Monday, June 15, 2015

Day 7: Castles, Cable Cars, and Seaside Shenanigans

Somehow, despite still being incredibly tired and sleeping on a squeaky blow-up mattress, I managed to wake up before my alarm at 6:45 to go for a run before anyone else was up. Running is a rather convenient way of exploring, and I ended up running 3 miles on a winding road out here by the RYG Centre. I started out wearing my iPod, but as soon as I heard the birds and bubbling creek during a break in the music, I decided it was practically a crime not to take advantage of listening to the nature sounds of Wales around me. For the rest of my run, up and down the hills and around quaint stone houses, I listened to the numerous sounds of Welsh birds, the bleating sheep that sounded suspiciously like someone “spewing” as they say here, and the sound of the creek and the slight rain that was coming down. I also flashed a few peace signs to some unimpressed sheep who watched me with their eyes as I passed. Running in Wales is like running in London in that it’s a wonderful sensory overload—simply replace the view of cars, people, and buildings with trees and sheep, and the fleeting smell of crepes and car fuel with the lingering scent of pine and rain. In other words, definitely worth sacrificing 30 minutes of valuable sleep.

Everyone else rose relatively early for a quick breakfast, which included croissants that could kick the Pillsbury dough boy’s butt, so we could get on the road. We also packed our lunches for Caernarfon Castle and loaded our belongings onto the coach. After a winding drive on which thankfully no one spewed, we had the chance to explore the medieval Caernarfon Castle by the Menai Straight. There were many towers, rooms, and halls to explore, making it the perfect setting for a game of hide-and-seek—had we been 5 years old and therefore more energized!

We also explored the small shops and markets in the small town built around the castle. In addition to a gift shop with sheep postcards (in case we didn’t get enough pictures on our own), we quickly found a homemade ice cream shop called Palas with unfamiliar flavors like Elderberry and JaffaCake. Unfortunately, being by the sea posed new problems with seagulls. Not only is Wales infested with millions of sheep, but it is also home to hordes of evil and hangry seagulls obsessed with pooping and stealing our sandwiches. (Ask the Kelsey/i’s…)

Next, we departed for the Grand Llandudno Hotel. We will be staying here for the next few nights. After dropping off our bags, we walked to the Great Orme, a prominent limestone headland (AKA a big rock) on the coast of North Wales. We took the cable cars to the top and some of us even got to ride in the car where the torch was carried to the London Olympics in 2012. While at the top, we took several pictures before bravely traversing back down, taking our sweet time to ogle the breathtaking views of the Irish Sea. Eric restored our dwindling energy with his secret stash of blue raspberry bon bons. Upon reaching the bottom of our journey, we stopped on the beach to admire the wind turbine farm built into the ocean. This is a huge sustainability effort in Wales, as it produces enough energy to power 1/3 of the homes in Wales. Let’s get going, America—we’ve got a lot of ocean available to fill with windmills! 

We had dinner at Wetherspoons, a restaurant located in what used to be an old theater. The food was great, although the service took a little longer than expected at times—and one group of us even got a free dessert for having to wait. Good thing we are skilled at keeping conversation rolling for 2 hours! We then headed back to the hotel to relax and get ready for bed, as we have a big day tomorrow—Mount Snowden, here we come!

Kelsey Ewald
Senior, Health Promotion 

Tara Jackson
Senior, English Teaching