There wasn’t much sleep to be had last night, as I found restlessness with jet-lag combined with a German bunkmate that snored loudly, as well as one from Spain, finding it was difficult falling asleep. This is perplexing as I usually can pass out to the sound of a train wreck (thanks to living near the tracks at the Hanta House warehouse in Seattle). I arose around 7:30 … quickly silencing my phone as I knew it would soon ring and not wanting to disturb the others in the shared room. It was an early day as I had to be at Bristol Temple Mead by 9 am for the rail to Penzance. A quick shower and in a sprint I was down to the hostel’s restaurant for a free, all you can eat breakfast spread of eggs, sausage, hashbrowns, yogurt, tea, and orange juice. This did me quite well for my day’s journey across England and into Cornwall. I began my hike with my heavy frame backpack up to the bus stop that was located down the canal from the hostel – and after asking a bus driver (apparently the wrong bus) if he was the right one, he haphardzardly replied this was not the right one as his bus was out of service. I walked back to stop with my heavy bags noticing that he was watching me. I suppose he felt sorry for me with my big heavy backpacks combined with the fact that I was an obvious backpacker/tourist – so he pulled up and said he’d take me to the station even though he’s not suppose to let any passengers on … he also replied that I was obviously a American not yet orientated to England. A blessing in disguise, he granted me door-to-door service and he didn’t even click my bus pass. Entering the massive complex that the inhabitants of Bristol call “Temple Mead” (named after a local Church), found my departing ramp, and settled into awaiting my train. I pitstopped into the ‘Pumpkin Cafe‘ for some chai n’ wifi. Much to my surprise, greatly so since Britain has large ties with India, I could not easily find Chai on my trip. No success with the Pumpkin Cafe. Little did I know that Chai is nearly impossible to find throughout the cafes in England – except for Starbucks – which is oddly abundant throughout the United States (probably due to Starbuck’s popularity with its Chai Latte’s and Chai Creme Frappacinnos). My alternative solution to my need of caffeine (since I don’t drink coffee) was to grab an energy drink. Wanting to try something new, I grabbed Britain’s local energy drink called Lucozade. Outside to the ramp to await my train. I find my orientation with public transportation in Europe much easier than that in America – a factor I have yet to figure out even where I live currently. The train was on time and just as soon as passengers got off we all quickly piled on, which took longer than usual as we apparently had a large load – putting us 20 minutes late into our journey. I had a reserved seat that already had a sleeping child in it. I hated to tell the parents I needed my seat and had to awake the child – but there was no where else to sit. The parents unhappily woke up the child so I could take my seat. The journey was about a 4 hour + train ride across the scenic countryside. I love trains. It is by far one of the best ways to travel across the country if you have time. Great Western had deluxe trains, with power outlets and tables for laptop users. That was very helpful for keeping me entertained as I blogged this article. Unfortunately I couldn’t detect a wifi signal even though Great Western advertises internet. I attempted taking pictures of the passing scenery – unfortunately a good percentage of the photos came out blurry.
Unloading into Penzance rail station was obvious that it was a Port city. The fresh salt ocean air briskly whipped across my face. A sexy surfer girl carrying her board off the train heading to the beach. Oh how I miss the ocean culture. I inquired from the surfer girl about where the bus station and to my dumfoundedness discovered it was just across the walkway in full sight had I bothered looking. I’d gather she probably thought I was just trying to hit on her. I found the 5/6 bus that would take me down Alverton which would unload me approximately a mile hike from the hostel ‘Castle Hornbeck‘. A quick journey, so fast, I almost missed my stop as I hastily pushed the ‘stop’ button to request drop-off. Right in front of the “Pirate’s Inn“, noted quickly as a place I planned to dine at during this trip. It was a good hike from the bus stop up to the Castle, huffing and puffing as I had over 18 kilo of weight in my frame backpack and about 20 kilos in my napsack. When I first planned this journey utilizing Google Earth, I originally intended on hiking through Penzance to the hostel. I’m very glad I didn’t stick to the original plan as the uphill hike would have been hell. Utilizing the bus was a definite blessing as this hostel was quite distanced from the station and the town. A very pleasant hike though when you are not overburdened with baggage. I arrived at the Castle Hornbeck to find a empty Georgian style manor and a sign that reception was closed until 4 pm. Another man from another part of Britain hiked up behind me and had the same disappointment. We however could access the self-catering kitchen without a room card as well as the lounge, but further disappointment found no storage lockers where we could drop off our bags. I wasn’t quite sure what to do as I needed to walk back down to Penzance in order to find a bank. I was low on British Pounds and needed desperately to convert my American Dollars to Pound. It was only 2 pm and reception would not open until 4 pm. As the clock struck 2:30, I spied a staff member and inquired about luggage storage since it was advertised on the site. He unlocked reception and allowed me to leave my bag in the foyer until 4 pm. Another trip blessing allowing me to head on into town without dragging my accessorized weight behind me. A nice hike down to the town centre of Penzance. I converted my $400 US Dollars getting back less than 300 Pounds, and pulled out an additional 200 pounds from the ATM. I still was shy funds needed for the Bed and Breakfast in Truro I would have to get by Sunday as the ATM daily limit with Wells Fargo would not let me withdraw more than 200 GBP a day. I was also very famished, so dropped into the Pirates Inn Pub for lunch but as most restaurants and pubs close early – they would not be serving food again until after 5 pm and only accepted cash. I pondered about walking down again for dinner as I really wanted to try them out since I’ve been fixated with pirate culture as of late. I grabbed a vodka n’ tonic from them instead to rest before taking my trekk up castle road. I wandered back into Penzance and treated myself to a scone with jelly and butter English style from the local bakery. A treat that Lady Vanessa of the Rhine introduced me to during our Trekk across the Yorkshire Dales. Every bite brought back memories.
