Hitching the Boats, NL to Ireland

After a couple of days visiting family and chilling with friends my Journey continues towards the West, Longford, Ireland as my destination. I started my Journey on a Wednesday late morning on the A27 heading south. It didn’t take me that long to get a ride, I walked around the parking lot only once when a Buisnezz guy offered to bring me just before Utrecht. The Netherlands is small, so the ride was short. Arriving at the next gas station I noticed two Belgium cars, This is my chance I thought! heading towards them I didn’t even have to ask anything, for one of the Belgium dudes came to me and asked; “Where you happen to be going? I replied; Gent! Feel like giving me a ride!? Sure he replied, I can bring you to the border”. Great! things were looking awesome! We passed the Belgium border within the next hour where he dropped me of at the first gas station.

So the next ride, I’m not quite sure, I remember I was at the Belgium gas station, And I remember the gas station where I got dropped off, Sadly though I can’t recall the car, nor the person that gave me the ride. Its a shame really, maybe my memorie will give me access to the images of this ride sooner or later.

To continue, I just passed Gent and the forgotten driver dropped me on a Gas station towards Brugge and Calais. Again I didn’t have to wait for so long. for quite soon this English car with a caravan stopped. I didn’t even had to walk to him, he just yelled while filling gas, Ay mate! Where ya headin at? Slowly I walked to him and said; well mate, Actually I’m heading to the UK, you think I can join you? So what will you give me he replied? I said; I can give you some food if you like, Maybe a keychain. but besides that I aint got much more than dirty undies. He laughed and said fuck it, hop in.

The ride to Calais was a couple of hours, his parents and sister were also driving with him but in a different car. quite fast in the conversation when I told him about what i do, he offered me a job. He was quite persistent, trying to convince me that he would offer me a better deal, Work, Food and a Caravan. but also cash every end of the day, besides that they work all over Europe. He didn’t seem to understand my lack of interest in working for money. Later I found out they were Irish Travelers (in other terms, Irish Gypsies) Thus explaining the Caravan, Job offer, Clothing style etc. We arrived at the boat to the UK around 21:00. His dad was somewhat worried to bring me, Afraid I might be carrying drugs etc. He told me I couldn’t join them. They dropped me at the ticket office, it was quite empty there. Definitely didn’t want to get stuck there. While they were getting the tickets for the truck, caravan etc. I approached him and had a chat. I managed to ease his worries and he agreed to take me to the other side.

It was dark, the boat ride was short (about one hour) Sadly due to the darkness I didn’t experience much of it nor was I able to make pictures. They drove me to the next Services, Services is the English name for Gas station/Rest area. This is were things got different. The moment I went to the entrance of the shop to apply my usual tactic, the gas station security guy came to me. “Good evening sir, You are currently on Private property, Hitch-hiking is alright but officially prohibited in the UK, You are not allowed to be on this property or around the pumps. If you don’t comply i’m afraid I will have to call the cops” I was aware hitch-hiking in the UK was more difficult and there were some funny laws. This was completely unexpected though. Anyway I was friendly and had a little chat with him about other Laws, Do’s and Dont’s in the UK. At midnight I searched for some trees out of sight of the Guard and Security Cameras.

Day 2

The night was good, I didn’t find a proper place to pop my tent, so instead I just slep in the gras in the open air, Even got lucky for there wasn’t much rain that night. I woke up just before sunrise and started searching for a ride, while avoiding the “private property” gas station. My Irish Traveler friends slept at the same Services that night, When they left and noticed I was still there they offered me a ride to the next Services which was bigger and better. Indeed it was, Restaurant, Lorry rest place, Gas station. No problems getting out of here I though. Well wrong thought, I went to the entrance of the Restaurant where the most people seemed to be and started approaching people walking out; “Good afternoon sir, I’m sorry to disturb you, I’m from The Netherlands and I’m heading towards Ireland, you happen to be heading to the M1 north?” this is how I approached the people. after about half an hour staff from the restaurant came outside, He said; “Its alright to stand here, but can you please not disturb our costumers? I got complains you are begging for money” I laughed, yet I felt disappointed for what I just heard.

