My departure

My departure from Wales was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I definitely did not want to say goodbye- I might still be there right now in fact if I could. There were a lot of tears shed, sad goodbyes said, and hugs from friends. I never imagined it would have been this hard to leave. Wales had definitely become my home that I loved. Jess and I were able to have a goodbye dinner with Tecwyn at the end of the pier in Bangor, which was a nice evening. He was a great director who made our semester wonderful. We also had dinner as a study abroad class two days before I left. I was really distraught, and I started crying when I had to say bye to Tecwyn.
My flatmates gave me a pretty picture frame and a Bangor University teddy bear when they said goodbye. Katie and Vicky were always extremely nice and helpful, and I am thankful they were my roommates. I’ll never forget how Vicky drove me to my first day of class, without her I would have been running hours late- lost and worried. She showed me the grocery stores, the shopping stores, and helped me get settled in. It was really hard saying goodbye to Jesse, I could not even hold it together enough to walk down to the train station with him. The next day Stephanie and I went on our last hike around Bangor and our last shopping spree in Europe. It was a fun day, but we were pretty sad together the whole day.
The next day I woke up and realized it was time to leave for the airport. It was unreal. I drudgingly got out of bed and forced myself to haul my loads of luggage down the hill. I greatly struggled with all of my luggage to the train station, switching stations, and both airports. I had two large bags, a smaller bag, a purse, holding three jackets and then wearing two jackets on top of my clothes- and it was hot outside.
Whenever I was in Chicago on my way into Austin I became excited about coming home. I was really excited to see my mom and dad! I wanted to give them their presents, show them souvenirs, and see them for the first time in 6 months. It felt great to be home and hear Texan accents, but there will always be a place in my heart for Wales.

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My last days in Wales

My last days in Wales
Jess and I decided to make two more day trips before our departure. We decided to visit Llandwyn Island and climb Snowdon. The day we visited Llandwyn Island, or lover’s island, was perfect because it was in the 80s, the sun was shining, and there was a cool breeze throughout the day. Also, I was appreciating my days in Wales more and more as departure was nearing. I had originally discovered Llandwyn Island in my outdoor pursuits course mountain biking. I thought it was so beautiful I must show Jesse. I thought we would not get around to it, but thankfully we were able to go just a few days before we left Wales. It was just a short hour away on the bus to the Isle of Anglesey. We walked through the Newborough Forrest for an hour to reach the coastline. The mountains of Snowdonia and the coastline were an outstanding combination. The sand was warm and soft, too, and we enjoyed walking the Anglesey coastal path to reach the actual island. The island was rather small, but it had ancient Celtic crosses, remains of old churches, a pretty lighthouse, and wonderful coves that provided beaches. We walked all over the Island discovering the ruins of the buildings and the different formations of rocks the waves had created the last hundreds of years. We found lots of interesting sea creature shells and beautifully colored rocks. It was saddening to realize it was one of our last days in Wales.
We also climbed Snowdon, the tallest mountain in the UK and Wales, a few days before departure. Tecwyn gives us a Welsh mug if we reach the peak, and I did not want to miss that! I had planned on climbing Snowdon some time or another the whole semester, but it had just not happened. Well, we started the day off a little too late, and we realized the buses did not come go frequently enough to take us back to Bangor if we were going to summit this mountain. What were we to do? Stay in Snowdonia that night and summit the mountain, or just climb as much as we could and turn around? On the bus to the mountain we met two other ladies who were climbing the mountain from Bangor University who discovered this, also. We explored different hostels for prices, but everything was too expensive, so we began to climb anyways. After climbing the mountain for an hour I did not want to turn around and not summit, no matter where I had to stay the night- this was my last opportunity to reach the peak and I didn’t want to miss the chance. The mountain was very busy because of the great weather. We climbed and we climbed and I felt like we were never going to reach the peak. I had an ear infection, so I was feeling ill as well. However, the sites climbing up
were great, as there were lakes and rivers along rugged valleys. It was a fantastic feeling to reach the top! Also, it was a really clear day, so we were lucky enough to get a great panoramic view of Snowdonia National Park. After taking pictures at the peak and visiting the Snowdon cafe to warm up, we were on our way down. The hike down was also gorgeous, but we were rather in a rush, hopefully finding a way home in time. However, this was not the case. There were no buses left, and the taxis were too expensive. While we were trying to search for hostels, the two other ladies texted us that their friend was giving them a ride home and we could go along, too. What a relieving feeling! I was so glad I decided to climb Snowdon no matter what- and now the Welsh mug is resting on my shelf for all to see.

