Sunday, June 30, 2013

One Last London Adventure

Right before heading home, Adrianna and I took our last train out to London.  We were both flying out Heathrow airport on the same day about 15 minutes apart so we decided to travel together.  We figured going out the day before our flight would be the safest bet just encase trains got delayed or we missed our connection.  We also figured it wouldn't be too bad since the place we were staying at was right near a local train stop.  However, we were far from being correct...

We got into Euston station just fine but had to make our way over to Paddington Station for the local trains.  You would think these being two major train stations there would be lifts and such to help people, right?  Well we couldn't find the lift in Euston and then later learned it was across a highway where we had to walk a distance to cross.  Then there wasn't a lift up at Paddington from the tube (or subway) but there was thankfully one down to the train.  When we got to the station near our hotel, there again wasn't a lift.  Thankfully we met some very nice people who helped us out with going up and down the stairs.  The joke, "You should learn to pack lighter" got old very fast.  We were carrying 5 1/2 months worth of stuff!!

After we checked into the hotel Adrianna and I then headed back into the city to see Wicked.  Adrianna got us 6th row seats for only about $30 because they claimed to be an obstructed view.  We really didn't miss anything.  I've seen it on Broadway and it was interesting to compare the two different styles.  I can't say which I preferred better because they were both so good!

The next day brought our sad departure from Heathrow.  However, I do have some exciting news!  My dad pre-booked my seat for me so I wouldn't be stuck in a middle seat in coach the hole way home.  When I handed the woman my boarding card it beeped and showed I had been upgraded to business class!  It was very exciting!  I had an asile seat in a two seater so it wasn't a bad ride all the way home at all!  I thanked my dad as soon as I got off the plane because without him I probably would have been stuck in coach!

One last post to come on my trip!  Look for it soon!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Goodbye Wales

During my last few weeks in Wales, I tried to spend as much time as I could outside.  I took in everything one last time and found some places I hadn't before.  Adrianna and I took a few walks along the different roads because we knew we would miss it as soon as we stepped on that plane.  We kept telling ourselves and each other we were ready to go home and see our families but we knew after a short time we would wish we were back there.  Here are some pictures from our last few walks around our home in another land:

It is sad to say goodbye but the memories will last me a life time...

A few more posts left from my adventures so don't think it's over yet!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Houses, Knights, and Castles in Conwy

Conwy was a definite place I wanted to go before I left.  I had heard so many great things about it and there were things there I wanted to see. Adrianna had been there before so she said we only really needed an afternoon to enjoy it since it wasn't too big and everything was more sightseeing then touring.  So we had a delicious lunch and packed some water to head out.

Our first stop was the smallest house in Great Britian.  As you can see by the picture the door only came up to my shoulder.  However, once you went inside I could just barely stand up straight without hitting my head.  There was a tour guide out front who answered your questions and was willing to take pictures with you...she recommended you put the hat on so you looked Welsh.  What do you think?  Does it suit me?
We then decided to meander around town, browsing at the mom and pop shops along the way.  I did meet my knight in shining armor while I was there.  (I think Mike the Knight might be jealous.)
Conwy is also still surrounded by the castle walls which were built to originally protect the city.  The are still able to be walked along (although with some safety renovations).  It was cool to walk the perimeter of the town without actually having to worry about crossing streets and such.  There were even some towers you could climb up.
You even got one of the best views of Conwy Castle too!  No buildings, trees, or people blocking your view.
 We even found some "hidden hideaways" were we had to  pose for pictures.
Probably one of the most memorable or at least funny memories for the day was when we bought some ice cream.  We decided to eat it down by the water because it was such a beautiful day and because we looked like we were having fun, BBC asked if they could film us for a small news segment about people enjoying the nice weather.  I never saw the actual clip but if we were on it we had some 15 seconds of fame before we left!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Flying in Llandudno

Llandudno is one of Wale's "hot spots" for tourists.  It is pretty central to all the other cute little towns I was visiting.  It was a "hot spot" when we went there because there was a lot of hustle and bustle going on in the main part of town.

