Europe, Travel, uk


August 2012
Wales was such a dark horse in the competition for my favorite places in the world, but it’s up there now. Our family (my mother’s niece, her husband and their twin children) lived in Wrexham, Wales the summer of 2012. They moved pretty close to us soon after we visited them, but they took us to Mount Snowdon. Yr Wyddfa in Welsh. That language is so difficult and I tip my hat to people who know it.

Besides Doctor Who being filmed in Cardiff, what else did I know about Wales? Nothing really. I had no idea what Welsh even looked like! When we started driving through the country and I saw the signs in Welsh, I was a bit flabbergasted. But, the place is gorgeous. Houses near babbling brooks, mountains obscured by dense morning fog and basically what you would think The Shire looks like. Outside of New Zealand, that is.
Casually walking their dogs along a busy mountain road. Not safe, brits.
From the old-fashioned steam train we took to the summit of Snowdon. It was slow but good for taking pictures (minus the reflection in the glass)
Almost there!
Aaaand wow. You can see all the land and sea!
That’s how close it is to the sea. Seagulls are around.
Yeah, so we climbed those mossy rocks until it was the last train down. Honestly, could have sat up there just staring for hours. It was mesmerizing and I don’t say that often.
The town nearby wasn’t too bad either! Look how cute!
My sister had heard of Crosby Beach and the Another Place art installation there. We checked it out and drove through Liverpool AKA birthplace of The Beatles. By the way, you guys should watch Nowhere Boy if you even remotely like Aaron Johnson & The Beatles. I liked it.
Antony Gormley is brilliant because sometimes installation art is just over people’s heads or unappreciated or trite. However, I think everyone had an opinion on his and liked it. Here is an explanation in the artists’ words.

“The seaside is a good place to do this. Here time is tested by tide, architecture by the elements and the prevalence of sky seems to question the earth’s substance. In this work human life is tested against planetary time. This sculpture exposes to light and time the nakedness of a particular and peculiar body. It is no hero, no ideal, just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet.”

Thus concluded our first trip to Wales. Little did we know that we would return. With a vengeance.
July 2014
You may not know this. Truly, I didn’t even really know it until it happened, but I love outdoorsy things. I think it started with my tendency to get really jealous of successful & amazing people. Bear with me for a bit. I was watching Anna Akana’s videos and I came across this one where she essentially endorsed becoming the person you’re jealous of. It blew my mind. Yeah, instead of admiring all these outdoorsy, healthy and life-loving people–I could BE them. So, I capitalized on the outdoorsy things I already liked–beautiful views, the beach, and starry night skies. Where can all of these be found? WALES
My family let me plan this trip, so I decided to work them so hard that they’d never forgive me. Sounds horrible, but it was great. We drove to Barmouth from our rented cottage in the national park area of Wales and rented bikes. Our plan was simple–bike as far as we can until we can’t bike anymore. And then bike back. We did about 14 miles round trip and it was gorgeous.
First, we biked across the (quite low in water) inlet. My mother almost immediately crashed and had a zillion splinters in her hand, so we had to stop and care for her. However, she is such a trooper and continued to bike.
Does this not remind you of the train in Spirited Away?? Come on! Of course, it’s sunnier and not a Japanese fantasy land, but still.
At Penmaenpool, please don’t ask me to pronounce anything that’s in Welsh by the way, we stopped into the pub and had some snacks. I’m not gonna lie, we were looking and feeling pretty rough. We stopped several times on the way, but we’re not some super athletic family that does crossfit together every other day. Or even every other week. Or ever. Anyway, I was proud of us. It was so worth it, definitely bike through that area if you’re in Wales.
Then, it was time for the piece de resistance– Mount Snowdon! The whole motivation for returning. We were going to climb it this time. The skies weren’t as clear as in 2012 so our spirits weren’t as high, but still. We were there for the climb.
We went off the beaten path a bit to reach this quarry lake (it was in my 2012 pictures as near the top of the summit) because we needed to see something nice. Near the top it was all fog & doom.
Hikers disappearing into the fog. Not a fun sight to see when you’ve been walking for hours.
This was as far as we got before calling it quits. Not only were we tired, but conditions were getting dangerous. My parents weren’t going to go on. Of course, I insisted I would go alone but that wasn’t safe.
It’s ok because this view definitely sufficed.
And here we are getting geared up to zipline over a quarry lake! Mind you, this is not a regular zipline. It’s over 60mph fast and a mile long. It was a thrill, I was scared at times, but I’m SO glad I did it (with my sister!).
There we are!! The clouds cleared JUST as we were launched. Of course, there was a shorter, slower zip right before that that kind of warmed us up. It didn’t prepare me for the amount of wobbling I did over the lake. I kept moving from side to side and it slightly terrified me, but I felt like a bird.
I’m pointing to the zipliner on the Little Zip! I was that person! YAY
So, Wales was quite the adventure. We biked, hiked and flew. I recommend it for people looking to be more outdoorsy, because it is definitely not out of your comfort zone. However, for the mountain men & women out there, you’ll find some more dangerous activities for sure. The whole area is full of things to do and adventures to partake in as long as you research a bit. We stayed in a cottage within the national park that didn’t have wifi so we were quite at peace and cozy. Also, all we wanted to do when we returned home was sleep.
Young Lion

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