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Bremen, Germany!

Bremen, Germany

I loved Bremen, Germany. It is full of blossoming purple flowers, very old buildings, windmills, sausage stands, and pretzel shops. It is located in Northern Germany and is known for their science and space innovations. It has 1,200 years of history that  I became immersed in  while walking around this  beautiful city. The  first gorgeous building I saw was St. Petri Dom, or St. Peter’s Cathedral. This Cathedral was prominently noticable because of its two towering peaks that hovered over the central square.  The doors were intricately decorated and the statues outside were interesting. We were able to attend a prayer service during the day in German, which was a neat way to be involved in the culture. This Cathedral is also known for its organ music through the centuries, and their organ dates from the 16th century.

After walking out of St. Petri Dome, I was in the Historische Alstadt, or their town square. This town square was small enough to feel personal, but there were still many things to see and explore. It has beautiful, medieval-style government buildings. They turned some buildings into shops and restaurants. The Roland Statue is located there, too. Our tour guide explained that their Roland Statue is similiar to our Statue of Liberty. And actually, this statue is the only part of the city left untouched by World War II because the citizens built a cement blockade around it. It stands for liberty, independence, and freedom. Another notable building in the historische alstadt was Our Lady church or The Church Unser Lieben Frauen. This was an older church with rich history. I enjoyed the medieval painting on the wall and the well-preserved crypt.

One of the main things I was looking forward to  while visitng Germany was eating pretzels!  Big soft pretzels are one of my favorite treats, and I planned to eat more than a couple  throughout my stay, and that plan was successful. The pretzels were absolutely delicious! There were also sausage stands everywhere, and we were able to try bratwurst along with many  others. The last night we ate a XXXL Currywurst at Schuttingers restaurant. It was almost too much for two people to eat. It was quite delicious and made for some funny pictures.

Another famous part of Bremen, known around the world, is the Town Musicians Statue, or stadtmusikanten. Here is their story:

The Bremen Town Musicians

There was a man who owned a donkey, which had carried his sacks to the mill industriously for many years, but whose strength had come to an end, so that the poor beast grew more and more unfit for work. The master determined to stop his food, but the donkey, discovering that there was no good intended to him, ran away and took the road to Bremen: “There,” thought he, “I can turn Town Musician.”

When he had gone a little way, he found a hound lying on the road and panting, like one who was tired with running. “Hollo! what are you panting so for, worthy Seize ‘em?” asked the donkey.

“Oh!” said the dog, “just because I am old, and get weaker every day, and cannot go out hunting, my master wanted to kill me, so I have taken leave of him; but how shall I gain my living now?”

“I’ll tell you what,” said the donkey, “I am going to Bremen to be Town Musician; come with me and take to music too. I will play the lute, and you shall beat the drum.”

The dog liked the idea, and they travelled on. It was not long before they saw a cat sitting by the road, making a face like three rainy days.

“Now then, what has gone wrong with you old Whiskers?” said the donkey.

“Who can be merry when his neck is in danger?” answered the cat. “Because I am advanced in years, and my teeth are blunt, and I like sitting before the fire and purring better than chasing the mice about, my mistress wanted to drown me. I have managed to escape, but good advice is scarce; tell me where I shall go to?”

“Come with us two to Bremen; you understand serenading; you also can become a Town Musician.”

The cat thought it a capital idea, and went with them. Soon after the three runaways came to a farmyard, and there sat a cock on the gate, crowing with might and main.

