Rather than take a cab to the port, we decided to walk from the apartment. It wasn’t a terribly long walk, but it was early, and we hadn’t had our coffee or tea yet. Dragging our backpacks, we finally entered the gangplank to board the Ulysses and cross the Irish Sea to Holyhead. We booked our rail and sail tickets thanks very much to the advice of The Man in Seat 61. I was a little apprehensive at traveling by boat, train, and tube all in one day, but we did it successfully!
After boarding the ferry, we grabbed some seats and a quick breakfast. We had all the best intentions to go out on deck and see the sea and the approach to Wales… but we took Dramamine and promptly fell asleep in our seats. I woke up just in time to see the British Isles from the window, and watch the boat maneuver into Holyhead Port in Wales. We had a little bit of time to look around Wales, but being neurotic and worried about missing our train, we limited our selves to a quick view off the bridge and a jaunt around the giftshop (dragon key chain and ALL the tangfastics, wine gummies, and galaxy minstrels!).
The train from Holyhead to London was PACKED. Apparently Virgin Trains overbooked, and we felt lucky to have seats, even if we weren’t next to each other. People were standing in the aisles, and we didn’t even get trolley service (I really wanted some Harry Potter style roving snack cart action – so this was a huge disappointment). Luckily we had stocked up on candy in the giftshop so we got all sugared up as we rode along the coast, through the mountains, and across the beautiful countryside.
The Man in Seat 61 posted this video, which shows the journey from beginning to end (only in the opposite direction that we went in):
As you can see in the video, it is a gorgeous way to travel, with castles, seas, and TONS of sheep along the way. The Snowdonia Mountains were particularly gorgeous, and occasionally we would spot a ruined castle atop a hill – perfect. Snowdonia National Park is the largest in Wales, and one of the original 3 National Parks established there. Wales is arguably one of the most beautiful places we saw in our travels, and I’d love to spend more time there off the train.
The weirdest part of the trip was definitely Will Ferrell/Ron Burgundy narrating the bathroom experience. We also passed what seemed like the world’s biggest trailer park. We also heard some of the dumbest words ever uttered on the train: American Man: “What language do you think that is out there on that sign?” American Man’s Girlfriend: “ummm, Welsh?”
Finally, we pulled into Euston Station, changed some Euros to Sterling Pounds, and headed down to the famous Tube stations to catch a ride to Waterloo Station in Southbank… we had no trouble navigating (or staying on the standing side of the escalators so as not to incur the wrath of angry Londoners) and made it to our home neighborhood for the next several days. By this time, we were exhausted from travel, hungry, and not thinking terribly clearly. Our host’s instructions were fantastic, but we managed to come out the wrong exit and get turned around. Luckily, a kind Liverpudlian walked us to the correct street and virtually patted us on the head as he sent us on the correct path to the Cut (everyone was SO NICE there – if a bit snarky).
We got in the flat, threw our stuff down, and headed to the closest pub, the Windmill Tavern for some pints and chicken curry. Rather than explore, we settled in to prepare for a full day of London the next day…