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SCS366M The journey home - Part 3 - Northern Ireland and Ferry Journey
Stena Galloway at Belfast, loading for Stranraer on the Saturday evening.

Port of Belfast

Sure enough a gale was blowing as I arrived in Belfast. I made straight for the port, and to my astonishment discovered that the sailing had not been cancelled. The bus was hidden somewhere in the middle of Montgomery Transport lorries but it was positively going to travel. This was the last major obstacle in the exercise.

City Airport

It was drawing dark as I drove to Belfast City Airport to return the car. Unusually, rental cars are deposited miles away from the terminal, which is all good and well on a fine summerís day.   But as I stood in the magnificent desolation that is Belfast City Airport long term car park, waiting for a bus back to civilisation, I realised that my whole journey could end right there and then. So I walked the half mile to the terminal building.

Chaos and Confusion

I took a taxi from the airport to the harbour. At the terminal, the friendly Stena staff escorted me through the building, and showed me up the stairs to the waiting area. The hall was full of people, looking as though they were waiting for the last boat out, before some cataclysmic event occurred. They all had the rabbit-in-the-headlights look that said "please release me, let me go". All the free Daily Records had been read, and lay strewn over the floor, the seats and the humans. The pride of the Stranraer fleet for the past 20 years - the Galloway Princess -finally docked. Suddenly everyone was gone and I found myself on the car deck looking for SCS.   As if by magic it appeared, and as the shunter crashed the gears while reversing it into position I almost said "be careful - thatís my bus !"

A life on the ocean wave

The ship departed 30 minutes late, and as it cruised up Belfast Loch, I watched the impromptu display of fireworks on all sides.  I guess this was to celebrate Guy Fawkes a week early - and not the progress of the bus.  The captain assured the ragged passengers that the stabilisers would be in use, and amazingly they seemed to do the job.  Sailing through the pitch dark night over stormy seas, I hadnít felt so comfortable in a long time. Soon the familiar sweeping light of Corsewall lighthouse was visible and I informed those brave enough to endure the howling gale on deck, that land was definitely ahoy. Loch Ryan was the safe haven as always and we arrived at Stranraer only minutes late. I was pleased to be home and even more pleased to see the bus safely unloaded and waiting for me portside.


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