“You crow loud enough to deafen one,” said the donkey; “what is the matter with you?”

“I prophesied fair weather,” said the cock, “because it is our good mistress’s washing-day, and she wants to dry the clothes; but because to-morrow is Sunday, and company is coming, the mistress has no pity on me, and has told the cook to put me into the soup to-morrow, and I must have my head cut off to-night: so now I am crowing with all my might as long as I can.”

“O you old Redhead,” said the donkey, “you had better come with us; we are going to Bremen, where you will certainly find something better than having your head cut off; you have a good voice, and if we all make music together, it will be something striking.”

The cock liked the proposal, and they went on, all four together.

But they could not reach the city of Bremen in one day, and they came in the evening to a wood, where they agreed to spend the night. The donkey and the dog laid themselves down under a great tree, but the cat and the cock went higher – the cock flying up to the topmost branch, where he was safest. Before he went to sleep he looked round towards all the four points of the compass, and he thought he saw a spark shining in the distance. He called to his companions that there must be a house not far off; for he could see a light. The donkey said: “Then we must rise and go to it, for the lodgings here are very bad;” and the dog said, “Yes; a few bones with a little flesh on them would do me good.” So they took the road in the direction where the light was, and soon saw it shine brighter; and it got larger and larger till they came to a brilliantly-illumined robber’s house. The donkey, being the biggest, got up at the window and looked in.

“What do you see, Greybeard?” said the cock.

“What do I see?” answered the donkey: “a table covered with beautiful food and drink, and robbers are sitting round it and enjoying themselves.”

“That would do nicely for us,” said the cock.

“Yes, indeed, if we were only there,” replied the donkey.

The animals then consulted together how they should manage to drive out the robbers, till at last they settled on a plan. The donkey was to place himself with his forefeet on the window-sill, the dog to climb on the donkey’s back, and the cat on the dog’s, and, at last, the cock was to fly up and perch himself on the cat’s head. When that was done, at a signal they began their music all together: the donkey brayed, the dog barked, the cat mewed, and the cock crowed; then, with one great smash, they dashed through the window into the room, so that the glass clattered down. The robbers jumped up at this dreadful noise, thinking that nothing less than a ghost was coming in, and ran away into the wood in a great fright. The four companions then sat down at the table, quite content with what was left there, and ate as if they were expecting to fast for a month to come.

When the four musicians had finished, they put out the light, and each one looked out for a suitable and comfortable sleeping-place. The donkey lay down on the dunghill, the dog behind the door, the cat on the hearth near the warm ashes, and the cock set himself on the hen-roost; and, as they were all tired with their long journey, they soon went to sleep. Soon after midnight, as the robbers in the distance could see that no more lights were burning in the house, and as all seemed quiet, the captain said, “We ought not to have let ourselves be scared so easily,” and sent one of them to examine the house. The messenger found everything quiet, went into the kitchen to light a candle, and, thinking the cat’s shining fiery eyes were live coals, he held a match to them to light it. But the cat did not understand the joke, flew in his face, spat at him, and scratched. He was dreadfully frightened, ran away, and was going out of the back door; when the dog, who was lying there, jumped up and bit him in the leg. As he ran through the yard, past the dunghill, the donkey gave him a good kick with his hind-foot; and the cock being awakened, and made quite lively by the noise, called out from the hen-roost “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

The robber ran as hard as he could, back to the captain, and said: “Oh, dear! in the house sits a horrid old witch, who blew at me, and scratched my face with her long fingers; and by the door stands a man with a knife, who stabbed me in the leg; and in the yard lies a black monster, who hit me with a club; and up on the roof there sits the judge, who called out, ‘Bring the rascal up here’ – so I made the best of my way off.”

From that time the robbers never trusted themselves again in the house; but the four musicians liked it so well that they could not make up their minds to leave it, and spent there the remainder of their days, as the last person who told the story is ready to avouch for a fact.

