Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Manchester Exploration

Manchester Exploration

Surprisingly, it was another good night’s sleep at Isaac’s Hostel. They were certainly quieter here than they were at the other hostel. It was fortunate that we had to move here, even if the public areas were lacking, it was not a bad place to stay. But now we were off for the DART to the ferry. At the station where the ferry is, we still had about five trips on the DART left on our tickets, since we thought we would need them more often than we did. Ron offered them to some students of college age. They were dubious at first thinking that we wanted money for them. One young woman was more courageous than the others and accepted them with thanks. It always makes me feel good to be able to do something simple like giving back in some small way.

Although we had called the Stena Lines to reserve our ferry tickets, we could not get through. We tried about six different numbers and only reached recordings while spending every coin we could muster and then getting more. It seemed to our advantage to be there as early as possible to make sure we could get on the early sailing or we would have more than three hours to wait.

There were only three people ahead of us in line, but it took over an hour to get our tickets. People were not meant to be that slow and be awake at the same time. It was like watching a movie in slow motion. They started calling for those with tickets to start boarding the boat and we were still waiting. When it finally seemed to be our turn at the counter, the man behind the desk, said, “Excuse me a minute.” At least that is what I think he said. He then proceeded to climb under his desk. I could not see what drew his attention since the counter was covering him and all I could see were his feet sticking out. He was down there for about five minutes and I am picturing the ferry sailing off without us. When he finally emerged, he said something that I could not understand and was not sure that I wanted to. I smiled to pass the moment of uncomfortable or embarrassing moments and hoped we could move on. We finally had our tickets in hand.

Worrying about not getting a seat was an exercise in futility. The ferry was three quarters empty. We had our choice of seats. In the ship’s gift shop, they had these adorable teapots for ten Irish pounds each. This was one of those times when I wish I had a home. Each teapot had a theme and was shaped like a little store. The one that caught my eye was the Travel Store. On the outside were little brochure holders with tour guide information, maps, flyers for trips, and other travel related themes. I was tempted to buy it and ship it to my friends Daphnee and Ellie to hold for me, but carrying it until we were able to get to a post office, but too much of a bother. However, if I see it again…

The sailing seemed faster than it did when we went over. The train ride to Manchester, England was quite delightful passing all of the farms. The variety of sheep is fascinating. Some of these sheep have the longest tails we have ever seen. Even the farmer boy with me remarked about them. Yes, we are sure they were tails.

We called our friend Michael from the station and he came to pick us up. We had never established whether or not we would be staying with him, but it is rare that I am comfortable staying with people I don’t know that well. Michael picked us up in his red BMW and drove us off to his house where his two Egyptian Siamese cats greeted us warmly. These cats are the color weinmariner dogs, that brownish-gray color. They are really beautiful.

Michael is in the process of getting a tremendous amount of work done on his house, since he is selling it. He bought a new house, which he showed us the specs on and it is wonderful. He also had just sold his jeep and needed to make arrangements to transfer that to the new owner in the next day or two. Today is his birthday, so we decided we should take him out to dinner and to find a place to stay so that we were not in the way of the workers the next morning. We think that Michael was relieved by the prospect and it really made us feel better too. We called around and found a small hotel that had rooms for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, then we would have to find something else. We wanted to be here at least until Sunday morning, because we had reservations in Bath for Sunday night. The other reason is that we wanted to see Jean, our other new friend from the cruise last year. She is a doctor and may have some advice for me.

Her daughter just returned from Iran, where she was studying Arabic. Her daughter, Amanda speaks five languages at twenty-one years old. We had heard so much about her; we were excited at the prospect of meeting her. However, the evening that Jean and Amanda came home from the airport and were in front of their own home, a man came up to them with a gun and wanted Jean’s car keys. It seems that the Subaru Impresa is the most sought after car by professional car thieves. She refused, three shots were fired, but no one was hurt. He took off when Amanda’s friend was in the back seat still dialing 999 for the police. The thief ran off. A lesson to remember before buying a car is to check out what is hot on the theft market first.

Michael drove us to the hotel and we checked into our room. After staying at hostels, it was very pleasant and very reasonably priced. After having a beer in the pub across the street, we went down the street for dinner. There is never a lack of interesting conversation with Michael; he has a gift for keeping conversations going while keeping us interested the whole time. He mentioned that if we had not arrived, he would probably have had spent the evening doing paperwork and ignoring his birthday all together. When we said our good-byes, we said we would call with our plans so we could all get together. He and Jean are good friends and were on the cruise together.

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