A great visit with family in Shrewsbury and Ellesmere, with stops in Liverpool and a day trip to Wales!
02.04.2015 - 09.04.2015 10 °C
Prior to heading out to England we needed to bridge a gap in accommodations by shacking up at Isaac's hostel which is located near the business district in Dublin and just a couple blocks north of the River Liffey. Nice hostel, friendly staff, but I am not going to lie, it was pretty tough leaving our beautiful and comfortable accommodations with James and Jaro to settle into the world of bunkbeds and shared rooms. What are you going to do though - chalk that up as a good old first world problem when travelling. Isaac's was an interesting stay as on the first night we got treated to soothing late night/early morning drunken carrying ons by some German gents - who were not even in our bloody room! These beauties got back from their night out in Dublin around 3:30 in the morning, crashed into the room beside ours and then proceeded to carry on like they were the only people in the entire city! They were like a couple of schools girls laughing and babbling on, but the worst part was likely that we couldn't understand what the hell they were saying! It was a 35-40 minute roller coaster ride of unbearable noise that would slide into short breaks of silence where you would get your hopes up that they had finally passed out, only to have your prayers shattered by some more uncontrollable laughter and even some wonderful yelling! My despise for these fella's was at an all time high, but eventually they did pass out and we got a few winks of sleep in our room before daylight made its way through the curtains. Well, I can't say we got even with these guys, but what I can say for sure is that everyone in our room made no attempt to be quite for them when started having our showers and using the washroom outside their room in the morning. I am sure a few people are asking why we didn't do something about it the night before and all I can say is, once you get your grown ass into a bunkbed, it takes a lot to get you out if it, especially in the middle of the night in a sleep depraved state where the chances of hitting your head or tripping are very good. I mean, I have suffered through having to take a leak for hours before, just to avoid having to crawl out of my cramped up bunkbed - no joke! On our second night at Isaacs we met up with a couple of our roommates and went for dinner and drinks just around the corner from our hostel. One of the girls was from Canada and she was teaching over in England, while the other girl was from Italy and she has her own business in Ayurveda massage. Sherry and her had tons to chat about this Ayurveda is an area that Sherry takes special interest in. We had a great time out with the girls and at the very least we had endeared them enough to not have them be to mad at us for needing to get up at 4:00 am to head for the airport.
As with most morning flights, the time to peel ourselves out of bed came way to early. After getting all of our unnecessary luggage stored in the lockup at the hostel for safe keeping while we were gone, it was off to the airport to catch our RyanAir flight. I had heard lots about these budget RyanAir fights and I was keen to see what they were all about. Hell, I was just ready to see what a 30 minute flight was like after all the crazy long journeys we had taken in our travels leading up to Ireland. Surprisingly enough the flight itself was comfortable and it was only 30 minutes before we landed on the east side of the Irish Sea in Liverpool! Sherry's Aunt Marj and Uncle Phil were there to greet us as we made our way out of the airport. After arriving in so many airports as strangers, left to our own devises to find our way to the next hotel, hostel or apartment that we would be calling home for awhile, It was really nice to see familiar faces smiling and waiting for you . It was the exact same feeling we had when Joe and Angel were there to meet us way back in Australia. Thinking that the plan was just to load up our stuff in the car and make tracks to Ellesmere I was already planning on how I might nod off to sleep in the car while hopefully controlling the unflattering things a persons body can do while relaxed and asleep. My quandary was quickly nixed as we would be treated to a surprise tour around Liverpool, compliments of our new tour guides, Marj and Phil! We made our way throughout the city making stops at such iconic locations as the Diocese of Liverpool and the Albert Docks where there is a Beetles tribute showcase, along with a museum which at that time was putting on an exhibition detailing the slave trade that took place through the docks of Liverpool over the years. The Albert Docks are a really beautiful area, with shops, restaurants and many other interesting stops which are scattered throughout the old shipping storage buildings (http://www.liverpoolwaterfront.org/albert-dock.aspx). The weather was a little on the cool side temperature wise, but that was secondary as it was a beautiful sunny day and that was enough to wipe the sleep away from our eyes as we toured around the docks. One of the iconic things for tourists to take part in while visiting Liverpool is a trip across the River Mersey on the ferry. This ferry trip became inshrined in music history in 1964 when Gerry and the Pacemakers wrote the song "Ferry Cross the Mersey" which turned out to be a hit in both the UK and the USA. With all that backstory in mind, we happened to stumble upon what I am sure will be known as another iconic moment in the life of the Snowdrop Ferry that crosses the Mersey. As part of commemorations for the first world war, the same artist that created the famed Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, was also commissioned to repaint the Snowdrop Ferry in homage to anti-submarine ‘dazzle camouflage, and we just happened to be there for the launch of it all. When Marj went to grab us tickets to take the ferry across, she came back with 3 free tickets which would allow us to be onboard the Ferry for its maiden voyage with its new paint job. This was just shear luck of the draw in that this historical event was happening in Liverpool and we had a chance to be apart of it. Camera crews, local dignitaries and Sir Peter Blake himself were amongst the one hundred or so passengers that boarded the Ferry of the 30 minute harbour tour. This was one of those one off, random experiences that just worked out in our favour and we are happy to have been apart of it. Thanks Phil and Marj for the great introduction to Liverpool (Phil's hometown).