 

And because of this well-known story, tourists were gathered around this statue at all times during the day taking pictures. I heard some say it was their favorite childhood story and they have been waiting a long time to see it.

I also really wanted to see a windmill in Germany, and there was a beautiful one on a lake surrounded by tulips that I was able to visit. This was in Wallanlugen Park that was full of flowers, tall green trees, and nice walking trails.

My favorite part in Bremen was kunstsammlungen bottcherstrasse. It is the historic street that is full of culture and music. While it is less than 400 meters long, it is fascinating and I walked through it at least three times. The buildings were all different but all connected, and there was art everywhere I looked. A little shop I particularly enjoyed was the Bremen bonbon manufakter. I saw them make candy from start to finish, and then I was able to taste the different assortments. I was also able to try homemade chocolate truffels from Hachez chocolatiere, the first chocolate shop in Bremen. I also saw Bremen ship bread at some sweet shops, which is the famous bread that was made in mass amounts and given to the sailors. In fact, walking out of kunstsammlungen bottscherstrasse I was in Schlate, the historical harbour district.

I also spent a lot of time in the Schnoorviertal square district, the oldest part of town. There were so many lanes with narrow ally ways. All the houses dated back from the 15th to 16th century. The  tour guide pointed out a lot of interesting history, and actually it would have been a place you would not have wanted to live in because of the close quarters and archeticture. However, today it attracts thousands of visitors that spend their whole day there.

This was a wonderful last trip. 

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Bath, England <3 & our hot air balloon ride!

May 23-26

                We were only in Bath, England for three days, but I felt immersed in the culture and identity of this city. It is in southwest England and granted city status by Queen Elizabeth in 1590. It is a quaint, elegant city with a proper atmosphere if you will. It feels very English, but in a different way than London. It reminded me more of York, but with a tad more poshness. It was neat because the locals we met were very excited to call themselves a citizen of Bath, and willing to share and tell stories about their great homeland. This city was first established by the Romans in 60 AD when they discovered the spa. It is now declared a World Heritage Site first in 1987.

                One of the first buildings we noticed upon arrival was the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, or the Bath Abbey. It is now an Anglican parish, but once a Benedictine monastery. This beautiful Abbey was founded in the 7th century, and is full of history and heritage. It does not look the same as it once did in the 7th century, as it has had restoration work and parts have been rebuilt, but it still contains the centuries of history. The church looks somewhat small on the outside, but it can seat more than 1200 people, and holds prayer services daily and many formal services every week.

                Of course stonehenge was an essential destination while spending five months in the UK. It was much harder to reach than previously expected.This is because it is actually located in Wiltshire England, so we had to take a special Stonehenge bus. Stonehnege is also known for the earthworks, and our guide discussed the signficance. It was probably built around 2500 BC. It was originally a burial ground, and then continued to be such a place for hundreds of years. No one quite knows exactly why the stones are they, when they were placed there, and how they got them there. That is one of the most beautiful things about stonehenge in my opinion. Also, that it took the builders over 1000 years to complete!  It was interesting that a popular, credible theory suggests the stones originally came from Wales. It is just mind boggling to imagine how they possibly transfered theses stones, some weighing more than 20 tons, over 200 miles to their final destination. My favorite, newer theory states that building stonehenge was a sign of unification between peoples of the UK.

                The Roman Baths were absolutely brilliant! Interestingly enough, this historic sight is below street level. It includes the Roman Bath House, the Temple, and the Sacred Spring. At the end of the tour you can try some of the spring water, and it is just nasty- horrible, horrible taste. But supposedly people would drink vast amounts because of the alledged healing properties, for those with diseases such as leprosasy. A reason for this taste could be how the water arrives. This water literally bubbled up from the ground, initially attracting the Romans, after going through limestone aquifers 9000 feet under the ground. I was able to see how the water went through the ground, as well. The baths were not built instantly, but rather over 300 years. It took me over three hours to walk through them all, learning and listening to the history and culture. In general, being clean was essential for the Romans, and going to these baths was frequent, if not daily, for a lot of Romans. They did not just bathe, but is was a social place and also for exercising. During our tour we learned interesting facts, such as how they used little tools to scrap off the dirt before going into the warm room, then the very warm room, and lastly the cold room.

