, had lunch, and caught a train going in the other direction, which finally took us to Kilkenny. Straight line distance: 150 km. Travel time: 9 hours.

Anyway, Kilkenny seems like a nice enough place. We stayed in a campsite south of town and the owner never showed up to collect, which was nice because Ireland has put me way over budget. It’s also supposed to have a good nightlife, but Tuesday night was pretty much dead, and we walked back to the campsite in the dark, sharing a bottle of Paddy and singing. Wednesday we got a late start, but I still wanted to see Kells’ Priory. Yuri decided we didn’t have time and went back into Kilkenny to write or some shit. Which turned out to be a good thing, because I (after a 5 km – walking – false start) got a ride with a farmer who had been born and lived his entire life in Kells. In an Irish brogue so thick I could barely understand, he insisted that I tell him everything I knew about American Indians, and confided that though he had always wanted to travel the world, the farthest he had made it was England. The Priory was nice, he said, but the real attraction was an abandoned monastery further up the road, where the King and Queen of Ireland were buried. And then we arrived in Kells, and he gave me one last piece of advice before I left. “If ye’re oot after dark,” he said, “beware the Banshee. She’s the curse o’ the O’s and Mc’s.”

“Nice” doesn’t begin to describe Kells’ Priory, which, even in ruins, is easily the largest castle I’ve ever seen. Sheep still graze in the courtyard, and with no other human being in sight, it’s easy to imagine Irish warriors rushing around to defend themselves from attack. Truly another one of those sights words cannot do justice. And now I faced a difficult decision: if I continued on to the monastery, I would have to hitch at least some of the 17 km back to Kilkenny in order to catch my train. What the hell.

There’s something moving about graveyards, especially when you’re alone in one, let alone when it’s in the middle of a crumbling 12th-century monastery. I could have stayed for hours, the only sounds the crunch of my own footsteps and the bleating of sheep. But as it was I hardly had time to take it all in before retracing my steps to Kells. Fortunately, I had only walked a short distance back towards Kilkenny before I was picked up, and by a wealthy woman on her own no less. She shared a few stories of her own fantastically far-ranging travels and was even nice enough to drop me at the campsite.

By the time I caught up with Yuri at the train station I had walked about 16 km anyway, though. We even had time to grab a pint in a beer garden before our train to Dublin. Then we took a bus to the airport, where Yuri set up his Thermarest for some chemically-induced sleep while I watched the bags all night. I have trouble sleeping in airports, planes, trains, and beds anyway, so by the time we flew into Frankfurt and got to Bern (56 hours after leaving Doolin), I was exhausted. Ronny met us at the train station, and we had dinner and walked around Bern for a while, so I went to bed at a reasonable hour and got a good night’s sleep. Now we’re on a train to Môtiers, absinthe capital of the world – or something like that.

Train-ing in

Train-ing in

 
Kells' Priory

Kells' Priory

 
Ronny!

Ronny!

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