A Travellerspoint blog

April 2019

Sheffield - Travel Tips

sunny 20 °C
View Sheffield 2 & Sheffield on IainT's travel map.

Victoria Quays

Victoria Quays

Sheffield has been a regular destination for years - it is a centre of excellence for ice hockey. This month I have been to the city twice to support my son and his ice hockey team.

I have used a few of the city's hotels, with mixed results. The Holiday Inn a few years ago was dreadful. Last year the Novotel was a big success.

Novotel

Novotel

For this month’s first visit, I had one night in the Novotel. It was expensive. £184 including breakfast. That is almost double what I would usually be paying - anywhere, never mind a Novotel. As before, it was very good. The location suits me - a 5 minute walk to the railway station and about the same to the tram line which takes me to and from Ice Sheffield.

I had dinner at the Novotel when I arrived - it was great. £14.99 for a 3 course menu, so it was good value for money too. I blew any savings on a couple of glasses of wine.

Novotel Dessert

Novotel Dessert

I travelled there and back by train. I used Trans Pennine Express on the way south from Edinburgh, with a change of train in Manchester. Journey time was about 4.5 hours, with a 5 minute connection!

The return journey was on CrossCountry Trains via Newcastle, but I did not have to change. The journey time was just over 4 hours.

All those trains were right on time.

TPE

TPE

Prices are a bit meaningless as it all depends how far in advance you book, and whether you are flexible enough to travel when it is cheapest. I have reached the time in life where a Senior Railcard comes into play, so I get big discounts.

Winners!

Winners!

On my second trip I stayed at the same Novotel for two nights, at half the price per night.

I drove to Sheffield and back. It takes about 4.5 hours each way - in distance it is 295 miles (472 km) in each direction. I would always prefer the train (or a plane) for that distance but it was Easter weekend and the British trains are often madness at this time. The flight times just did not work out.

I only drive about 750 miles in a month, so it was a bit of an adventure for me. I reckon I spent about £60 on fuel, and my lease costs for that kind of mileage would be about £100. The train would have been cheaper. So would the plane.

Supertram

Supertram

Sheffield has two tram lines - or light rail, I think. The yellow line goes past Ice Sheffield - £2.50 each way or £4.20 for a day ticket. They have conductors on board to sell you tickets, so there is no need to worry about messing around with ticket machines.

Posted by IainT 09:52 Archived in England Tagged trains sport transport ice_hockey sheffield Comments (0)

Belfast - Travel Tips

sunny 8 °C
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Custom House, Belfast

Custom House, Belfast

I arrived in the city by train from Dublin - see my Dublin tips for more detail on that. The Dublin train arrives at Belfast’s Lanyon Place Station (it used to be called Central Station).

SSE Arena, Belfast

SSE Arena, Belfast

My hotel was the AC Marriott on Donegall Quay opposite the SSE Arena. It was excellent. The cost was £99 for a superior room with a river view, and including a buffet breakfast. It was an easy walk from the station (15 minutes), and from the city centre (10 minutes). It was also an easy walk (10 minutes) from the hotel to the arena.

AC Marriott, Belfast

AC Marriott, Belfast

On my previous visit to the city my hotel had been a nightmare - noise from drunken guests - so my stay at the AC Marriott did a little to restore some faith in humanity.

Docklands, Belfast

Docklands, Belfast

I left the city on FlyBe, heading for Edinburgh. FlyBe uses Belfast City Airport which is just 10 minutes by bus from the city centre. Some airlines use Belfast International, but it is 30-40 minutes away by bus.

My one way flight cost me £58 including the cost of a checked in bag (£21) Belfast City Airport is compact and very user friendly.

Heritage

Heritage

Translink’s Airport Express 600 is the bus service I used to get to the airport. £2.50. The service only runs every 30 minutes, but if you miss one that leaves you just enough time for a coffee before the next one. The stop closest to my hotel was only 5 minutes walk away. Ideal.

Posted by IainT 09:56 Archived in Ireland Tagged trains sport ireland transport flights ice_hockey airlines belfast brexit Comments (0)

Dublin - Travel Tips

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Tallaght Luas Terminus

Tallaght Luas Terminus

On my brief visit to Dublin last month I travelled from Edinburgh with Aer Lingus. It cost a little more than Ryanair would have done, but the whole experience is more more relaxed and friendly. I paid about £65 one way, including £21 “extra” for a checked in bag.

One downside to Aer Lingus is their cabin bag allowance being very small - the smallest I have come across. It might just make Ryanair even better value for money.

Luggage reclaim was very slow at Dublin Airport - we waited almost 30 minutes, even after taking a bus from the plane to the other side of the airport and then queuing for 10 minutes at passport control. Bear it in mind when planning your onward travel.

Heuston Station

Heuston Station

I took an airport Dublin Bus/Bus Átha Cliath into the city centre and then at Heuston Station changed to the Luas (tram) to take me to my hotel in Tallaght. That bus route (the 747) goes right through the city centre, so it was slow.

Visitor Card

Visitor Card

The service is very frequent however, so you will not wait long. It is also right at the exit from Terminal 2. You can buy single tickets on the bus or from a kiosk at the bus stop.