                We were also able to go the fashion museum. This collection began in 1963 and has fashionable outfits from all the way back in the 16th century to today’s fashion. It has more than 30,000 objects.  They also had the “Dress of the Year” collection. Many fashion experts have selected these each year, including Giorgio Almani and Alber Elbaz. Afterwards we stopped by the English rescue agency for pets shop. This is like our goodwill for dogs. I bought a couple of items, wanting to support dog adoption in the UK, too. After leaving this cute little shop we caught a glimpse of the fudge factory, and could not resist. The fudge was quite delicious, and it was fun being able to watch them make it.

                The Victorian Art Galleries were enjoyable. The outside contains a statue of Queen Victoria along with other classical figures, as it was dedicated to celebrate Queen Victoria’s rule for sixty years. For dinner we found a cute place called the Pig & Fiddle. We went with another couple from America, and we listened to live music while we ate. I was able to try a kangaroo burger! Unfortunately, it was rather disappointing, and I’d rather stick to my regular. Talking about music, there were numerous, frequent live musicians through the streets of Bath, which made ordinary strolls through the city extraordinary and interesting.

                The next day started great with a church service at St. Michaels. The members were very friendly, and we enjoyed the service. After, we took a tour around Bath, learning interesting history and noticing certain things we had not before. Next we went to tea time in the royal crescent hotel. The Royal Crescent is a street of 30 houses in a crescent design. It was built in 1767. It is one of Bath’s best examples of Georgian Architecture. Tea time was quite quaint and British, and I’m glad I had this experience. We were in a typical English garden, where many people were just sitting drinking tea and eating biscuits (cookies). My loose leaf tea was delicious, and it was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

                The best part of our Bath trip was coming up fast! Our hot air balloon ride! It began in the Royal Victoria Park, which we explored prior. It was one of the best experiences of my life!! It was great being able to see the balloon become inflated, and it literally felt like we were floating in the sky. Bath looked the most beautiful from up in the sky. The landscape was gorgeous and the colors were amazing. The Royal Crescent looked small from our balloon. It never felt like we left the ground, but we were gliding along in the sky with the clouds. I wanted the balloon ride to last all day, but unfortunately I knew it had to come to an end. Our landing ended with our basket on its side, so that was fun. While waiting to be picked up, we just relaxed in a field watching the sunset. 

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Edinburgh, Scotland

May 19, 2013

Our three day trip to Edinburgh was great! I fell in love with Scotland capriciously. After stepping off the train, I heard the sound of bagpipes. The bagpipe player was performing in front of the Scott Monument fully dressed in traditional clothing. After telling him I’m from Austin, Texas, he then continued to play “The Eyes of Texas” on the bagpipes and then made the longhorn sign upon finishing. It made my week!
The Scott Monument brings fond memories of the bagpipe player, and it is also a Victorian Gothic monument to remember the author Sir Walter Scott. It is over 200 feet tall looking over Princes Street Gardens. A statue of Scott is between the tower’s four columns resting from long hours of writing.
The first evening we were short on time, but we were able to make it to Calton Hill and the Nelson Monument. We were already able to see the beautiful landscape of Holyrood Park and various monuments important to the Scottish. Calton Hill is considered a world heritage site. Many climb to the top to take pictures of the city and landscape. It is also the headquarters of the Scottish Government. On Calton Hill there are numerous monuments, including Scottish Parliament Building, National Monument, Nelson Monument, Dugald Steward Monument, old Royal High School, Robert Burns Monument, the Political Martyr’s Monument and the City Observatory. The Scottish National Monument has an interesting story. It was intended to look like the Parthenon to remember the soldiers who were killed in the Napoleonic wars. However, the building of this monument was halted because of lack of funds. Therefore, it has never been completed. Some know this monument as “Scotland’s Disgrace” but I still found it to be great.
We ended the day at “The Stand” attending a comedy show. We really enjoyed it and were able to hear from local Scottish comedians. All of the acts were good and we were involved in the night life of Edinburgh.

