From Gaerwen to Blackpool: The Never-Ending Road Trip — Part 1

I was going to post a rant about airfare prices and the bullshit song and dance you have to go through to not be ripped off royally by the airline industry, but it wasn’t helping my eye twitch. Thus, I decided to write about the time a road trip from Gaerwen, Wales to Blackpool, England turned into one of the most memorable moments of my 2010 British Isles trip.
Because I’m long-winded, this’ll be a two-parter, folks!
My travel friend and I had seen a commercial for Britain’s “Jersey Shore” while in Ireland. We just looked at each other and it was decided*. After picking up our third and final rental car in Gaerwen, Wales, we’d stay a night in Blackpool on the way to Scotland.

(In hindsight, choosing where to go in a country with so many beautiful places to see based on its similarity to the reality TV show, Jersey Shore is kinda dumb.)
I’m fairly certain that some of the troubles we encountered can be blamed on the wild ferry ride from Dublin to Wales (well, and on my friend’s almost non-existent map reading skills). It was pouring rain and the waters were choppy. Actually, that’s an understatement. What’s 100 times worse than choppy?
Our Vegas showboat ferry swayed and groaned and rocked for the entire 3 hours and some odd minutes of the journey.

Go ahead and tell me this doesn’t look exactly like a showroom at the Flamingo.
I wasn’t too worse for wear, miraculously, but my travel friend never even attempted to lift his head off of my travel pillow that I so kindly lent him and watched over worriedly. I was pretty concerned he’d get pre-barf drool on the pillow I’d still need to use for the remainder of the trip.
To get my mind off of the potential demise of my pillow, I decided to head to the bathroom before it was filled with sea sick passengers. My attempt at *walking* to the toilets was pretty comical, because I’m fairly certain my body was completely sideways as I groped at chairs, walls, (and maybe one nice-looking lady), as I climbed to the bathrooms.
When we finally docked and set foot on land, it felt like we were still swaying for hours. Then we had to get in a car.
It was not my favorite.
(In fact, I’ve had to take a break from writing this as I’m literally feeling the nausea- kind of like reminiscent sympathy pains.)
We were picked up in Holyhead by Paul, the friendly, but erratic Enterprise driver who liked to test the limits of his passenger’s underwear. He had driven my boyfriend and I a week prior to the ferry when we were on our way to Ireland to meet our travel friend.
(In case you’re confused, this travel friend is the same one mentioned in this post. My boyfriend, the friend, and I all traveled together in Ireland. When my boyfriend had to go home, our friend continued to travel with me so I could stay longer and have a companion.)
He looked at me and then my friend, with a “I know what’s going on here” look on his face and said, “Got yourself an upgrade, eh?”
When he had us all ready to zip off in our feisty-looking cherry red Vauxhall, he asked, “Know how to drive one of these?”

Once I got the hang of it, I LOVED driving this thing!
I was confused as he very clearly remembered seeing me a week before when we dropped a car off that we had been driving for nearly a week.
“Well, yeah. I’m pretty much an expert now!” I responded, thinking he meant driving a car with the steering wheel on the other side of the car.
“Well, that’s good, because this is our last car.”
Still confused, but not too fazed, we got into the car, and I immediately realized what he had meant.
It was a fucking stick shift.
Now, I was taught to drive with a stick shift. I can drive one of those sonsabitches as good as any trucker, but to shift with my left hand?
I had specifically requested automatic cars for the entirety of the trip for the very credible reason that operating a steering wheel on the opposite side of the car while driving on the opposite side of the road was going to be no small feat in itself.
Almost hyperventilating, I checked to see if the clutch was also on the “wrong” side.
“Well, at least there’s that! The clutch appears to be the only thing I recognize in this car!”
My friend just responded with a quick dry heave.
I remember thinking, “We are going to die on the way to Blackpool. And, for what? To see the British Pauly D?”
The rain started pelting the roof and the Enterprise office turned off its lights.
It was time to get a move on.
Despite the nearly blinding rain, the not-so-subtle relentless swaying feeling from the boat, and the fear my friend would yak all over us, the actual driving wasn’t so bad.
What was bad was the fact that my friend was too sea sick and now car sick to even read the map properly.
(We could have switched drivers, but he felt he’d fare better as the passenger.)
A drive from Gaerwen to Blackpool is a 2.5 hour drive, give or take traffic and weather conditions.
It took us nearly five hours and I can’t even blame the weather, as the rain had let up a bit not long after leaving Gaerwen.
Every time he had to look at the map, WHICH WAS A LOT BECAUSE WE HAD NO IDEA WHERE WE WERE, he’d act all dramatic and pukey.
We missed exits off the motorway, got back on the motorway going in the opposite direction and didn’t realize for miles, and had to stop for rest breaks more often than is needed for an old lady with a nervous bladder.
He’d belch up a barely coherent set of directions and I’d yell, “DON’T TALK TO ME, I’M TRYING TO SHIFT/CHANGE LANES/BLINK!”
Somehow, and I don’t even know how, we made it into Blackpool in the pitch black dark of night.
If you live in the U.K. or you’ve been, you’ll know that it doesn’t get dark until like 10:30**at night in the dead of summer.
That’s how I knew we had been driving forever. It’s not like our car didn’t have a clock or my ass wasn’t entirely numb, but the fact that we were driving in darkness for the first time during our whole trip stood out to me.
We had made it into Blackpool, but we had yet to locate our B&B. Stay tuned to find out how we finally made it to our über strange B&B. It may or may not have involved some friendly policemen and a way-too-perky-is-she-going-to-kill-us-in-our-sleep B&B owner.
*I was in no way a fan of Jersey Shore (I may have watched just a couple episodes to see what it was all about. My friend never watched one single episode, nor did he ever even contemplate watching them, either. I’m sure he’d appreciate my clearing that up.
**Maybe it’s not that late, but it sure felt like it.

