[This series of posts comes directly from the journal I wrote during our vacation. Most entries were written on the date noted. Some were written a couple of days later. I'm not editing them significantly, except where noted. The full collection of all posted pictures. North Wales Flickr Set.]
[Written 7/4] We ventured [i.e. drove for half a day] into North Wales on 7/1, and thus began our decent into vacation fatigue. We arrived at the Fairy Falls Hotel in Trefriw and were immediately worried by the squishy floors and the almost terrible dinner. We were really worried. We were also low on clean clothes [we hadn't done laundry since Germany] and were dismayed at what we found in nearby Llanrwst. [The "laundro-mat" was really another motel's laundry facility with sheets filling the dryers and no prices listed. We were resigned to take our laundry on the next day to a local dry cleaners who would do laundry by the pound. We were pretty stressed at this point.]
[Written 7/4] At breakfast, we told Debbie [one of the owners of Fairy Falls] of our plan to take our clothes to the drycleaners and pay them by the pound to do our laundry. She insisted on doing a bag (we gave her two plus detergent), then hung it out to dry. When we got home, the clothes were clean and dry in our room. She made it possible for us to enjoy this day rather than waste it (or money) on laundry. Debbie saved this day for us.
We ventured up to Conwy, visiting the castle and exploring the town and water front. Tide was going out while we were there causing the river to go from very wide to little more than 50 feet across. Boats were all sitting on the muddy bottom. On they quay there was a “European” festival with some fun food vendors and other interesting crafts.
[it seems like I could have written a good bit more about this day, but that's a hazard of writing the entry a couple of days later. For example, we took a fun boat tour up the river, and could notice a difference in the tide from the time we went out to the time we returned. Also, we ate dinner at the Galleon, and I was getting a little tired of Fish & Chips. In fact, I didn't want chips (fries) at all. But just look at this menu--only one item doesn't come with chips.]
[Written 7/4] We started the day by taking the kids up the river by the hotel to the namesake Fairy Falls. While we were looking at the falls, Anne tried to pull some trash from the water, slipped, and fell in. She had a small cut on her finder, bruised her hip, and dropped the Flip into the water. It sat in the water for 3-4 minutes before we realized it. (We let the Flip dry out for a day and then it worked fine).
After Anne changed, we headed out, stopped by Dolbadarn Castle, then onto the Isle of Anglesey. After lunch, we went to Beaumaris, visited the castle, and hung out quay-side.
After Beaumaris, we went to the southern tip of Anglesey to a beach new Niwbwrch. Again, it was low tide and the beach sand was amazing–easily 1/4 mile of beach was exposed at low tide, and we could walk another 200 meters in the water before it got above our knees. The North Wales mountains were in the background, making for another incredibly scenic beach evening.
We headed home not knowing where to eat. We stopped at an inn close to the beach and all ordered Chicken Tikka Masala. It took forever for the food to arrive, but when it did, it was amazing.
Today we toured the woolen mill in Trefriw, then found a very old church nearby. We went to the Snowdon Mountain Railway hoping to pay them handsomely for a ride to the top (86£ [$144]) but were told upon entering the parking lot that if we didn’t have reserved tickets, we weren’t getting on. Bummer.
So we headed toward Caernarfon to visit the castle. Before the castle, we were eating lunch on some steps near a fountain in a public square [watching a dog and kids playing in the water]. Before I was 1/4 into my sandwich, a sea gull had swooped down on me and pulled on the sandwich–it ended up getting about half the meat! I watched the theif attempt the same trick with several others, none as successful as the attempt on me.
[After lunch, we went into the castle.] Even Nathan’s enthusiasm for castles was waning, such that he wanted to explore only about half of it. Just as we were about to leave, a Canadian choir started to practice in the middle of the castle–it was absolutely gorgeous, and having them echo offt he walls added an incredible quality. [Anne learned that the choir is Cantilon Choir, and that they were in Wales for a competition the next day, which they won. I spent a good bit of time taking video of them, with the intention of working the audio into my slideshow video of the trip. I really enjoyed hearing them at that point in our trip--travel weary though we were. They sang so beautifully, I got a little choked up at the time, and still feel incredibly lucky that we got to see them in Caernarfon Castle.]
After the castle, we found a beach a few miles away at Dinas Dinlle. It wasn’t as nice as Niwbwrch, but it was still fun to explore. Anne was really tickled to find hermit crabs in one pool.
We stopped for dinner at [the famous] Pete’s Eats (in Llanberis) which clearly catered to the hiking/rock climbing crowd. I felt just a little out of place wearing flip-flops while most other patrons were in hiking boots.
One note among the family–the trip has been so long that Edinburgh (for example) feels like a completely separate vacation. Looking back over those pictures, it really does feel like an age ago. I have pics from the vacation broken into eight different folders so far to keep them manageable: Travels, Edinburgh, Borders, London, Germany, England, South Wales and North Wales. Each of these alone would be an incredible trip. All together, it has become an epic journey. [To date, I've posted 242 pictures to Flickr and Facebook. I could probably post another 200.]
[Written 7/6] Travel day from Trefriw to Cricklade. Debbie, our host at Fairy Falls made us breakfast to order, then we headed toward Shrewsbury, birthplace of Charles Darwin and (we later learned) the film location for George C Scott version of A Christmas Carol. We ate lunch at the Cornwal Past Company. We explored a little bit of the ancient town and stopped in a book store where the kids and Anne picked out reading material [for the flight home].
Next we headed to Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds. The architecture was pretty cool but most of the shops closed at 5PM and most of the properties near the town center appeared to be holiday rentals. We did a Rick Steves walking tour despite being a bit worn out.
We drove toward Cricklade, but stopped for dinner at an Indian restaurant in Stowe-on-wold. Rick Steves had recommended it, and the food was very good. We arrived in Cricklade, dropped our bags in our room, and within minutes the kids and I headed to a local town playground [that we'd visited on our first trip through Cricklade]. Their favorite-a zip line that had a sudden stop at the end. I’m pretty sure nothing like that could ever exist in the states due to safety regulations. We played for 45 minutes then headed back to the room for a couple of showers and last minute planning for departure.