Wales: Of Sheep and Hail

Hello, internet people! I come to you from somewhere under the mounting pile of homework and projects and exams and other such things that are threatening to crush me. I also come to you full of chocolate and caffeine, as these are the only things sustaining my life at the moment. Thus it is no surprise that it’s Wednesday and I’m just now typing up a post about the weekend. But, better late than never as they say…

This past weekend I spent a nice, relaxing weekend in Wales. The most defining things about Wales, in so far as we discovered, is that it has a gorgeous landscape, insanely unpredictable weather, and loads of sheep. Naturally this is a cursory summation based on spending less than three days in a small portion of the country, but it is nevertheless what I have learned.

We stayed in a sleepy little town by the name of Llandudno (another thing about Wales–Welsh is a terribly confusing language that likes to stick lots of vowels together and lots of consonants together. I do not know why.). Our hotel was a little on the rundown side, with fabulously odd carpet, creaky stairs, and outdated decor, but we had a fabulous view of the sea out our dirty window, so I was content. Also, I could shower without my elbows smashing against the wall or holding down a button the entire time, which were nice improvements over the last few weekends.

This is Caernafon castle, to be discussed below.

Our first night we spent having a bit of a wander. We quickly learned that the town was full of tiny and admittedly slightly “dodgy” shops, but we had a good laugh and enjoyed ourselves well enough in the oddity. We got stared down, for instance, by a Chinese shop owner as we perused her wares with little or no intent to buy. Another bizarre thing occurred in one of the random shops. The owner, who sadly was on the phone, was wearing none other than a Cincinnati Bengals jacket. Seriously. It had the NFL emblem on the sleeve and everything. I was very curious about this, but not curious enough to interrupt his phone conversation. We also learned that Wales has a LOT of discount bookshops. A LOT. We stepped into one and Emily and I both added two books to our Jane Austen collections for only 3 pounds. What can I say? I simply cannot resist cheap books!

Finally, we made our way into a little (possibly unnamed) pub for dinner and were incredibly pleased to learn the prices were amazing! I also had the pleasure of discovering yet another drink that I like (WKD Blue, which reminds me of a raspberry flavor-ice). From there, we retired to Emily and I’s room to watch a bit of TV, including Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and Dodgeball. After that, it was an early night to rest up for our day of adventure in the morning.

Breakfast at our dodgy little hotel was glorious. They not only had a HOT BREAKFAST included, they had Cocoa Rice Krispies. I could not have been more pleased. After stuffing myself with toast, Cocoa Krispies, a fried egg, and hashbrowns, I headed off to the bus for a trip to Caernafon castle! Let me tell you something about Caernafon castle–it’s a PROPER castle. Not a little round thing on a hill or anything, but a giant structure that towers above the town and has little arrow slits and EVERYTHING. I felt like it was The Two Towers or something as we raced up the towers (LOADS of stairs. Tiny stairs) and around the ramparts. I touched the old castle, took entirely too many pictures of the old castle, and was just generally behaving as though I were about six years old or so. Happily, my friends shared my enthusiasm somewhat, and we all took pictures pretending to shoot arrows out of one of the slits.

From there, we headed off to a lovely little town near Mount Snowden called, I believe, Llanberis. Another sleepy town much like Llandudno (possibly that’s what the “ll” codes for?). We saw some sheep, dashed to Pete’s Eats the “world’s best cafe,” as they say. I have to say, while my tuna and cheese toastie was tolerable, I would hardly say it was the world’s best. Still, it wasn’t that expensive, and it was fooood. From there we intended to walk around the lake, but couldn’t find the trail and as we set out it began to HAIL, of all things. It had been warm and sunny previously, but suddenly we were being pelted by this little hard bits of white that didn’t seem possible. We ran inside and after a few moments the hail had gone, but we’d lost our nerve and spent the rest of the time exploring little shops and things. Then it was back to Llandudno for another dinner in the apparently nameless pub and another comfortable night in, this time curled up with some Jane Austen in our snug little beds.

Morning brought more Cocoa Krispies and a lovely walk along the beach. Okay, maybe it was a chilly and windy walk along the beach, but it was a beach nonetheless. After that, we loaded the coach for our last stop before we headed back to Harlaxton–Swallow Falls! After depositing a pound in the somewhat terrifying gate machine, we headed down some more stairs and saw one of the most gorgeous waterfalls I think I’ve ever seen. Many, many pictures ensued. After that, it was down the hill a ways to Betwys y Coed, where we had lunch in a slightly overpriced little “Save the Apes” sort of Cafe that had a ton of homemade, unique food creations. We then made a wish on the Wishing Ape outside (no, I’m not joking) and entertained ourselves with shops until it was time to load the coach one last time and head for home.

The drive home and in fact the drives in between places were some of the best parts of the trip. The scenery in Wales is truly, truly beautiful. I wish the weather had been warmer, or even just more stable, because some small brave part of me wanted to do a LOT of hiking. So if you ever go to Wales, I sincerely recommend you bring your beef jerky and your hiking gear because nature calls in Wales.

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