September 27, 2019. Holyhead, Wales.
Soundtrack: Crypt Sermon – Key of Solomon
Since Holyhead was such a major historical port for trade between Dublin and the UK, I assumed it would have been metropolitanized. You know what happens when you assume.
I had a burger and a beer at the first place I saw, a roadside inn a few blocks from the combo dock/train station called “The Edinburgh Castle”. It should go without saying that it wasn’t, but the burger was pretty good. The tavern could sit about fifteen, but currently sat six. All were old and weathered, all were mean-mugging the handsome American interloper.
When in Yurp, I stay in hostels. This horrifies a lot of the casual globetrotters back in the real world because it’s supposed to be a vacation. Why go, if not to pampered?
Life is plenty pampered. The overwhelming majority of this country — certainly anyone financially blessed enough to be reading this — never misses a meal, sleeps in a soft bed every night, and almost never confronts their possible mortality. That’s amniotic. The meat husk is still running on paleolithic hardware, and if the mettle isn’t tested every so often, it recalibrates to a neurotic hypersensitivity that causes otherwise rational people to have real, physiologically demonstrable nervous conditions in response to poor voter turnout or twitter cyberbullying.
I’m abroad to see what abroad looks like. I know what Best Western looks like. If I wanted to be comfortable, I wouldn’t have left home. They named a whole zone after that.
Holyhead has one hostel, and it was booked solid. In fact, everything in town was booked up to accommodate the bustling weekend ferry business. On snatched handfuls of stolen WiFi, deep in the bowels of Edinburgh Castle, I booked my reservation at the only game in town.
It was about a mile walk to the Roadking Motel and Transport Cafe, and let me tell you: it’s a truck stop, if a surprisingly family oriented one. I tried to book a room in person and my cards were all declined. It took Wells Fargo 12 days to get wind of my overseas activity. I had been banking (#gottem) on them not noticing until after I was back.
The Welsh teenager at the desk gave me a temporary login that I used to download Skype onto my phone and WiFi call my bank. Fifteen minutes later, I had my very own private room at the Welsh truck stop. I decided to see the sights.
That was it. That was the sights.
Still, the Edinburger wouldn’t hold me the whole night. I made my way into town to forage.
I was squared away on pub grub. It had been most of my grub for the past few days, and the bars all seemed to have an elderly Innsmouth “no outsiders” kind of vibe.
Would’ve loved a carvery. That’s an event where they make a ton of meat and carve off chunks of it for you, all-you-can-eat style. Unfortunately, it was neither Sunday nor Wednesday, and I wouldn’t get to sample the local flavor. I defaulted to a kebab wrap.
I’d like to take a moment to praise the humble kebab. They’re ubiquitous and the closest you can get to real nourishment on the road, unless you’re one of those hardliners who makes your own pasta in the hostel. They’ve got all the food groups, weighted more heavily toward fat and protein. The carbs are incidental, even when they slip french fries in there (which is an affront). And your guaranteed 400% daily intake of Lebanese sodium will keep you from dehydrating on those long treks from centrum to some outlier train station.
There was nothing in Holyhead. It was like trying to tour some random frozen scrubgrass swamp in NEPA, but with a population of 11,000, I couldn’t hold it against them. Traditional Irish folk songs aren’t the ideal travel agents.
I searched up “Holyhead nightlife”, just in case.
It recommended the Edinburgh Castle.
I headed back to the truck stop.