May 20, 2013
Our second day in Edinburgh was eventful. We first visited the National Galleries of Scotland. This was an intriguing gallery that we enjoyed. It is in a neoclassical building with hundreds of different works from different centuries. It was founded in 1819 and has been building its galleries since. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through this gallery, reading about the artwork, and just taking in the beauty of these paintings in Scotland.
Afterwards we joined an Edinburgh tour that gave us insight on different places and history. Our tour guide was nice, and we were able to get to know the city better. We walked by the Elephant House, where J.K. Rowling wrote a large majority of her first Harry Potter novels while looking at Edinburgh Castle. Our tour guide explained the stories of William Walace and the Stone of Destiny. We visited Greyfriars Kirkyard and Greyfriar’s Bobby, too. Bobby was a terrier that stayed beside his owner’s grave for 14 years until he passed away in 1872. There is a statue of him near the Kirkyard. Grassmarket was explained on the tour as well. It is an historic square in the Old Town that has a lot of history. I could see a great view of the castle from this square. In 1477 all the way to 1911 the Grassmarket was for horse and cattle, but even more interestingly the square for executions. We learned about Maggie Dickson. Maggie was hanged after murdering her own baby, but awoke on her way to the graveyard. It was considered an intervention of God, so she was a free woman. There is a pub named after her in the Grassmarket Square.
Then we visited St. Giles Cathedral after being introduced to it during the tour. This cathedral contains one out of two angels holding bagpipes carving in the world. This is the Church of Scotland. It can clearly be seen when walking through most of Edinburgh because of the steeples. It has been in the city for hundreds of years serving as the main religious building. St. Giles is also the saint of Edinburgh, who was one of the most popular saints during the Middle Ages because of his cures for common spreading diseases. I really liked all of the flags hanging throughout the Cathedral and the beautiful angel carvings in the prayer chapel.
In order to get back to the hostel we walked through the Princes Street Gardens, which made for a great walk every time. Our hostel was quite close to these gardens, so we were able to walk through them several times. The Edinburgh Castle is towering over them and the Scott Monument marks the beginning of the trails. The tulips in the numerous flower beds were blossoming and vibrant.
We visited the National Museum of Scotland that afternoon. We only spent around two hours there, and it would take more than two days to see it all. It was founded not too long ago in 1985 and newly amalgamated in 2006. They have a lot of exhibitions on Scottish heritage and history as well as the Royal Museum that contains exhibitions on other things, such as animals and science. One of my favorite things I was able to see was the stuffed Dolly the Sheep. Dolly was the first successful clone of a mammal from an adult cell. We were also able to see the large animal exhibit, the music instruments, Ancient Egyptians exhibition, and the Millennium Clock. The Scottish Museum thoroughly covered their history, so it was neat to walk through the museum like I was walking through history. It was almost overwhelming in the museum because it had 8 floors full of hundreds of displays.
In the evening we ate haggis, tatties and neeps at King’s Tavern Whisky Bar. It was not as bad as I expected, but the texture was not pleasant. It is the national dish of Scotland. Haggis is a “pudding” made of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal and salt. Then they cook it in the sheep’s lining of their stomach for hours and it’s ready to serve. The restaurant served haggis in a whiskey sauce, which helped mask some of the unwanted taste. It was traditional to have whisky along with haggis, neeps and tatties.
There was a live band playing in the pub that night and I was able to play a song with them! The band was called Lucky in Kentucky and I bought their CD “Old Dollar Bill” after they finished their show. I played “Wagon Wheel” with them. I played the guitar, one guy played the drums and the other guy played the mandolin. It was a good time.

