jbright's Travel Journals

jbright

 
If you could travel to any place in any period in history, where would you go?

Ancient Greece. The time of mythology and the beginning of democracy.

  • From United States
  • Currently in Germany

British Isles 2010

All the things I've seen, places I've been whilst studying throughout the UK and Ireland in summer '10.

Day 14: Castle Turrets (Conwy)

Wales Wales  |  May 27, 2010
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Highlights

  • I've always wanted to visit Wales as I've heard it's beautiful, which it was, but also, I find their language so interesting! As we were walking around, we kept seeing signs in English and in Welsh and they just made absolutely no sense to me. I love learning different languages and cultures, but I feel like learning to speak Welsh would be too complicated... maybe I'll study Gaelic instead.

 It was odd watching modern day people in their cars driving by the magnificent Conwy Castle. That people are living and working near (or in) that castle still astounds me. 

In yesterday's class we were looking up King Arthur tales. The one we read was by Sir Thomas Malory and it was actually really good. This version was a little older than any I've read, but I liked that even though the language wasn't modern, it was still simple enough to understand. Also, as I know the story quite well, the part that I did read was a great refresher. Other than that, I didn't really do much. We did go down to Premier and drop off our jumpers so we could get them personalised.

Today, however, we went to Conwy, Wales. Simply put: it was amazing! I've never been able to stay awake during travels, but when we were driving into Wales, I desperately wish I would have. Driving through Wales was gorgeous. There were sloping hills and valleys, castles, and lots of sheep. I realized that we had finally arrived at Conwy when our coach driver had to fit through part of the castle wall, which was really the tiniest arch I've ever seen a vehicle fit through.

After we got out of the bus, we started making our way up to the largest part of the castle. Like most tourist attractions, there were signs around the castle detailing what it used to look like and what different parts were used for. We finally got to walk around the castle and boy, was it massive! Living in and touring around Germany for the last five years, I've seen many castles--even my prom was in a castle. But Conwy Castle has got to be the largest, most impressive castle ever. We were able to walk around for a good thirty minutes, maybe even an hour before leaving the main part of the castle. The turrets especially were fun to climb into. And the views from them were incredible.

Once we had left, we went across the street to the Knight Shop. Inside, were lots of medieval sourvenirs and coats of arms. They even had swords and daggers including replications of King Arthur's Excalibur and a sword of Robin Hood's. We--Mimi, Ashley, Jill and I--spent quite a bit of time there looking up our families' coats of arms. Not all of the last names were found in the London-based database, but it was still really interesting to read about the ones they did have information on. I was only able to find 'Bright,' but all of the info it had about that last name was awesome to read about. (I didn't look up 'Smith' because, let's be honest, it's one of the most common last names and everywhere has the coat of arms for Smith.) Apparently, my ancestors were of Anglo-Saxon origin (like Robin Hood!) and many immigrated to Canada and the United States in the 15th and 16th century. One Bright was actually a convict that went to Australia!

Next, we just explored the little town. There were numerous gift shops, clothing stores, and cafes that we went looking in. A lot of the pastry shops were selling Steak & Kidney Pie--though I didn't try it. I wanted to, especially because Ron and Harry rave about it throughout most of the HP series, but instead got a few desserts. Since we've been here, Mimi and I have been saying we need to try a flapjack. In the States, a flapjack is sometimes another name for a pancake. Here, however, it's only what I can describe as a granola bar. The one I had was actually quite good and I'm glad I chose it. We also bought some traditional Welsh cakes, which look like smaller, less sweet versions of American pancakes, though we have yet to try them.

After a while, we headed down to the smallest house in all of Britain. The house really was the smallest house I've seen. Just trying to fit the four of us in there was kind of a joke. The stove especially reminded me of when I was younger and we used to play house in a little plastic home with a miniature, fake oven. And walking in, I actually had to duck my head through the doorway! It was really weird though as I was able to touch the ceiling, and, being a short person, I had never been able to do that before. And apparently, one of the former inhabitants was actually 6'3"!

From there, we went to another opening in the castle wall and just walked around the rest of the town on this little walkway. At some points, we were climbing ridiculously high and the slope was insane, but the views from the highest point were breathtaking. It was really such a magical day to be taking pictures; the sky was gorgeous. What I couldn't get through my head though is how people lived there. It was odd watching modern day people in their cars driving by the magnificent Conwy Castle. That people are living and working near (or in) that castle still astounds me. Once we had finished walking along the rest of the town, it was time to go.

I really enjoyed the few hours we spent in Conwy. I wish I was able to see more of Wales, but it seems like Bank Holiday--this weekend--will be the only opportunity I have and then I'll be in York. Oh well, I guess this just means I'll have to travel back over here so I can see Wales more in-depth some other time!

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