The rest of the week was filled with plenty of rest and relaxation, some easter egg hunts and fun tours around Wales and Shrewsbury. Ellesmere, which is just a short drive to Wales, would be our home base for the first 4 days. It is a small town and is filled with all those small town charms you get to know and love in England. Historic homes, narrow, winding streets, a few pubs and lots of local shops to peruse through. On our second day we were lucky enough to be treated to a great day trip to Wales. We had the chance to see canal boats, which in my eyes, are best described as RV’s on water. These bad boys are fully equipped with kitchen, bath, living areas and even wood stoves to keep things cosy on chilly spring nights. At just under 7 feet wide so they fi inside the canal walls and up to a max of 72 feet long so they fit inside the lock systems, these floating homes are a sight to see for the first timers to the UK and if you happen across the right owner you just might get a tour onboard. We spent the bulk of our day touring sights in and around Llganogollen. One of the more interesting stops was the historical site of Valle Crucis Abbey which was built in 1201 and then dissolved in the mid 1500's. The remaining structure is still very well persevered and as such, is certainly worth a stop. Not having a vehicle to get around, there is no way we would have gone and seen the places we did on our own, but thanks to Marj an Phill we were never short of things to do. It was extra special getting to spend Easter with family. Easter brought to us not only a whack load of chocolate, but also a sense of normalcy as we were celebrating a familiar holiday and we had family to share it with. Even when you are travelling with someone else you know very well or who may even be your spouse, it is still very easy to feel lonely amongst so many other strangers as you come and go from one place to the next. Easter brought back that sense of family comfort that showed up right on que as Sherry and I were both starting to get somewhat weary of our travels.
A two night stay in Shrewsbury was next on our agenda. We headed out with Sherry’s cousin Allie and her boyfriend Alex the day after Easter. Shrewsbury is a great town, with a population just over 100,000. It is definitely worth visiting if you are travelling in and around the midlands of England (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrewsbury). We were in good hands as Alex was born and raised there. We had been to Shrewsbury on previous travels to England with friends 5 years ago so we somewhat knew our way around which was nice, as both Allie and Alex had to work during the day - well except for the one day when they took the afternoon off to take us to a neighbouring town called Chester. As the story goes according to Alex he just told his boss that he needed time off to take “The Canadians” to Chester, to which his boss replied, sure, but do these Canadians have names. We were officially leverage in a time off negotiation and I couldn't have been prouder. We were very thankful to have Allie and Alex to take us to Chester as when we looked up the train prices, this stop was very quickly off of our things to do list based on cost. Chester is a great city, with lots of shopping, delicious food, historical churches and a beautiful horse racing track. Okay, so there is a good chance that I have just generically described a lot of towns in the UK but just in case Chester peaks your interest I have included their tourism link so you can do some research of your own (http://www.visitchester.com). It is located just South of Liverpool and is not too far from the Wales border if you wanted to slip over there during your travels. If you are keen on Roman history then Chester should certainly be on itinerary as it was originally settled as a Roman fort in the year 79 AD! So ya, its just a couple years old, with just a little bit of history going on there. There were no horse races on the day we made our tour to Chester, but Allie and Alex had both been to races and highly recommend taking one in if you ever have the time in your travels to that part of England.
Our final night in England was a short and sweet one back in Ellesmere. Short because we had to be up around 3:30 in the morning to leave for the airport and sweet because we got to spend that time with Allie, Alex, Marj and Phil. One last hang out with familiar faces before retuning to the obscurity of Dublin where we would be total strangers once again. This was not much of a concern though as our batteries were charged back up and some time exploring more of Dublin was something we both were looking forward to. Now it could have been all the Easter chocolate that we were jacked up on that gave us this feeling, but I am pretty sure it was genuine anticipation as we had only but a small taste of what Dublin had to offer in our first stop there. An early morning flight, a sleepy airport traversing and we were back on the streets of Dublin and headed to meet our new AirBnB host.
Shayne and Sherry