I decided to switch between the lorry rest place to ask all the new trucks arriving, and the entrance of the restaurant. eventually this cool London guy who just had dinner agreed on bringing me to a Services on my way. He also gave me this lottery ticket I could exchange for 5 pounds at a supermarket. I managed to move from the Southern part of the London Ring road, to the Northern part of the Ring. /Great progression so far /Sarcasm disabled! its about 13:00 now.

The place I got dropped of was even bigger than before, Huge Lorry rest place, gas station, Car gas station, Huge parking place for cars and a small mall with restaurants, Lots of people! The British though, even though they are very friendly, they dont seem to like to be bothered or talk to strangers really. I tried multiple tactics from talking to the truck drivers, to asking the people coming out of the mall, to popping my sign at the exit. Yet nobody wanted to bring me.

Hours passed, It was quite cold that day, It started getting dark. Then the unexpected happened! The local Security guy came to me. He was like; “Ay mate, seen you here all day, you should not stand here man. Try and get a lorry heading north, preferably foreign plates or just go inside the Mall in the light and talk to people there. That’s much more trustworthy. Ill help out and try to find someone heading north”. He was very cool, we chilled and talked for a bit. I took his advice. I tried more lorries, Went inside the restaurant without getting kicked out. Yet no ride. around 21:00 I went to the lorries and dropped my backpack in the grass. Negative thought patterns started popping up again, Damn you England! This is much worse than expected. It’ll take me weeks to get to Ireland like this. Englishman Y U so Weird?? Right on that moment A dude started yelling at me. Couldn’t understand him at first, but when I walked to him he said; “Where ya heading!? M1 north, Ireland as my destination! you?, Me to bro heading to Birmingham, I can drop you on the M6 in the right direction!

Whoohooo! The feeling that rushed through me! you can’t imagine, A 3 hour drive north towards my destination, Rather than getting stuck at London ring that day. The dude was very awesome, So in Britain there is this job, You pick up a new truck somewhere, Drive it to its destination, Then hitch-hike to the next place to pick up a truck. You get paid for driving the trucks and delivering them, but also for every mile you hitch-hike. Drivers that do this get a special licence plate that if they wave it in the air while hitch-hiking people know they do it for their profession and its save to take them. Imagine that! He has been doing this for the past 3 years, just driving and hitching around Monday to Friday, spending weekends at home. At some point he stopped at a supermarket, Asked me if i needed anything. I replied no, Yet I ended up with a bag full of food that he insisted me to accept… We arrived at a Services just north of Birmingham around midnight. At arrival I instantly headed into the forest and popped my tent.

Packing Gear, getting ready to go

Packing Gear, getting ready to go

Day 3

In England the facilities like Toilets and Showers on the Services are for free, that morning I started my day with a great poop, did some human hygiene afterwards, Then I moved to the entrance of the mall to find myself a ride. It didn’t take long before someone from the staff came outside to kindly ask me not to stand at the entrance and bother the costumers for they are getting complaints… Well alright then, I’m still amazed how they get all these complaints, for I only speak to people coming out of the mall. Anyway I packed my stuff and started asking truckers, seems luck was on my side today. The second driver I spoke to, A polish trucker barely speaking English was going in my direction. I was advised to go to Lymm Services, its a Huge Services on the M6 and M56 intersection located perfectly to find a ride towards Ireland. After an hour drive he dropped me at the Lymm Services.