One of the major draws is the Great Orme Mine which dates back 4,000 years as a copper mine.  We weren't particularly interested in the mine but rather the view from the top of the mountain it was situated inside of.  Also, from the top of the mountain was a cable car, actually it is the longest cable car in Great Britain, which runs from the top of the mountain to the ocean (actually on the other side of the road).
Izzy and I on the cable car
Adrianna wasn't too keen on heights
But she smiled anyways!
Some Dragon fun
As we came over the last part of the mountain we got a clear view of the ocean and pier.  The pier was a lot like the Bangor Pier except it had an arcade.
And of course we played some games and won some tickets.  There was nothing we really wanted and we didn't have a lot of tickets so we gave then to a family as we were leaving.
It was another beautiful day and some more great memories as we headed back up the mountain to head back to Bangor.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Llanberis Train Ride and Slate Mesuem

My friend Adrianna really wanted to do a steam train ride before we left so we decided to head out to Llanberis since they had a ride that went around the lake.  On a clear day you can see all the mountains, including the top of Snowdon.  The other neat thing was that the train ride also stopped at a slate museum which I was interested in checking out.  So we killed two birds with one stone in this trip.
Our train
I know it's the conductor's job to be warm and friendly but our's was especially happy.  He was a bit older, probably just retired and was doing this to stay busy but you could tell he loved it!  Any time he drove by kids, he would smile, wave, and toot the horn.  I never saw him stop smiling the entire day.
We again lucked out with beautiful weather and had amazing views along the journey.  The weather was fairly warm but I still thought a sweatshirt was needed.  However, some people thought it was really warm because there were some people swimming!
We got off at the Slate Museum stop and decided to have a small picnic outside.  One thing I've noticed about museums in the UK is a lot of them used to house whatever they have on display.  I don't remember when this slate operation shut down but it was cool to see the machinery still up and some of it actually still in operation, like the water wheel!
We had some fun with our Dragon while we were there too!  Here is Adrianna posing with Deiniol with the water wheel in the background.
We also decided to play spot the dragon with the back hoe.  Can you find Deiniol?
After our slate museum adventure we decided to walk out to Dolbadram Castle.  It is basically a ruin and isn't too big but the view was great!  I'm thinking of framing this picture to hang up in our house somewhere.
We still managed to have some fun while exploring.
We even were able to set a camera up on a timer so we could get a group picture since no one else seemed to be around at the time.
Izzy, Adrianna, and Me
The adventures we had in our last week were probably the best ones I had because there was no worry or stress over school work.  It was like a mini-vacation.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A 7 Mile Walk

After all our exams and papers were finally complete Adrianna and I decided to spend the rest of our time exploring different places near Bangor.  We only had a week before we both flew home so we decided to use it wisely.  Our first trip was a 7 mile walk from our residence halls in Bangor to Beuamaris Castle.  We checked the weather and picked a beautiful day to go.  It wasn't too hot which was nice but the sun was shining.  We left about 10am with some water and packed lunch.  We looked at a map online to get a general idea of where to go but we figured we'd mostly wing it.

Our journey started off well and we only made a wrong turn when leaving Menai but a nice couple gave us directions to set us off on the right track.  Their directions were better than ours but it took us by fields so if we got lost we had to ask the sheep which way to go...
 ...but thankfully we never got lost.

We didn't always know exactly where we were but we could always (or most of the time) see the river and Bangor so we knew the general direction we had to head in.
We were even able to judge our distance to Beaumaris based on the Bangor Pier.  We knew we were slightly passed the half-way point when we passed it so we got excited.
Also, we stumbled across the coastal path at one point and we again got excited because we knew the trail head right to Beaumaris.  So for the rest of our trip we played find the sign!
It directed us into a field at one point and we weren't quite sure where to go since there was nothing but trees on the other side.
We scanned the tree line and found and arrow off in the distance.  Every time we broke through to a field we would stand there for a moment and be like, "where next?"  Even on some of the trails through the trees there would be a fork in the path and no sign so we would take the one that looked most traveled.  It was a pretty entertaining morning and a lot of fun.

Once, we both shouted for joy when we came out at the top of the hill which led into Beaumaris.  These people who were tending sheep looked at us like we were odd but then we stared back because one of them was actually using a Shepard's staff!  (We did think it would be awkward to take a picture of him staring at us)
We decided to eat lunch out by the water and we picked a good spot because they were having sail boat races that day.  It was cool to watch them go back and forth through the course.
We ended up taking the bus back because we were both a bit tired but it was definitely worth the walk!  We even celebrated our success with some Spaghetti Tacos.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Going Underground!

