It had been 6 weeks since we arrived in the UK, so by the time it was time to go, it was time to go. Our plan was to drive down to Rosslare and take a 19-hour ferry to Cherbourg, France. We’d then take a bit of time driving to Belgium, where we would then spend a couple of days in the Ardennes, then back up to Flanders. Great.

In the true spirit of our trip, when we arrived at the ferry terminal, it was closed. OK, not closed, but we were told by the incomprehensibly rude checkpoint woman that our ferry to Cherbourg was cancelled. Pardon? “The FERRY to CHERBOURG was CANCELLED. Go park over there in that line of cars that isn’t moving .” Yes, apparently there had been a fire on our boat (i.e. “technical problem”). We were told that the ferry was “hoping” to leave the next evening. In the meantime, it was up to us to scramble to find hotel accommodations in this dead corner of the perpetually-closed country. Luckily, we did, and despite the fruit flies found piled at the bottom of Joris’ double whiskey, it wasn’t a bad evening. And we had it better than the bus full of 66 French students on a school trip, also stranded.

The next day, we killed time as best we could in nearby Wexford, a lovely town that completely runs out of interesting things after two hours. We had at least 6 more before our ferry was supposed to go. “Why don’t you call just to make sure it’s still on?” Amanda says. Two minutes later, “It’s cancelled again.” “You’re joking.” “No I’m not.” “Stop it, you’re joking.” “No I’m not.” etc. Joris was not joking, our ferry was cancelled again. Again, it was now “hoping” to leave the NEXT evening. Did we mention that we were done with Ireland at this point?

In the end, we did this: we left that evening — 24 hours after our original ferry — on a different ferry to Fishguard, Wales. We arrived in Wales at 1:00 am, Joris drove through the night across England, where we left Dover at 10:00 am. We arrived in Dunkirk, France at noon, and Joris drove another hour to his house in Hamme. No sleep, no leisurely 19-hour ferry, no stroll through France and the Ardennes. Energy drinks, coffee, crappy food, and haggling with the ferry for reimbursement. Alas.

Ireland, we love you deeply, regardless.