7/07/2012

Getting to Iona

I am a nervous traveler. I check and double check everything and imagine creative things to worry about. Still, I have missed a few important details on this trip, which has not made me more relaxed. So I was frustrated trying to figure out exactly how I was going to get to Iona, especially since my family was going home. I had to figure this part out myself. When I asked people they were all a bit dismissive, like it was no big deal. Websites and guidebooks list phone numbers and the steps -- train, ferry, coach, ferry -- but I still had many unanswerable questions. What time must I take the train from Queen Street in Glasgow? how do I find the ferry? How much is it, and what if I do not have a reservation? Where will I eat lunch? How will I find the bus station? Do I need a reservation? I know I need to pay in cash; how much? What if I don't have enough cash for the return trip, since theere are no paypoints on Iona? How do I find the ferry to Iona? How do I know what time to take each step? But I set out Thursday morning on the 8:21 train from Glasgow Queen street to Oban. From there the journey completely unfolded, as if just by getting on the train at 8:21 in Glasgow there could be no other destination than Iona. After leaving the train I followed the crowd to the ferry, which is right there. The nice young woman behind the counter sold me all the ferry tickets I would need for the whole journey. I rode the ferry -- even found some cheese and crackers, and it was a stunning day -- and then disembarked to a row of Bowman's coaches. One said Fiohnnport, and I put my luggage underneath and paid Collin 12 pounds for a two way ticket, open ended (like every ticket I have. I could stay for weeks as far as the transportation people are concerned.) He dropped us all off at the ferry for Iona which seemed to be waiting for us. I asked him what time I needed to start my return journey, because obviously that is the key -- start right and it unfolds from there. I will mention that the bus ride is stunningly beautiful and utterly terrifying. Each road is barely one lane with a bump out every few hundred feet. So every few minutes the bus came to a complete stop while a car, truck, or another bus inched alongside. So inbetween my silent oohs and ahhs I swore and screamed (silently still) all the way across Mull and chanted to myself, "No way would I drive here." Now that I am here I sort of get why no one lays out the details. It is part of the process of trust, and of this particular journey. On the train I kept saying to myself, "Can you just trust that this is where you need to be and it will be fine?" Iona feels like the end of the world, and you can't get there quickly. The pace, the smell, the sound, the feel of it is so different than in cities. It will be a shock to return. It is probably good it will take seven hours, something like being reborn from the silent care of the womb to the noise and shock of the world. At least now I trust that, once I start, I will find my way.

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