I didn’t manage an entry last night, because to be perfectly honest, I got to the hotel, ate dinner and immediately passed out.
Yesterday I left Dublin on the ferry, which although I was nervous about it, was a remarkably easy process, then I caught a train from Holyhead (pronounced Holly-head), Wales to Chester, England where my hotel was for the night, I could have gotten an earlier train and gone straight through to my destination – Newport, Wales, but I really wasn’t sure about timing and didn’t want to find myself rushing in a panic trying to collect my luggage and find a train. Plus, I was tired and needed a short day.I also could have flown and not wasted the better part of two days on the ferry and the train… but I wanted to see some of the country and not just skip over it and only see my departure point and final stop. Sometimes it really is just as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
I shouldn’t have worried. When the ferry arrived in Holyhead, I disembarked via a shuttle bus to the terminal, picked up my luggage immediately off the conveyor belt and walked to the other side of the small building, which was the train station. So I had a little extra time to wait, but there were seats and wifi and plenty of people watching.
Traveling by ferry and train has actually been a great experience – I’d done the ferry before as part of a tour group, but never by myself and I’d never traveled much by train. But the U.K. has a fantastic train network and it is SO EASY. Especially if you have a smartphone. I downloaded an app (Trainline) and I’m able to look up where I need to go and purchase tickets right from my phone. I can track the train and see if it’s delayed and what time it will arrive and what platform to go to – which is helpful if the departure board is all in Welsh… it just makes the whole experience less stressful for a newbie and I imagine far more convenient for people who use it all the time.
When you show up to the station, there’s plenty of people to ask where you’re going and what to do, and everyone has been very nice. You can buy a general ticket – any open seat or purchase a reserved seat. I opted for a general seat because I wasn’t traveling at a busy time and also I’m cheap. I was a little worried about my luggage – wondering how that would work, but each car has a little luggage rack and you just stick your bags on and take a seat.
I imagine each station is different, but the small ones I went through were easy to navigate.
When I got to Chester, my hotel was about 10 minutes away, so I took a cab from the station – I could have taken the bus, but I didn’t feel like trying it with a suitcase and all. The hotel was a little Holiday Inn with a restaurant- it was in a business park, a bit far from everything, so I decided to just eat there and have an early night. My original plan was to take the bus or a taxi back into town and explore a little, but I decided an early night was not a bad thing and had a very good pizza and cider in the hotel restaurant.
This morning I got a cab from the hotel back to the station – really only a few pounds more than the bus and much quicker, had a coffee and a muffin and got on the train, easy as that. My next stop is Newport, Wales and the ancient home of the Morgan family – Mom’s maiden name was Morgan, and I traced the family tree all the way back there. It sounds like they were quite the bunch and I’m excited to see Tredegar House, which is now owned and operated by the National Trust.