On Saturday I had a simple journey from Drogheda to Dublin to undertake. The part of Dublin I was going to wasn’t serviced by expresse busses and although I could get there using connecting trains it would have taken a long time. I had planned on getting a non-express bus. This service stops everywhere on the route from Drogheda to the central bus station in Dublin so would have left me very near to my destination. Unfortunately on my way to the station a woman stopped me to ask me to play at an event she was organizing in June so I missed the bus I was planning to get.
The drivers in the bus station in Drogheda know me quite well. I don’t use this form of transport very regularly any more but when I do I’m usually catching the express to either Dublin or Dundalk. When I asked about the non-express bus to Dublin they obviously didn’t hear me properly so I jumped on the wrong bus. We were on the M1 to Dublin when I realised so it was too late to change. I had to quickly think of the best way of getting to my destination within the shortest amount of time possible.
I decided that getting off at the airport was probably the best way to do it. Making my way back in from the bus station in Dublin might take a long time as I’d potentially get stuck in traffic or the bus might take a while to arrive at the stop. However I haven’t got a bus from the airport towards the city centre in about five years so I had to enlist my trusty iPhone. I asked if anyone on Twitter had any ideas but as we were getting near to the airport I decided to try looking around the Dublin bus website. I had fears that this wasn’t accessible as for years it’s been very difficult to navigate around the time tables but fortunately I was able to find travel adversaries that advertised that the 16A and 747 busses passed through where I needed to be.
I was all set when the bus was pulling into the airport. I would get off, continue walking in front of the bus for a few seconds, cross the road and find someone to ask where the 16 stopped. The airport bus stops have been arranged very close to each other for years so by crossing the small roadway used by the Drogheda bus I should have been very near to the stops used by the Dublin city busses. This was not to be as easy as I thought it would be. As I was getting off the driver commented that he was not allowed stop at terminal one any more so had let everyone off at the newly designated bus stops at terminal two. This is a new addition to Dublin airport and I haven’t been around this newly constructed area yet so I was at a loss. I knew that the bus drove through this area and terminal 1 was most likely right ahead of me somewhere so I kept walking until I reached the edge of the path. Fortunately I found someone walking toward me so I asked them where the bus stops had been moved to. She gave me a few directions so I could continue on my way. Her directions were terrible actually. She told me to go straight on but I wasn’t convinced. Ike is a little like Freddie. I’ve learned that I have to trust him because more often than not, I’m wrong and he’s right. Even though she said I could cross straight I don’t think I could have. Ike led me up to the tactile markings that defined the start of the designated crossing point but he veered way over to the right when crossing even though the lip of the crossing was straight. His walk was relaxed and confident but he wasn’t bouncing on his paws so I knew he wasn’t distracted by something so I trusted his persistence and let him take the initiative. I’m glad I did because we arrived safely on the other side at another tactile marking. She said I could go straight here but Ike couldn’t find the way and instead wanted to go left. I had no choice but to let him but after a few feet he found a right turn on his own which led to a part of the airport I am familiar with. Here he continued taking the initiative even though he has never been to Dublin airport before and he found every crossing point on the way. I encouraged this because I knew I didn’t want to use the main crossing point over to the departures area but I knew that there is a much smaller crossing point just after that that leads onto a very large island path where the Dublin city busses departed from. I needed him to find the crossing I was familiar with though so as I could orientate myself to recognise the smaller crossing. I was lucky. Just as Ike found the small crossing I was looking for I heard a bus pulling up to a stop. After reaching the island I pointed toward the sound of the engine and told Ike to find the way. He found the door like a pro! Unfortunately, Dublin busses no longer depart from this area however the bus I had found was actually not going anywhere for another fifteen minutes so the Driver offered to let me follow him to the new bus stop. For reference, it’s through what they call the mall. That’s the small area right in across the road from the main entrance to the departures area. The entrance to the multi-story car parks can be reached through this area as well.
Fortunately, the driver led me right up to the bus stop for the 16A and a bus arrived very shortly afterward.
The next bit of fun started while on the bus toward the city centre. I was starting to be a bit late so I was getting a little anxious that I was nowhere near where I needed to be. Thanks to the Sendero GPS iPhone app however I was able to look around to see where I was and what was nearby.
I can’t explain how much freedom having a dog again gives me. Imagine walking around that airport with a cane? I would have followed that woman’s instructions without knowing that she obviously meant me to follow the line of the crossing. I wouldn’t have found the small crossing to the bus stop and it would have taken me much longer to get where I was going. Ike has really stepped up to the mark in the past few months. He amazes me with the speed at which he can find objects and land marks. Last night I was walking through Georges street in Dublin. I was looking for a bus stop for the number 83. Freddie would have known it from using it for the past few years but it was Ike’s first time. It’s only a pole with some time table thing on it so it’s impossible to know where it is when using a dog. I had an idea though that it was one crossing past the sheltered bus stop and was a fair bit down on the right. By telling him to go very steady and pointing to my right he found everything he thought I might be looking for. Bins, cars, random poles and finally the bus stop. It was quite late at night so I wasn’t particularly confident with asking someone so this was just perfect. It took a little longer but I know when I’m back there next week he’ll find it again. His ability to remember land marks and places equals Freddie’s. I had planned to say that in three months he has also not over stepped a curb but he messed that up last night by walking me into the middle of a road. I know it was an accident though. I didn’t even feel it myself. There was obviously no step off the curb and I couldn’t detect any difference with my feet as I was walking so I’ll just put it down to him not knowing the area. I was lucky though. It could have been very dangerous but I heard a car pulling off on my left and I knew that we weren’t on the path any more. I quickly turned the both of us around and walked as fast as possible back to where I knew was safe. I probably could have kept going but I wasn’t sure how far across we had gone and I also thought it was a better idea to make him focus on finding the edge of the crossing again. This is the bad part though. He did find the edge of the crossing when we did it again. Or, at least I think he did. I couldn’t feel any lip to suggest that the road was starting anywhere! I’m a bit concerned about that. I’ll probably try to get a friend to walk down that road with me again before next Wednesday to make sure he’s found the right place to stop. It’s really unusual for him so the only thing I can think of is that the crossing is too hard to recognise. Don’t get me wrong though. That’s one minor hick up that I don’t even think is Ike’s fault. Everything is going so well that I can’t fault him at all.
I probably couldn’t have done the trip so comfortably on Saturday if I didn’t have the iPhone either. Sure. I could have kept asking people for directions, bus time tables and all that kind of thing but the independence and confidence the iPhone provides to me has made me wonder how I ever did without it. Unfortunately although it is inevitable that I will have to get assistance from time to time the need for this has decreased substantially. This is great! I don’t know how many bad directions I’ve been given or how many times I’ve asked someone to tell me when the next bus is due who didn’t speak a word of English. It’s very frustrating! Looking at last night again, I had to find a building on Chancery lane. I had never been to Chancery lane before so again, with the text descriptions in Google maps, some help from people and the GPS app from Sendero I was able to find it without much hassle.
One thing I am increasingly aware of is my need for a full GPS solution. It would be incredibly useful considering the amount of new places I regularly travel to.