Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Whales n' Wales

Like whales, we traveled through the wet streets of Llandudno at our own sweet and sluggish pace, enjoying the tiny Welsh city on our own watch. Every other weekend trip we've zipped through the cities, knocking out every museum and tour in only 2 days, but not this weekend. This time we slowed our step, gliding along like the giants of the sea, free and wild.

Sadly, we didn't actually see any whales during our stay in Wales, but I sure felt like one. Having only slept 3 hours the night before and waking up at the crack of dawn to catch our 6:55 a.m. train, I was a bit more than sluggish. My eyes were heavy as if they were 2 sizes too big and my legs were jello, unable to control my stepsI felt a bit like an awkward giant. But at least our schedule in Wales was optional. The trip was more of a retreat, a peaceful final hurrah to finish our busy semester; so many of us spent hours lazing around in our hostel lounge sprawled out on the red-leather couches, laughing with each other as the rain spat outside. There was nothing we needed more than a relaxing weekend.

We did push on, however, and saw the city while we had the chance. Because Wales is a part of the United Kingdom, the cross over the boarder was not a big event; in fact, the only way we knew we were in Wales was by the names of the cities our train rode through.


Good luck pronouncing those. Llandudno, our final destination, is actually pronounced, "clan-dood-no." 

Llandudno is a beautiful city located on a peninsula at the topmost part of Wales and tucked away in the Llandudno and Ormes Bay of the Irish Sea. The streets are lined with pastel and cream-colored buildings, giving the city a light, seaside feel, and all around town were wooden statues of Alice in Wonderland characters, as the "real" Alice once holidayed in this little Welsh city. Big colorful light bulbs strung across the main streets and old fashioned hotels sat on every corner. Bordering one side of the town was the Great Orme, a limestone and copper ore cliff, where a street of quaint, cream houses crawled up the side like a snake winding in the crevices. Stretching all along the coast, the buildings curled with the geography of the beach, lining the perimeter with pretty white buildings and fancy iron railings. 

Though a beautiful city, the physical geography of the area was the winner I fell in love with. The first day we hiked up the Great Orme and looked out over the rolling hills stretching for milesin the distance we could see England's Lake Districtand far out in the sea there was a field of windmills blowing in the wind. The wind at the top was wicked, but when the sun shone, it wasn't too cold. Sadly, the sun wasn't out for too long and every other hour the clouds would spit rain at us. Still, I was happiest just sitting on a rock, looking out at the indescribably stunning views. No camera can capture the full affect. 

The last day in Wales, we hopped on a quick train to the nearby city of Comry where a giant castle towered over the city. The city reminded me a bit of York, as it was walled-in with narrow streets and stone bars (gates), but again, the views outside of the city made my heart glow. In Comry we took a hike way up to the top of a cliff, and on our walk towards the trail, we wandered through a small neighborhood with steep streets, blooming trees, and low-hanging branches. For a while I felt like I was in Michigan. It felt homey and comfortable and if it was up to me, I would have moved right in with that man gardening behind his white picket fence. The hike was long and intense, but mostly because of the killer winds. With gusts of 30 mph, we struggled sometimes to stand, but the views were well worth the effort. From the top we could see Llandudno in the distance, the Great Orme, the field of windmills, the Lake District, and miles after miles of pastured land, rolling far off into the hazy horizon. 

By the end of the trip, I was well relaxed and caught up on sleep; my legs were only jello because of the extensive hiking rather than from the sleep-deprived exhaustion. It was our final hurrah, and a sweet goodbye for many. I'm going to miss our group of 25at first we were overwhelmingly large, but now I wouldn't have it any other waybut most of all, I'm going to miss the natural beautiful of this great kingdom.  

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