May 21, 2013
In the morning we climbed Arthur’s seat. This was the most memorable part of my trip to Edinburgh. The sites were spectacular. It took about an hour to climb to the peak, and we could see the whole city from the top, including the ocean. Arthur’s Seat is the highest peak among in the Holyrood Park. The location was interesting because it was basically in the middle of the city infrastructure, not on the outskirts of the city or a drive away. I also saw dormant volcanoes while climbing. Some of these volcanoes are around 400 million years old. It was fun to get to a plaque on the top that said Arthur’s Seat and admire the coastline and buildings at the same time.
Afterwards we ventured to Cramond Village. It is a seaside village that sits next to a river and contains a peaceful sailboat harbor and walking trails. Cramond is also a place of extensive history all the way back to the Mesolithic and Bronze Ages. After walking along the beach we found a great hiking trail next to a rushing river. In the harbor there were baby ducklings swimming in line after the big mother duck. There was a delightful tea room next to the river, as well.
Edinburgh is a gorgeous destination with much more to discover and see, but I am thankful I had the opportunity to explore for a few days.

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Penryhn Castle!

May 18, 2013

Our trip to Penryhn Castle was our last fieldtrip. This was also our shortest fieldtrip. I have enjoyed the fieldtrips very much, so it was a bittersweet day. Penrhyn Castle and the surrounding areas were striking, and I was glad I had the opportunity to visit. It is a Norman castle, but originally a medieval manor house. It is an example of Normal revival. I really liked all of the wood carving throughout the castle. The one ton bed made of pure slate made for Queen Victoria’s visit was also amazing. Upon walking in I saw gorgeous stained glass windows, grand piano, Victorian furniture, and general splendor. All of the bedrooms were different, and the library and study rooms were absolutely elegant. I think my favorite would be the dining room. The ceiling carvings were phenomenal, and the table settings were beautiful. Some of the paintings in the house were painted by Rembrandt, a world famous artist. Outside there was a walled garden, a railway museum, and bog garden. The castle cost the Pennant Family around 150,000 pounds when they built it. Today that would be around 50 million pounds!

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Harlech Castle, Portmeirion, and Beddgelert, Wales :)

May 17, 2013
Fieldtrip
We had a fieldtrip to Harlech Castle, Portmeirion, and Beddgelert. This was one of my favorite fieldtrips. Harlech Castle is considered a medieval fortification. It is a Norman castle, built by Edward 1st in his invasion of Wales. It became owned by the Welsh around 1404. It is a world heritage site and UNESCO considers this castle to be “one of the finest examples of late 13th and early 14th century military architecture in Europe.” I really liked the castle’s scenery, as the sea and rocky cliffs surround the castle. The twin-towered gatehouse was also particularly awesome.
Afterwards we visited Portmeirion. Portmeirion is one of my favorite places on earth. The three hours I spent there were fabulous, and hopefully one day I can visit again. It is a tiny paradise tucked away in Wales. It is unlike any other place I have seen, and I very much loved it. It is a tourist village designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis around 1920. Supposedly it looks very similar to Portofino in Italy. Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’ goal was to display the beauty of the Mediterranean and share it with Wales. I loved all of the colors and shapes of the buildings. It has a beautiful hotel, shops, spa, and ice cream stops. The gardens and walking trails around Portmeirion were also great! Some of the trails led to the sea, where the sand was soft and the mountains could be seen across the water.
Our last stop of the day was to Beddglert. Beddgelert was a great town near Snowdonia with amazing scenery. The rushing rivers along the greenest banks with beautiful mountains in the background made the trip memorably great. In the fields there were many lambs running about and houses made of stone. It was a small Welsh town that has a lot to offer. It is supposedly named after Gelert the dog. Legend says that a Prince of Wales came back to his hunting lodge to find the place a mess, and saw his 9 month old son’s cradle upside down with blood around it, thinking Gelert had betrayed him- he drew his sword and killed the dog. Only after further inspection did he find the dead body of a large wolf. What had really taken place became apparent as he heard his baby cry- Gelert had saved his son from the wolf. Filled with much grief he created a memorial for him and many come to pay their respects today, sometimes leaving dog bones or treats.

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