The Services was huge indeed, I never seen anything like it before. I got out at the lorry rest area. I didn’t even have to walk to the Mall or the gas station, there were so many trucks. Basically I started at one row, talking to every driver of said row, then move to the next row. First few rows not much going on, I did notice some Ireland plates though. After talking to every driver currently there at the moment I went looking for Irish plates only. At some point I noticed a Irish Car Transporter. I walked to the driver and asked him if he were heading to Ireland by any chance, Indeed he was but he wasn’t allowed to bring any passengers. After a bit more chatting he said he couldn’t bring me on the boat, but he could take me to Holyhead at least (where the boats leave)

The ride was a bit more then two hours, The scenery was great for we were driving the coast. Ervins (the drivers name) was quite relaxed. It was the first long conversation I had with an Irishman, getting use to the Accent was pretty easy actually. Getting close to the Harbor I told him I intended to hitch-hike a private sail boat to Dublin, if that failed consider taking the evening ferry. Ervins though didn’t really like the idea of me getting stuck here at the harbor, trying to find a way to cross the channel. Yet he wasn’t sure if he would get in trouble for taking me to the other side, Officially he wasn’t even allowed to take me anyway. He made a few calls to some colleagues, eventually when we were in line he decided to ask the staff to be 100% sure.

Boading Card

Boading Card

So he had to weight the truck etc, then he asked whether it would be a problem if he had a passenger. Staff replied not at all, Before we even knew it we could move on… The thing was, the company he is driving for was paying the passage. It looked like they also payed my passage. I remember him saying, “I sure hope I wont get in trouble for this” Ah well, it made up for a cool boarding card.

Waiting in line to Board the Boat to Ireland.

Waiting in line to Board the Boat to Ireland.

The crossing took about 4 hours, I was hoping the be able to access Wi-Fi figure out my place to stay for the night in Dublin etc. Sadly that didn’t really work. The ship though was quite fancy and looking pretty nice. It had some restaurants, A casino, A Cinema, chilling area, some shops etc. The greatest thing is, Truckers get special treatment. They have their own Cafeteria where you get one big ass lunch, and you can drink juices, tea’s and coffees for free throughout the ride. considering I was a passenger of a Truck I had access to the same things. It was Great! Having Lunch on the boat with Ervins was just amazing. You could choose between Soups, Salads, Potatoes, Lots of Meat and Fish Even fresh Desserts! You could take anything you wanted, as much as you wanted. Oh boy did I enjoy that meal! Especially after eating only nuts, fruits, cookies and chocolate for the past 2 days. Eventually Ervins took a nap for a couple of hours (Yes we also had our own cabin+shower) I walked around the boat a bit, then decided to watch a movie in the Cinema. Just before arriving in Dublin we rendezvous in the Truckers Cafeteria. We got out of the boat and Ervins dropped me on the edges of the City Center.

Goodbye UK,

Goodbye UK,

That evening was just so random, I was supposed to stay at a friend of a friends place. Apparently they were Squatting the place. But at arrival I couldn’t stay there for they had some trouble with the police and my contactee was not present. I took a pint at a bar and checked the net, found out there was a CS meeting, Figured that would be my best bet at finding a place to stay. I never attended a CS meeting before, so I wasn’t sure how thing go there. Well looks like I still don’t, around midnight I was still at the bar hanging out with a Danish Woman who was part of the group. She was also a Backpacker though staying at a way to expensive fully booked hostel, all the Couchsurfers capable of hosting had left…. I visited and called every hostel I could find, which all seemed to be full.

In the end I basically pub crawled around Dublin with my backpack as my buddy. Somewhere in the Early morning hours I met this German dude, He was using AirBnB to stay in Dublin. He offered me to stay at his place if the host allowed it to. The walk back took quite some time, for he was somewhat Drunk and didn’t exactly know the way. Luckily we made it, The hosts agreed to take me in for a night. I slept on the floor and it was great! The next morning I decided to take the Bus to Longford! Worse decision ever! but my Body was completely fokkop due to my Journey of the last couple of days. Just sitting in a bus looking out the window was well appreciated!

I tell you man, Drunk Irish dudes in pubs! that’s just 100% live comedy!


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