At the airport I bought a 24 hour TFI (Transport for Ireland) Leap card for €10. It is valid on all city buses, the Luas and some commuter trains. The ticket is available from the Spar shop just as you leave departures in Terminal 2. It saved me money even although I only used the airport bus once and the Luas twice.

My hotel was the Glashaus in Tallaght. It is at the terminus of the Luas red line, and so well out of the city centre in suburbia. It took about 40 minutes from Heuston Station. I wanted to be well away from the city centre, hoping it would be quiet at night.

Glashaus

Glashaus

It was quiet, but turned out to be further than I expected from the city centre. The cost was €102 including a big breakfast. The room was excellent and so was breakfast. I had dinner there and it was good enough without being very interesting.

Glashaus Breakfast

Glashaus Breakfast

I left the city by train for Belfast. The cross border Enterprise service is a joint venture between Iarnród Éireann and NI Railways. It leaves from Connolly Station in Dublin - which is also on the Luas red line. My 1st class ticket cost €39.99. The journey time is just over 2 hours, so it is not fast.

Grand Canal, Dublin

Grand Canal, Dublin

It is comfortable however, and the restaurant car serves food at your seat (at least in 1st class). I enjoyed my chicken salad with wine, but of course the bill wiped the smile off my face.

Posted by IainT 00:47 Archived in Ireland Tagged planes trains food scotland edinburgh ireland transport flights airlines brexit Comments (0)

Le Temps Perdu

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Edinburgh to Dublin

Edinburgh to Dublin

My first visit to Dublin was on Friday 23rd March 1990. On 29th March 2019, there I was again 29 years later.

(I have visited several times in between.)

The date of that first visit is easy to pinpoint. I was in the city on a day trip for a meeting. After it, I felt the urge to try a pint of Guinness in a Dublin pub before heading back to the airport. The pub I chose was full of Welsh rugby fans, in the city for the Ireland v Wales game the next day.

Scotland’s rugby team had surprised championship favourites England the Saturday before, and won the Grand Slam in the process. As soon as I opened my mouth to order my pint in that pub, the Scottish accent produced cheers and singing (some of it slightly unkind towards our English cousins).

Black Stuff

Black Stuff

Needless to say, I didn’t pay for my pint… nor the second one.

The meeting had been about my law firm’s preparations for the creation of the EU Single Market in 1992. We had plans to set up a network of collaborating law firms throughout the EU. I met a Dublin firm to discuss it all.

Mathesons

Mathesons

The Dublin firm did not join in the project, but the meeting did lead to a productive bilateral relationship lasting many years. They were fantastic to work with.

Scotland & Ireland

Scotland & Ireland

Last month I was there because I did not want to be in Britain on Brexit day. The reasons are not easy to explain, but something deep inside me felt the need to express my revulsion in some symbolic way. Dublin is a quick and easy place to visit from Scotland.

Cruising

Cruising

Applying for political asylum did cross my mind, but May got a postponement of the Brexit date and the immediate crisis passed.

Posted by IainT 12:11 Archived in Ireland Tagged planes ireland transport flights airlines brexit Comments (0)

Sanity or Madness

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Very Apt

Very Apt

 

Brexit is a painful event for me. The reasons why are too many to bore you with.
 
The prospect of Scotland being forced out of the EU on 29th March in a disastrous, no-deal scenario was enough to get me really on edge. My fix was to book a flight to Dublin for that day.
 
Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus

My thinking was the whole event would have a slightly better perspective from Ireland , and I know the media reporting there has been intelligent and sophisticated. Then I decided the obvious next step was to cross “the border” the next day, into the North.
 
The possibility of a no deal Brexit meant the road crossing into the Irish part of the UK had the potential to be truly messed up with customs checks, so I booked a seat on the lunchtime train from Dublin to Belfast . Then I organised a flight home from Belfast on the Sunday afternoon.
 
I even managed to find a good ice hockey game to see in Belfast on the Saturday night.

Warm Up

Warm Up


 
So far, so good.
 
Of course almost as soon as I had paid my money, May decided to go for a postponement.
 
Well, in spite of that I had a good time. Dublin was wonderful compared to the misery of Brexit Britain . Brexit will be very damaging for Ireland of course, even if a deal can be done. Everyone I spoke to wanted to know if I am pro-Brexit, and loved it when my vehement anti-Brexit views came out.

Black Stuff

Black Stuff


 
Crossing the open border on the train was a moment to relish. How long will it remain open? Is it about to be an EU 3rd country border, and so subject to all the customs and immigration checks which follow from it?

Glass House

Glass House


 
For those who have never crossed the border, at the moment you do not even know you have crossed it - somewhere between the stations at Dundalk and Newry.
 
I had to wonder what the people in Belfast think about it all. The North voted to remain in the EU. It benefits massively from EU membership. The EU was instrumental in bringing about the Good Friday Agreement, which has produced 20 years of peace after 30 years of violence. London is happy to throw it all down the toilet in exchange for political support from the DUP – who opposed the GFA and want Brexit.

Docklands, Belfast

Docklands, Belfast


 
Well, I had a nice hotel and the ice hockey was good, as was my flight back to Edinburgh .

Posted by IainT 13:28 Archived in Ireland Tagged planes scotland edinburgh sport ireland transport flights ice_hockey airlines belfast brexit Comments (1)

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