In my last post, I concluded by saying that if I finished my reading, I’d be going to Wales on a grad college trip. Well, I finished my reading (mostly… of the things that mattered anyway… shh!) so I got to go on the trip! We went to Northern Wales, specifically Betws-y-Coed (a cute little town situated near the mountains, where you can find lots of hiking trails and gorgeous views), Penryhn Castle (built in the 19th century and overlooking the Menai Straits), and finally, Conwy Castle (which was constructed in the 1200’s and overlooks the River Conwy, which is on the coastal ridge).
The first place we stopped was Betws-y-Coed, which is in a place called Snowdonia National Park. My friend and I found a cute hotel and ordered a “full Welsh breakfast” – eggs, sausage, rashers (kind of like really thick bacon), roasted tomato, baked beans, and a hash brown – to split. After that, we wandered around the town for a bit. One of the places that the leader of the trip recommended visiting was on old miner’s bridge, which “rocks a bit”. That may have been an understatement. You take five steps onto this bridge, and it starts swinging back and forth. You have to hold onto a wire “railing” in order to steady yourself. Oh, and don’t have more than two or three people cross at a time – once you get more than three people, the bridge goes crazy! But the mountains were beautiful, and the old buildings were quite charming. The nice thing is that small as the town is, it’s part of the National Rail system, which means that it would be easy to come back to if I wanted to do so.
Next, we went to Penrhyn Castle. It’s got an absolutely stunning view of the Menai Straits and the mountains nearby, and it houses an industrial railway museum, a model railway museum, an art collection (with works from Rambrandt, Canaletto, and Carl Haag), and a walk-around wall where you can take awesome panorama shots of Snowdonia.
Finally, we ended in Conwy, which is a town as cute as can be! The coach (bus) had a hard time getting through the narrow city walls, but our bus driver was amazing! I guess you get used to these things, living in the UK, where some of the roads were built for horses (and MAYBE carriages, depending on where you are). There are so many roads that you would think are one-way because they’re so narrow… but they aren’t. Anyway, Conwy Castle is absolutely gorgeous, and since we were there on St. David’s Day (a Welsh holiday), we got into the castle for free! The views over the river were fantastic, and I even climbed up to the tallest Prisoner Tower, through a narrow, circular staircase, with only a rope to hold onto (HOW DID THE ARCHERS DO IT BACK IN THE DAY?!) which led to even more amazing sights. After exploring the castle, I had tea (dinner) in a cute tea room, where the waitresses wore traditional maid dresses. One of the waitresses even let us out on the fire escape so that we could have a beautiful view of the marina!
Overall, it was an absolutely amazing day, and I would love to come back sometime if I can! The next trip will be to Hadrian’s Wall and Carlisle, but once again, it depends on how much reading I can get done. I’ve just had to finalize my final course essay topics, and I also need to start reading for my MA dissertation. But I can’t wait to explore more of the UK!