Before really buckling down and studying for my exam I decided to have one last adventure.  It was probably one of the best adventures I had this entire semester.  I decided to go underground in a slate mine! I wanted to something really adventurous since I love doing different things.  I decided on this adventure because there was some hiking, traversing, boating, repelling, zip-lining, and exploring involved.

Since I was without a car, my guide was super helpful by picking me up and dropping me off at the train station near their location!  There was no real public transportation outside of the nearest town to their headquarters so it was super helpful since the day I choose it decided to pour and I wasn't too keen on walking the 2 miles out to them.  It was also super convenient to go through them because they lent me all the equipment I needed and didn't bring with me (like shoes and waterproof pants).  They also supplied harnesses, helmets (which I desperately needed), and a head lamp.
Entering the mine
I really didn't know what to expect when starting.  One thing I learned quickly was to pick my feet up high, especially when trekking through pools of water.   I don't know how people did this everyday but I give them credit.  I know I'm tall and I never really notice it but I had to hunch over most of the day which means I hit my head more then I care to admit.  My friends are probably shaking their head at me right now when they read this because they know how accident prone I am.  But it was a really cool experience.

Our first task was taking a raft across a pool of water which used to be a drainage system but hasn't been drained since the mine shut down operation.  In the middle of it they had us shut off our lamps to see how dark it really was and let me say it was dark.  

Afterwards we had a lesson on traversing and tried our hand at it.  During this activity, I admit, I became known as 'that girl'.  I literally got tangled midway across the course and had to be rescued.  I still remember my one guide encouraging me and the conversation we had:
     Guide:  "You can do it!  Just take the step!" 
     Me:  "I'm stuck"
     Guide:  "No you're not, I know you can do this!"
     Me:  "No, I'm literally stuck."
This led to me being rescued on the first obstacle.  Our second obstacle was a zip-line where I again managed to get tangled in the ropes.  The zip-line only brought you half-way and the rest you hand-over-hand it which is when I got tangled.

The rest of my day I managed to stay tangled free but everyone kept checking on me.  We did some climbing and repelling which was pretty good.  We stopped for a lunch break in the deepest part we made it too and had some free time to explore the surrounding area.

After lunch we started our climb up and out of the mine.  The next place I got a bit tangled was when we had to climb up a waterfall.  If you did it right you didn't get too wet but I ended up tumbling under the main stream because I slipped and was drenched by the time I got my bearings.  I made it up and then came the last climb up a steep ladder where you saw daylight getting closer and closer to you.  It was a good motivator to keep climbing because it was a long climb.

Here are a few pictures from the day:
Thumbs up in the mine
Repelling down further into the mine
The eyes which are watching you in the mine
The ladder up to the light and fresh air

The great adventurer!
On the trail hiking back to the cars
Some slate statues along the hike
It was a great day and I highly recommend doing it!  If you want do the program I did here is there website:  I highly recommend them because they were very informative and helpful!  They also run group programs for people traveling in a group.  Check them out!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Walking to Menai

On a Saturday morning my friend, Adrianna, and I decided to take a wander out to the Menai Bridge which is right by where we live.  It only took about an hour to walk there so we thought it would be a good thing to do on a nice day.  We picked a good one too!

The Menai Bridge
We had decided before hand to walk across the bridge because how many times in my life am I going to walk across it?  Well I can answer twice (the second time to come soon!).   It was a really cool and a bit nerving at the same time since it was so high and the pedestrian walkway is separated from the car lanes.  But we did it!
We spent a short time walking around town, just seeing what was going on.  Menai is a small town so there wan't much to do but it was still a nice walk.  We walked down to the pier and it was cool to point across the water and say, "I started there."

Me and Adrianna
We were originally going to take a bus back to campus but it was such a nice day we walked back instead.  It was a nice adventure which didn't eat up most of our day so we still could study for our exams.  I'm glad we did it because it inspired us to plan a walk to Beaumaris which we did a week later after our exams.  That post to come later!