Posted by: lindsaygoes | August 30, 2011

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch, and other interesting places

Taken from a tall, tall tower

The day after we climbed Donas Bran we were back on the bus. First we had a quick stop at ‘The Ugly House’, which apparently dates back to a period in Wales where they had a rule that if you could build a house between dusk and dawn and have a fire in it by the next day, you could have the house and the land it was on. I really didn’t think it was all that ugly! Then we went to Conwy Castle, which was a proper fairytale castle, with lots of towers and turrets, and the expectation of a fire breathing dragon! I climbed to the top of the tallest castle, and then had to climb all the way down the winding stairs. Then I had a walk along the old town walls, which gave a lovely view of the castle and the estuary with all the boats (it also had narrow staircases though) and went into the smallest house in Great Britain, which apparently an old couple had lived in, and a six foot sailor (at separate times). It was very, very small. But quite delightful. Our next stop was
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch, which has the third longest place name in the world, which translates as ‘The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave’, and we really only visited to take some photos of signs (I’m such a tourist!). Then we were off to Pen y Pass at the base of Mount Snowdon, and took the miners track part way up the mountain. It was a lovely walk, and we even saw some sheep. Then we learned the legend of the dog Gelert and saw his grave. Finally we finished the day in Caenarfon, where we saw another castle. We were going to do a ghost tour, and we got there in time, but after waiting past the start time, we realised we must have been in the wrong place. I’m still not sure where the right place was. But I got some nice ‘castle at night’ photographs, which is always a bonus.

The next day we visited the towns of Dolgellau and Machylleth, an ancient capital of Wales, learning some Welsh history along the way (if you’re interested, look it up, I can’t remember the details anymore), and then visited Devil’s Bridge. The legend there goes that an old woman had a cow and was looking for a place to cross the river (even at this point my cynicism is coming through, surely if the old woman was local she would know where to cross the river), when the Devil appeared and offered to build a bridge (must have been a quiet day in Hell), for the price of the first soul to cross the bridge. The old woman (not sure how her age is relevant to the story) thought about it and eventually agreed, particularly after the Devil said ‘But wait, there’s more! If you agree now, I’ll build, not one, but three bridges’ (seriously, shouldn’t he be off planning ironic punishments in Hell?). So anyway, the Devil built the three bridges and stood there smugly (as only Devil’s can) waiting for the woman to cross the bridge. She picked up a stick and threw it across and her dog ran across to get the stick becoming the first soul to cross. I imagine the Devil was a little pissed. You also have to imagine this story being told in the various accents of our tour guide. But the bridge/s are pretty cool, even in the rain. After Devil’s Bridge it was on to Cardiff, where we ended up being really lazy and instead of going out, watched Torchwood (which is kind of Cardiff related).

We had the following morning in Cardiff, and I had a walk along the River Taff to the Millenium Centre and then back into town, and to Cardiff Castle. The inside of the castle was amazing, covered in Victorian era, medieval style interiors, full of crests, murals and sculptures in bright colours. I also visited the wartime tunnels in the castle, which had more sound effects than substance, and Cardiff market. The final stop in Wales was Caerleon, an old Roman town with some lovely Roman baths as well as the ruins of an amphitheater. Than night in London I saw Billy Elliot, which was lots of fun!

I had the weekend in London and on the Saturday morning I did a tour of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. Quite a similar style to Cardiff Castle with Victorian neo-gothic interiors (but I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside). The level of intricacy and opulence throughout was incredible, although the Lords Chamber was much more richly decorated than the Commons. After I’d finished I crossed the road to Westminster Abbey, which was completely different from what I’d expected. After visiting other churches I was expecting a kind of grand, consistent design, but it was a warren of different chapels, crowded with tombs, memorials and tourists, so quite an interesting place to wander around. Apart from the unnecessary emphasis on the word ‘theory’ in the phrase ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution’, the audio guide was good…until it stopped working. At that point the only guide around was a rather elderly lady, who gave me the impression she wasn’t overly confident with technology. But she found me another guide, and I managed to get that working. Then it was a rest before I went out to see Shrek the musical, which was very funny (particularly Lord Farquaad) and had some amazing props. The only issues I had were the American accents (I have no problem with accents that are relevant to the story, but when it’s set in a fantasy land, surely the actors can use their own accents?), and the fact that there was only one song from the movie. I love the movie music, I even bought the CD (actually bought, not just burned off someone else).

On the Sunday I went to Greenwich which is a really lovely area, and a bit more chilled than other parts of London. I went to the Royal Observatory and stood on the Meridian Line, as well as saw all the amazing clocks and telescopes they had there. At the Astronomical Museum I saw a show in a planetarium (I’ve never been to a planetarium before, so I’m not too old for it!) about comets and asteroids. If you are going to a planetarium the best seats seem to be at the back…I sat at the front. Then it was onto the Maritime Museum where I had a tour from a guy with his fly undone (I should have said something) and then I escaped from the rain in the Queen’s Palace. It was still raining when I was going to leave so I did a survey. My second of the weekend. I always get asked to do stuff like that. Maybe I need to glare more and smile less. Then I went to Greenwich market, where I bought the wrong food, and then left my umbrella on the tube. It was raining quite a lot (hiding from the rain by doing the survey turned out to be pointless). After hiding under London Bridge for a bit I battled my way through the unpleasant weather and eventually bought a London umbrella, as I left the shop the rain had stopped and I still haven’t used the umbrella (I’ve now had it for three weeks, this email is a bit delayed). I met up with a friend after that and we saw a couple of free musicals at the scoop (taking my musical quota for the weekend to four). We saw ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ which was lots of fun, and ‘The Mother’ a much darker, revolutionary play, but very interesting. Many of the same actors appeared in both plays, very versatile. The only problem was that as it was outside, in London, it was freeeezing by the time it finished!

Alright, I’ll end it there for the moment, and fill you in on the rest of my adventures during August a little later…there are many more to come!

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