After the refreshing snack, I headed back up the hill to the Castle Hornbeck with about an hour left to await check-in. I retired to the lounge, which was empty, and a little unsettling as I’ve heard rumors that this Castle was haunted. Of course my mind played tricks as I was hopeful something would happen. Nothing other than an over-active imagination. Until reception opened I caught up with blogging since there was a wifi signal. Around 3:45, others joined me in the room and a man from Australia was kind enough to watch my laptop while I hit registration and retrieval of my backpack. Very friendly staff, check-in was quick and easy. Afterwards I decided it was time to explore Penzance. Another couple mile hike down into town to the beach and promenade completely losing vision to the idea of the Pirate’s Inn for dinner. Of course the Inn was a bit disappointing in that it wasn’t pirate-like inside or appetizing for what I was searching for. The evening was blessed with a pitstop into a fish and chips house for a basket I could eat on the pier with the panorama of the beautiful coastline. The pier just triggered ideas for the future of “Pirate Relief as a PERFECT location for the entertainment and events we will be doing in the near future. I went down to the dockyard to spy for some pirate ships and found two: one not used for it appeared pretty beaten up and aged, and the other was used as a pirate store and was a bit cheezy (which was already closed for the day). I explored the city and made my way through the local Carnival that was going on near the bus station. At the bus station, I prepared for my journey to Truro on Sunday by retrieving my tickets. With everything set up and me being quite thirsty – I quickly craved some alcohol. As I was walking-about and past Club-Zero, a ruffian in the doorway enticed me in, and somehow convinced I should join him for a drink and buy him a beer. Oddly enough I did … as well as enjoying a beer which is a rarity for me since I hate the taste of beer. (that is now the second beer I’ve had – and enjoyed – since I’ve been in Europe) (I’m not a beer drinker). We quickly made friends as he chatted me up about how grand his town of McIntire was. I had some language comprehension problems as England English is definitely a different language from American English. He wanted me to stay and party, but I was a bit tired and ready to hit the hostel for the night. Turns out he was the local drug dealer as he attempted to inquire if I needed anything and when I told him I couldn’t do drugs since I work for the government, he moved on to asking if he could borrow 20 pence and said he’d call me later in the evening if something fun was going on. As I wandered through a local convenience store enroute to the Castle – I was impressed by the superior variety that England has with chocolate types and selections in their cases. There was a chocolate bar that grabbed my attention immediately … it was the Yorkie Bar … “Yorkie: Not for Girls”. Definitely an odd kind of chocolate bar label, so I had to try it. It was standard. I popped into the Pirate’s Inn for a vodka and tonic on the way back up Castle Road. Back to the Castle, I grabbed some blue vodka drink at the bar as well as a hot cup of chocolate while ‘google earthing’ places I wanted to go and see tomorrow. I really wanted to see St. Michael’s Mount – but apparently parks like that are closed on Saturday. According to the locals, this is pretty common place for the British to close national parks and places on saturdays because they figure tourists would be at festivals and not sightseeing on a saturday. Odd logic. Doesn’t work from where I’m from, as in America – Saturday is one of the most busy days for parks. We primarily sightsee on the weekends. I looked into swimming beaches as well even though the ocean’s temperature was frigidly cold. The receptionist at the front desk told me about a sacred well nearby and wishing tree next to a church that still had Pagan traditions being celebrated at it. I think she saw my faerie ring and figured I would be interested in these sort of things. She graciously lent me the hostel map to the well. Tomorrow’s agenda was set … a 2 hour hike to a sacred spot for some sacred blessings. I was definitely in my glory. Until I wore thin, the rest of the evening was spent hanging out in the lounge of the Castle pondering if I’ll see or hear a ghost since this castle is supposed to be haunted. Throughout the night, minus a middle of the night waking up and thinking I saw someone walking around (probably a bunkmate) – there was no sign of anything paranormal.
Continue reading 6/11/10: Chronicles: WPP: Day 7 – Penzance and the Haunted Castle