Early morning start for us today and I am barely awake. Spent a good deal of time the night before vacuuming and cleaning up our holiday rental. Even the dog was not ready for such an early start to his day.
The early morning sunlight was a welcome sight. It was a good day for driving and the morning sun cast such an amazing golden hue over everything, it really put me in a good mood for this was the day I had been waiting for for over a year … we were finally heading to Ireland for real.
The ferry we were taking departs from Pembroke Docks in Wales, which is about a 4-hr drive from where we were in Cornwall. We left the house super early because we did not want to be stuck in weekday rush hour traffic, and to give ourselves a bit of a margin just in case we needed to stop for food or the loo.
We crossed the river Severn at about 9-ish and we knew we were making good time. Everything was calm and the dog was still snoring in the back seat.
The river Severn forms a natural border between England and Wales, and at 354 km, it is the longest river in the British Isles. The river source starts in Plynlimon, Wales and empties out into the Bristol channel which in turn empties out into the Celtic sea.
Using this bridge allows you to cut your journey across to Wales by many miles, but there is a £6.50 toll to pay.
Along the way we stopped for a coffee break and to feed the sleepy dog at a town called Carew. We were a touch early, did not manage to get coffee from the local pub (coz they only open from 11 am onwards) so we did not longer. We did however manage to snap a few photos of the castle ruins that was nearby, Carew castle. This castle is as old as the hills, pre-dating the Norman invasion of England I think, and if you want to explore the rest of the castle you will need to part with £5, per adult ticket. We obviously thought otherwise, took photos of the outside and left. It looks pretty nice from the front but I think you’d get a better view if you actually went around the castle and took pictures with the lake in view.
Anyway, must move on … I still hadn’t had my cup of coffee.
Our ferry only departed at 14:45 hours but we got to Pembroke town centre at 11 am; ample time now for a bite to eat (and that long awaited coffee).
As we got to the town centre we noticed that a portion of a carpark had been cordoned off and security personnel were everywhere. Also present in large numbers were great big trailers and caravans that had satellite dishes on their roofs. I thought a breaking news story was going down but no one seemed to be rushing or reporting. Then R. said it had to be a film crew. Oooooh! I wonder what was being filmed … a BBC period drama? Poldark? Downton Abbey??
Nooo! The local towns people told us that they were filming a Hollywood blockbuster, starring Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones (plays Daenerys Targaryen), Sam Claflin of The Hunger Games (plays Finnick Odair) and Matthew Lewis of the Harry Potter series (plays Neville Longbottom). The film, called Me Before You, is an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Jojo Moyes and is set to be released sometime in 2016.
It would seem Pembrokeshire is quite the hotspot for movies, having had an impressive list of Hollywood hits already in the past including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2009), Robin Hood (2010) and Snow White & the Huntsman starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth (2012).
I got lucky and managed to sneak a couple shots here on one side of the lake.
On the other side however stands a more impressive sight … the very regal and imposing Pembroke Castle, built in 1093.
Now I know I seem to imply (in the title) that it takes 15-hrs to get from Wales to Ireland but that isn’t really true. We left Cornwall really really early and then spent a large chunk of it waiting in Pembroke for time to board the ferry. We got to Pembroke Docks about midday, after dropping into Food @ Williams for a bite to eat. Sat in the car for about an hour before they started allowing vehicles thru the gates to the loading area. Once at the loading area we had to wait even longer for the port authorities to finish loading all the trailers and large cargo first. This took well over an hour as shipping container after shipping container were driven up the ramps one by one.
Leaving the British isles is easy … no one cares that you are leaving. Only vans and trucks get searched by customs officers. But once you emerge on the other side then everyone must go thru the usual immigration and border checks by the garda.
Once onboard you leave your vehicle and climb two decks up to reach the passenger areas. Doggies are not permitted up here, unfortunately. We had to stuff ours in the kennels below, on the same level as the cars, and he was not amused. Poor thing was a bit shaken by the experience of suddenly being separated from us for the duration of the ferry journey, a total of 4-hours.
There is no charge to put your dog in one of these kennels on this particular ferry. In fact, I don’t think there was a charge to bring our dog on board, period. Total cost for the ferry was about £205 for the car + 2 adults. Total time on board is 4-hours and you can opt for regular seats or book a private cabin at extra cost. The ferry only runs 2x per day at twelve hour intervals. We were very tired by then but we decided to suck it up and just opt for regular seating instead of booking the cabins.
Inside the ferry was very nice … it has a cruise ship kinda feel to it with a huge foyer and a reception desk. Thick carpets everywhere, plush seats and couches, coffee bars, cafes, soft music playing overhead.
Up on deck 8 there was a large eating and dining section and passangers were busy getting their hot lunch. Also on this deck is the liners souvenir shop which looked very much like those Duty Free outlets you see at airports. Further down, if you are bored or you have kids to entertain, you can spend time in the arcade room which comes complete with Pokies machine as well for all your gambling comforts. Lolz.
At the very top on deck 9 is the viewing gallery. I don’t think there is an outdoor area so if you want to take in the views then it would have to be from here or thru the port windows in the lounge areas.
I puked en route. 🙁
I did, and it was not pleasant. I thought I would be immune to the ships rocking because it is a big ferry and the captain swore he would be using stabilizers to ballast the ship! Evidently this was not good enough. Cruising thru the channel was not a problem … everything was smooth and I was still very excited. But once we hit open waters the sway on the ferry was very pronounced and I felt its effects almost immediately. I tried to distract myself by looking outside the windows into the horizon but that did not help. I looked down at my feet and it made things worse. Then R. attempted to help keep me occupied by playing cards with me but with each hand I felt like my head was going to explode.
We took a 5-min break from cards to go check on the dog on the car deck … and it seemed the walk did me some good. However, the moment I sat down again my head started swimming. The boyfriend went off in search of a bottle of water but returned too late … I could no longer manage even a sip of it. I stumbled my way to the loo and hurled my gutts out.
The rest of the journey saw me lying face down on one of the sofas with a scarf under my head for a pillow. I did not want to look at anything. I simply shut my eyes tightly and focused on my breathing until we pulled into port at Rosslare.
An extra 90-mins later we finally arrive at our destination ~ home for the next few weeks while we get things set up for real life. The wonderful thing about this place is Jack, Mac & Ernie, the three adorable Jack Russell terriers that live in the main farm house across the way.
It was about 9 pm by the time we arrived and we were dead tired, but happy to finally be here. It has been a long drive and a rather uncomfortable ferry journey for me … oh well, least I made it in once piece. It is very cold here for some reason; thank God the nice people who showed in to the house had lit a nice fire for us. Lovely folks. They even had the fridge filled with essentials like milk, eggs, bacon and juice for us.
Far too tired for much else, we had a bite to eat and then we turned in for the night. Zzzzz …. welcome to Ireland.
~ The End ~