56 thoughts on “From Gaerwen to Blackpool: The Never-Ending Road Trip — Part 1”

  1. You would be the bomb diggity of road trip companions! And we could talk about all the Jersey Shore episodes we didn’t watch!
    That stick shift on the left hand side left me with some motion sickness…not gonna lie. Yikes!
    Enjoy Tuesday!

  2. Driving in England is quite an experience, isn’t it? When we were booking our trip, I thought I would have to do all the driving because my fiance doesn’t know how to drive a manual. Luckily we were able to secure an automatic since we ended up driving almost 600 miles throughout the entire trip!

  3. I don’t think I could have done it…driving on the wrong side of the road, and the wrong side of the car is bad enough…but to get a manual transmission on the wrong side as well???
    I’d say you’re lucky you’re still alive to tell the tale 😀

  4. Hahaha I’d be your friend, sea sick, car sick and even if I knew the directions I wouldn’t be able tell you because I’d be puke controlling!!
    Well Done with the driving though!!! I’ve been to Blackpool once when I was like 10, I can only imagine what the B&B was like …..eeeek!

  5. As always, this post is hilarious!
    I totally agree about the ferries between Ireland and the UK. I have spent a lot of time of them growing up, and they always have that strange 1990s casino-esque décor.
    I have a feeling your friend would have been better driving. Don’t you feel less travel sick when you are in control of the vehicle and looking at the horizon!? Anyway, it sounds like an epic journey!!

  6. When you get a car from Enterprise, it’s like how Forrest Gump explains life being like a box of chocolates. I rarely get the car spec I want when I use them for work trips.

  7. This was brilliant and reminded me of my own ferry voyage from Wales to Ireland in the middle of the night. In a storm. And I knocked back Guinness and laughed at all the people who were seasick because I’m a terrible person.
    Thank you, though, for reminding me of Jasper Carrott’s song “A Day Trip To Blackpool” which includes, among other gems, a bit about how he and a friend jumped in the car but were stopped by a policeman.
    We must have been out of our brains,
    ‘Cause we came down by train…

    Yeah, I can’t wait to see how things went for you in Blackpool.

          1. Give me a shout nearer the time. Skye is beautiful with amazing scenery on the way. You would have fun in Glasgow if I have a few hours to spare. Jx

  8. I’d loved to be your travel companion but I’d be useless with a map and I’d insist on sat nav! Also, I have that make of car and LOVE it 😀 Glad you got to Blackpool safe anyway!

    1. Oh, I can only imagine how that ferry ride would be!!! The ferry between Holyhead and Dublin is much further south from your ferry trip, but still quite “north” if you know what I mean.

  9. Oh my God that ferry trip from Dublin to Holyhead is the actual fucking worse. It’s notoriously choppy. I remember having to concentrate really hard on the whole ferry trip so as not to be sick. Next time I’m going to Dublin, I’m bloody flying for that reason alone. Though the drive along North Wales is quite pretty. Anyway, I can’t wait to hear the second half of this tale. I already have visions of your Blackpool B&B 😆

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