We were still in the thick of Dublin's city centre, just wandering around while trying to catch a cab. It was a bit of a task. We thought that there would be tons of cabs just driving around, waiting to be hailed by needy pedestrians (Hollywood is wrong yet again). As it turns out, there aren't many cabs moseying down the streets of Dublin on a Sunday morning despite it being a gorgeous day at the tail-end of tourist season. There were plenty of people milling the streets, but there wasn't an unoccupied cab to be found. As we made our way on foot back toward the side of town we needed to be on, we searched and searched for a cab, and then we tried to figure out how we could call a cab to pick us up - we had to get back to the B&B (they were kindly holding our luggage) and make our way to the ferry station as soon as possible.
We eventually found a cab and thanked him profusely for picking us up; time was running short and we were feeling a bit desperate and extremely thankful. Our driver (an older gentleman whose name I never caught) was just as glad to see us - apparently, there isn't much of a need for cabs on Sundays, but he was a self-employed cab-driver as his second job so he took a chance and went to work. We're so glad that he did! We asked him if he wouldn't mind taking us to the B&B and then to the ferry station, and of course he was very glad to do so.
During our drive, we had the most lovely chat with him as he was extremely friendly. He told us quite a bit of local history that I promptly forgot, and we got to learn a bit about himself as well - his wife died when their children were relatively young and he provided for them as a single father ever since. He gave us a really, really good rate on our cab fare (it was quite a long drive with two destinations...). We paid him for our ride and begrudgingly exited the cab, but I held on to the memory of our lovely conversation. He was such a sweet man that it made me sad to leave Dublin so quickly, and we were so very glad to have been picked up by him in the knick of time! But now it was time to hop back on that ginormous boat and get back to England.
But first, Wales!
MAN, that ferry ride was rocky - much more so than our first trip! It also consisted of a rather exciting rugby game being broadcast on the ship: it was Ireland vs England in the world cup or something like that, but being as we were coming from Ireland and going to England, there were quite a few enthusiastic fans on board.
Our ferry took us from the ports of Dublin to the port in Holyhead, Wales. We had about an hour and a half of spare time in Holyhead before our train left for Birmingham, so we decided to do a bit of exploring. And boy am I glad we did!
You might recall the above photo from my That's A Laugh post. It still makes me laugh every time I look at it! My poor momma...
"Here, we were at an ancient Roman fortress, begun in the 13th century, that eventually became church grounds and a school... and my mom stepped in some dog poop on our route there. She was so irritated, but I couldn't help but laugh, and this was the first spot of grass that we saw. When I realized where we were and that she nearly scraped off dog poop onto someone's grave, I nearly lost it! I couldn't help but laugh!"
The photos below explain the history of the fortress and of Saint Cybi - first in Welsh, then in English. I think this stuff is fascinating!
The picture below shows an iron wall-mounted sculpture depicting the journey of Saint Cybi as described above. I loved it because it blended in with its surroundings so well that I didn't even notice it at first!
After exploring the Roman fortress-turned-church and streets of town, we wandered back to the train station. The station itself wasn't much to look at, but there were some fantastically old details - lights, locks, chipped doors, bricks, tunnels, flowers beds, the works. First, we had to stop and buy my mom another book to inhale on our long ride back to Birmingham; then we walked the length of the station, pausing at the end of the platform for a while because it was beautiful and had lots of fresh air.
We then had the following conversation, which she led:
"Parlez vous français?"
"Blah blah blah?" (I don't know what exactly she said, but I knew she asked if I spoke German.)
"Well what do you speak?"
Mind you, the questions she asked me (which I answered) previously were in English. Ahem.
One of her friends wandered by at some point and she eventually left us alone, but I distinctly remember my mother and I eyeing each other as the train approached - we made sure to get on the train with a few carriages between us and our new pal. If you recall, our train ride to Wales the first time included another socially-awkward person and we were trying to not have a repeat of that situation. Hah! So much for that... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The ride back to England was mostly uneventful and it was incredibly beautiful. The sunset along the coast and the Welsh countryside were stunning. We even stopped at the infamous Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch train stop. What a name!
My mom and I were completely content reading our books and enjoying the scenery. However, the closer we got to Birmingham, the more people came on the train; the more people came on the train, the more the number of drunk people within our carriage increased. Oy. I guess there's not much to do on a Saturday night but to drink and go to the big city.
I'll let my previous self recap this train ride (again, from my That's a Laugh post):
"Our trip from Holyhead was on a Saturday night, and boy was that a mistake. We noticed that people were dressed up (if that's what you can call it) for what looked to be a night out on the town. The closer we got to civilization, the more lively the passengers became. By the end of it, the majority of the train was drunk-drunk-drunk and conducting a really terrible session of karaoke. We just had to laugh. I almost punched one of them, though, when he walked up and down the aisle putting his hand on everyone's head - he got my mom, but he tried to touch me and my bitch face scared him away (sorry, that's the only good term for what it is... and I have a good one). We got into Birmingham after 11pm and just had to laugh as we relayed the events to Patrick!"
We eventually made it back to our hotel in Birmingham, safe and sound. We had one day left before my mom was scheduled to leave on Monday morning, and we had decided that we would go to Stratford-upon-Avon - the birthplace, home, and resting place of William Shakespeare himself! It was an English teacher's dream come true.