*Wails in Wales*
Unfortunately, I wrote a very nice, detailed post about my two days in Dublin, Ireland, but accidentally deleted it while trying to post it 😦 So stories of my Dublin adventure may have to wait and come after Paris. Sigh. But moving on:
Wales is a very unique place.
We traveled there via ferry, and when we got off we headed onto another charter bus, this time driven by another grey-haired man, although much younger, named John.We traveled through Holyhead, Wales to the town of Beaumaris, a town that is a port and is also home to an 800+ year old Welsh castle that has been preserved and is now an attraction.
The Beaumaris Castle was so great. It was so intricately built and so much of it still remained that it was easy to imagine Welsh medieval knights running around the grounds in their mail armor and helmets. The castle even had an ACTUAL moat. (!!!)
Jasmine and I explored the castle thoroughly, going into every alcove and up every staircase we saw. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, and the view from the top was more than gorgeous.
We converted some of our money into pounds, since we were officially in the UK! A very graceful and young Queen Lizzie adorned the 20 pound bills. We bought fish and chips and went to sit by the port, on the beach to eat.
After an ice cream break (we can’t resist Magnums) and a bathroom break (the bathroom costs 20 pence, but a sweet old lady who said she hates that it makes you pay snuck us and another woman through the door with her) we got back on our trusty old bus to head to the Snowdonia area of Wales.
The most BEAUTIFUL, picturesque mountains and valleys and hills surrounded us as we winded down the narrow, bending roads in our big old orange bus. We stopped for a few photo ops in Snowdonia and then traveled to the town where our hotel was.
As we arrived in the tiny town of Llangollen, our tour director, a British man named Jim who stays with us the entire time (LOVE THIS GUY) noticed the ruins of a Welsh castle on the top of a nearby mountain. He has been directing tours for EF for ten years, but the last time he went to the top was five years ago. More on this later.
Our hotel was very VERY old but oh so quaint!! No elevators, and the wifi only reached certain areas of the hotel. However, the scenery was worth it, as the hotel was perched next to a bridge that a rocky stream ran under, and the town itself was encircled by forest.
Then, our group’s adults and Jim announced that they were going to climb/hike the mountain at 8:30 PM, and were trying to get a group together to go. It was 7:45 PM and we had a little less than an hour to decide.
Now, as mentioned in my previous post, I had a bit of a cold. I was tired. Couldn’t stop sneezing. And I had been slacking on my exercise game since prom. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, or even if I COULD do it. Yet, Jasmine talked me into it. I mean, I talk about venturing into the adventurous all the time, but saying and doing are totally different things. It was time to take action, sick or not!
So Jas and I laced up our Nikes, and slipped on some jeans. We were ready to go. Surprisingly, it was HUMID AS HELL outside and very balmy. The mountain was steep, intermixed with rocky hills and grassy hills and dirt hills, some dips and some valleys, and some challenging areas. It took about 45 minutes to get to the top and it was not easy at all.
I had to stop a few times and then I had a slight asthma attack, but I managed to catch my breath, drink some water and calm my breathing with the help of Jasmine and Ms. Hartz, who I had already declared as my favorite. After I began to breathe regularly again, Ms. Hartz fingered the key that hung from my chest and said, “Hmm. Courage. Looks like it’s working.”
We made it to the top finally and it was worth all of it. All the pain traveling up my thighs to my glutes, the sneezes I let out along the way, and my little breathing mishap.
The ruins of the Welsh fort were massive and the views from the top were jaw dropping and nothing less than wondrous. We could see the entirety of the little town of Llangollen lit up, and hills as far as the eye could see (Yes, I did spin around in the middle of some hills and sing the Sound of Music). I honestly felt like I was on top of the world. Over 1,000 feet and equivalent to 70 stories. It was a life altering moment, looking down at a world I’ve never seen and realizing how small I am in comparison to the vastness of the world. A bit scary, but exhilarating all the same.
We came back down the mountain and walked back to the hotel, and once there my friends and I went to the bar to celebrate our successful climb. I bought a shot and as a group, the nine of us each took a shot of rum in honor of Europe, in honor of Wales, in honor of living in the moment! My shot was of Malibu Rum and it was… okay. If it wasn’t so coconut-y, I probably wouldn’t have been able to down it.
And now, as we leave our one-day adventure in Wales behind us as we travel to England to see Shakespeare’s birthplace, I am more than grateful for this trip and for everyone sharing these memories with me.
Until next time, I’ll be sharing London with you!!! 🙂