We had intended to travel to St. Davids on our own, using the bus system through Pembrokeshire. But Fishguard is a tender port and the seas were fairly big so it took a long time to disembark. They had to continually reposition the ship to put the tender boarding platform in the lee of the swell, and each passenger has to be helped onto the bobbing tender, some almost lifted. So instead of getting ashore at 8 it was closer to 11. Further last tender was at 2:30. Given the bus schedule, we could not have made it to St. David’s and back without missing the ship so we took the ship’s tour. Only 29 people on a bus that held 60 and delightful tour guide named Helen. From her posh English accent, I could tell she wasn’t native Welsh, but she was someone who had lived in Wales awhile. She had a sharp wit, self-effacing humor, and was a master storyteller. So many guides can rattle off the facts or tell a programed joke. Helen was better than that. We learned about her move to Wales (her husband wanted to live in the country), her divorce (“It turns out it wasn’t the city John didn’t like, it was me”) and raising two kids who went to a Welsh emersion school. She was good at banter. When I asked her a question she answered with “You’re going to check out my answer on line after aren’t you? You’re the type.” She gzve me the answer and it did check out. She had opinions (“The manager of Liverpool Football should take over managing Brexit. He’d do better than this lot.”) I would hire Helen to be on the air in a minute. Fishguard is mostly known as the place where you get the ferry to Ireland. Most people breeze through it on their way to or from. Prinsendam had to lighter into the port but it was built by Brunel as the termination point of the Great Western Railway. He tried to lure large Atlantic Liners to Fishguard. It was closer to New York than Liverpool and closer to London as well. The Lusitania and Mauritania made some stops and a grand style hotel, built to accommodate passengers, sits on the hill above the port. Unfortunately for Fishguard, Southampton took the bulk of the passenger service when ships schedules were adjusted to pick up passengers in France and not just England and Ireland. So Fishguard remains a just a ferry port.
The Fishguard tourist office really wanted us to feel welcome. Costumed characters greeted us and each got a tote bag with maps a singer was set up on a small stage tent singing in English and Welch.) But the kicker was when we returned. A children’s choir, a very Welch thing, sang us onto the tender (well, we stuck around and listened and took the last tender) and we got postcards and “Welch Cakes” with wishes that we had a good journey and would return to spend tome time in Fishguard. Which is becoming a center for shovel and pail beaches and surfing.