Ireland – Public Transportation – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
I am not a fan of driving. There are multiple factors for that fact. They include that my sense of direction is abysmal at best, which does not help that I do not like not knowing where I am going, and a nasty car accident I was in my senior year of high school. One of the best parts of studying abroad in Ireland is that there is absolutely no way for me to drive a car for the four months I am in Europe. I don’t have a car at CSS either, but I somehow always get roped into driving people around anyway.
The public transportation in Europe is a dream come true for a person like me. I would say Ireland is the least efficient at public transportation and they are still quite good at it. Living in Louisburgh does complicate the system though. In order to get to the airport for the travels we have done, it involves a lengthy process. We take a thirty minute cab ride to Westport, the nearest town with a train station. From there, we take a three and a half hour train ride to Dublin. After disembarking from the train, we take an bus ride that can take anywhere between one to one and a half hours to the airport. There, we get onto whatever plane we are about to catch. When I went to Paris for spring break, we left Louisburgh at 6:30 AM and landed in Paris at 9:45 that night. Returning was much worse. Our last spring break stop was Florence, Italy. We woke up at four in the morning to get to the airport by five. We had a layover in Paris that we missed due to a frankly ridiculous passport control line. When it was all said and done, we got back to Louisburgh at 8:30 that night. When accounting for the time change, we had traveled for sixteen hours that day.
[The trains in Athens were covered in really beautiful and colorful graffiti]
The public transportation systems in the other countries I have visited have been so useful and easy to use. In Athens and Paris, we took the metro everywhere. The really nice thing about the metro is that if you’ve wandered away from places you recognize, you can just walk down into the metro station, figure out where you are, and take the appropriate metros from there. When we were in Zurich, Switzerland, we took the tram around the city. That was also a very nice way to get around and see more things.
[The cable lines in Zurich for the trams]
Florence was the only place that we did not take public transport as much. We took a bus to our Airbnb and a taxi to the airport when we left (because we had to be at the airport at 5 in the morning and that was awful). However, that was it. We walked everywhere else. Florence is a very compact city to explore. That was also great, though, because we saved money on transportation. Because of the savings, I invested my money in eating gelato three times a day. It was roughly the same price as the metro had been in Paris so I did not feel bad about spending the money. I think we also walked enough during spring break to justify having a few treats each day.
I know this is not a completely fair comparison to transportation back home. The closest thing we have in Minnesota is the Light Rail or the public buses. I only use the Light Rail when I go to Twins games downtown because it doesn’t go anywhere I need to be on a regular basis. I also do not use the buses very often because they can be so unreliable and frustrating to use. However, if our public transportation in Minnesota was as easy and convenient to use as it was in these countries I visited, I would seriously consider investing in those instead of a car after I graduate next year.
Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.
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