Monday, February 16, 2009

Wale Watching

No, I didn't spell Wale wrong... ok, I did leave off the "s" at the end but we are talking the country, not the large ocean mammal. This week we traveled to Crymu (that is Wales in Welsh... I learned just a couple very important words :) and it was beautiful!
Our first stop after a pretty long drive (don't worry, Janna and I did some bus fun to help keep everyone entertained) was the Museum of Welsh Life. This was an open air museum that featured different eras of life in Welsh history. In this picture, Maddie and I are in the door of a hut that we found in the "Celtic Village" portion of the museum. It was fun to see how life was in Wales so many years ago. This was really neat to me because, of course, I know American history and how people in America lived when the country was just getting started but I will admit my Welsh history is a little rusty... or was never actually in existence so it was fun to learn about!
After wandering around the part of the museum that looked mostly like the picture you see above- it was wooded and there were different models of houses and farms and some animals, we realized that on the other side of the museum there was a castle complete with beautiful gardens. With about 10 minutes left before our coach was going to be pulling out, we booked it to the castle and it was so worth it! There have been a couple of places that we have gone where I have just had to stop and let everything sink in because I go into sensory overload, these gardens were that kind of a place. See for yourself.Melissa and I were just adding to the decor.I tried my best to capture the over-all feel of the place in a picture...

After the Museum of Welsh Life we got back on the coach and headed to the Castle Coch (pronounced coke). This castle has been extremely well preserved and was very open in terms of what parts of the castle we could explore. The interiors have obviously been redone rather recently but I think they successfully kept the feel of the old castle even with the renovations. The grounds around the castle were wooded and reminded me very much of good ol' Pennsylvania and made me want home just a little bit.

So after the castle, we made our way to the place where we were going to stay for the night- the Cardiff Youth Hostile. Talk about an experience! The hostile was not too yucky but it was yucky enough for my first experience. The beds were kind of little. I could lay down flat but I can't speak for everyone there. The food was ok... the salad dressing was mayonnaise, I will let you pass judgement there. I have never woken up more times in one night then I did while sleeping here. I don't know what it was. I could have been that my body felt like I was abusing it by sleeping on the rock that I will sleeping on but, I am not sure. The morning was pretty alright- we ate some breakfast and got back on the bus for what turned out to be pretty much the longest ride of life. We drove from Cardiff to an island off the northwest coast called Anglesey. The scenery throughout the whole drive was pretty incredible. The rolling green hills were dotted with sheep everywhere you looked and the mountains were covered in snow. Eventually we reached the coast and drove along that for a long time and that also afforded some incredible views if you can imagine!

Upon reaching our destination we got to explore Beaumaris Castle which was pretty cool. This is the first castle that I have seen here with a real moat so that was pretty exciting! I actually did not see very much of the castle because not too long into our exploration we found what used to be the chapel and our director, who works in the college of music, asked us if we would sing a hymn there to test the acoustics. Long story short- they passed the test. Everything sounded so good when sung in the chapel so we stayed there and sang for a long time. The spirit in this old castle was amazing- it felt so good. There was a cute lady who came in and told us that our singing made the castle seem alive, I guess you could hear us from just about every part of the castle. I am sure that I will never forget this experience, it was incredible!

This was post- singing, in the chapel of Beaumaris Castle

The night we spent in Anglesey was nothing short of amazing. We stayed in the Buckeley Hotel which is right on the water. The views out our windows were breathe-taking! I went for a run that made me feel like I was in one of those Pontiac commercials that happened in the hills of some European country and had the little boy that said "zoom zoom"- it was really amazing! We also go to eat in the restaurant, sleep in comfortable beds and I even got to take a bubble bath- it doesn't get much better than that!

Friday was spent mostly getting back to London but we did make three stops. We stopped in Chester which is a small town in Wales that still has a fully intact city wall. I loved Chester! It was the cutest little town and the people there were so kind and friendly. That was a nice change from London, not that Londoners are mean, I think they are all just so busy that they forget to be friendly. I made an incredible purchase in Chester that will shortly have its very own post- stay tuned :) Our next stop was Shrewsbury where we saw the Shrewsbury Abbey which is responsible for the British House of Commons in Parliament because it was the site of one of the first meetings of Parliament. Our last stop was in Coventry. Here we saw the Coventry Cathedral which was mostly destroyed during the bombing in World War II so they built a new cathedral right by the ruins of the old cathedral but left the ruins standing as a reminder of what happened.
Maddie and me with our purchases on the streets of Chester.

Shrewsbury Abbey.This was on the floor of the Chapel of Unity in Coventry Cathedral... I like Africa...

Getting home was pretty long and kind of stretched some of the girls to the limit but, we made it! I was surprised at how good it felt to come "home" to the centre. This will never replace home with my family but after 3 days gone it was a pretty good substitution.

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