Homeward bound - Gary returns from Poland. The final Euro 2012 InterRail blog.
Home sweet home despite a predictably unpredictable return journey. Rewinding back to last Monday and what already seems like a lifetime ago, Poznan square was as hectic as ever as the local volunteers thanked the Irish, Croats and Italians for visiting. The soft spot was most definitely held for the boys in green as they conducted a rapturous round of applause and sang Irish chants. Now a regular occurance, we responded with a rendition of "polska bialo czerwoni".
Irish flags hung around the perimeter of the old square like an art gallery an it was well worth doing a lap to read the hilarious snippets of Irish humour. Five hours of singing, dancing and drinking followed before heading to the stadium one last time for more of the same. Despite an improved performance, it was largely a case of Deja Vu for many of us. Silly mistakes, Shay Given howler, no striking prowess, dumbfounding team selection and ultimately defeat. Full time was followed by a view of the league table that we propped up on zero points with one goal scored and nine conceded. Despite the chant, the group was not upside down.
For everyone watching at home, you will not need me to tell you how great our fans were again. Although we didn't score, we turned our back to the pitch for our Poznan celebration upon winning a corner kick. In response to the goals conceded, our chants were directed at Roy Keane "we'll sing when we want". Refusing to accept it was all over, we descended back into Poznan for one last night.
The pictures below from the final matchday shows us as we caught up again with the Angela Merkel boys, the Honey Monster, Jim the bell ringer in his match attire and finally internet sensation and internationally renowned boob-licker Eamon Keegan:
By the time we were partied out, we just wanted to get home. Back to life, back to reality, back to work. The two day journey over there was all part of the craic, but we had no heart to replicate it once homeward bound. As camper fans pulled out of Poznan, the windows were pictures of broken and depressed men wanting to be put out of their misery. For most people, the thought of coming home had never crossed their mind. It was now a sad reality. Flights from Poland are incredibly expensive this week, and we spoke to many who chose to remain there until Friday when the fares return to normal.
We found a relatively decent fare with Aer Lingus from Berlin at 10AM this morning and snapped it up. Berlin is less than three hours by rail and in honesty we would have paid anything to get back on Irish soil today. We checked the rail website and saw a train from Poznan leaving at 3AM which would give us plenty of time to make the flight, it seemed foolproof. Without sleep, we said goodbye at 2am and left for Poznan central railway station.
The station was almost empty, but there were some Irish lads using the floor as a bed for the night. The platform was pitch dark, slightly spooky, and we both got the feeling this may not be as straight forward as we imagined. By the time the train arrived, there was maybe 15 Irish lads and then one of the most surreal mornings of my life kicked into full swing. The train from Russia refused to let us on for a reason they could not articulate in English. Knowing that we needed to get this train, we all barged on only to be forcefully removed and thrown back on the platform. What was going on!? This was last chance saloon, no more money to find another route home, and we were all desperate and in agreement that the train could not leave without us on it. As we protested from the platform, I noticed the guy in the picture below.
As he stood in front of the train on the railway line, he informed the driver that unless we were on board, the train was going nowhere. The Police soon arrived, arrested the man and restrained the rest of us so that the train could leave. We remained helplessly at the station. The next train would not get us to Berlin in time for the flight.
Suddenly remembering that the Celtic Horizons bus was leaving at 5AM, we ran to meet it for one last throw of the dice. The driver told us he planned to drive the whole way home, including two ferry journeys and almost two days travelling but he would be happy to bring us. Two days was not an option for us but on his way to the Holland ferry, he would be taking the autobahn south of Berlin. At 8AM we jumped out at an autobahn service station. The flight was in two hours, and we werent exactly sure where we were, or where we were supposed to be. When the taxi driver asked us which one of 3 Berlin airports we wanted, we lost all hope altogether. How many more obstacles could there be! Imagine our amazement, and relief, as we took our seat on flight EI331 to Dublin at 9.45. I'd say the taxi man is going to take the rest of the week off!
It was a crazy night to end a crazy trip and we both made it home in one piece. I could sleep for a week, but I set my alarm clock for work tomorrow. Reflecting on the past two weeks it seems like an eternity, in the best possible way. An absolutely incredibleand unforgettable trip that I'm glad to have somewhat captured with the blog. Thanks a million to irishrail.ie for the opportunity, and the highs and lows. The video below attempts to capture some of the many highs and lows of the rocky road to Poland!
Railway Lines blog adds: We want to sincerely thank Gary O'Reilly for providing us with such brilliant, lively, funny, warts and all blogs daily throughout Ireland's time at Euro 2012.
We also want to say sorry to Gary and his sidekick Garry Kenna that the accommodation provided as part of the prize proved to be so sub-standard. Like Gary, we were somewhat dazzled by the fancy website, and in our desire to give Gary the "real" InterRail experience, it all got a little TOO real!
Our sinere thanks also to Celtic Horizon Tours for contacting us and finding the lads proper accommodation for the rest of their stay, which we will be reimbursing Gary for.
We're only sorry the boys in Green are out, and we couldn't continue the tale in Ukraine. We hope you've enjoyed the Euro 2012 blog! Roll on World Cup 2014 in Brazil!
There are 4 Comments
Jun 20, 2012 at 4:50pm
Really enjoyed this blog, checked in every day to read Gary's misadventures. Brilliant prize InterRail Ireland. Fair Play.
Jun 20, 2012 at 6:59pm
Great blog fair play to the lads they made me feel like I was there with them, even though at times i'm glad I wasn't!
Jun 20, 2012 at 9:02pm
Brilliant Gary! Kept me entertained and actually felt like I was there with you two! Think you have a new career!!
Jun 22, 2012 at 9:49am
Brilliant, enjoyed every blog. Well done.
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