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Monday, June 7, 2010

I've a Wales of a tale to tell ya, lads

Friday, June 4, 2010

Today began with a long bus drive to….WALES! Woohoo! A different country! All the road signs and building signs and such in Wales are written in both Welsh and English. I think they told us that about 60% of the population still speaks fluent Welsh. Welsh is the weirdest written language – I swear they just throw in a bunch of random letters. Trudndgleth, Blagnfndhyth, etc. (see warning sign picture)

No joke, that’s how the names of all the towns looked. I loved it. Our first stop in Wales was at Beaumaris castle, built by Edward I to show the Welsh how tough he was. It’s considered the most perfectly constructed castle ever – it’s two concentric circles.

There’s a moat, then a tick outer wall with slits for archers, then some green, then an inner wall with more archer slits. It’s kinda hard to explain without pictures. All that is needed to be known is that it was practically impenetrable, and it was built in just a few short years (different than many other castles that grow up over hundreds of years). I loved this castle. We were the only one there, so we were running all over the place. My friend Jess and I reenacted a scene from Labyrinth and a scene from Phantom of the Opera – the Phantom one is best for sure. And then we reenacted a scene from Monty Python. It was the scene with the French guy and the castle and the inquiry about the Holy Grail. That one was fun too. We climbed around the walls and turrets for a while, and then we left.

On the way out, we saw that there was a playground outside of the castle. I am assured that it is, in fact, original and the place where the knights would drop off their kids while they fought the enemy. We got back on the bus to find that Zoltan had bought us all donuts! He is the coolest bus driver in the world!

After Beaumaris we went to Caernarfon. This is the castle where the Prince of Wales is crowned to this day. It’s a much prettier façade of a castle that Beaumaris. We climbed all through this one too – up through the towers and all around the walls. This castle was not quite as impenetrable as the other. I think it was captured and recaptured 3 times. But it was still impressive and massive. I bought myself a tiny green pet dragon names Dewi here. After exploring the castle we got lunch in the town just outside the castle. We were sitting in the town square, eating our subway, when out of nowhere a large something swooped down and knocked my sandwich out of my hand. It was a seagull! A massive, angry seagull! And it didn’t go after my sandwich once it had knocked it down. No, it just sat there and stared at me, like “What now, girl?” Luckily my sandwich had landed bread down, so I picked it up and ate it. I’m still alive so it must have been okay. But that bird just sat watching me eat it. We ended up leaving because the bird was so weird. Crazy, scary bird! I was laughing so hard throughout the whole thing, though. It was definitely worth the story to be attacked by a seagull for my sandwich.

We spent the next three hours on the hot smelly bus before we got to Coventry to look at the cathedral and take a food break. There were the ruins of the old cathedral next to a new modern cathedral. The modern cathedral was not attractive in my mind. Not at all. And it had this weird statue on the outside of Michael triumphing over Satan that kind of frightened me…I definitely prefer older, more traditional cathedrals. After the cathedrals we were back on the road for London. We all chipped in and gave Zoltan season 1 of Scrubs (he likes American sitcoms) for being so nice to us. He was awesome. We arrived home and played football (fooooootball – you know, with a soccer ball) until it got too dark, during which I proceeded to slip on the grass and hit my tailbone twice…walking home was a bit hard…I was so exhausted after this trip, but it was so good to get outside and play after sitting in a stinky bus all week. I love Hyde Park. Three amazing locations – Lake District, Liverpool, and Wales. Three amazing days!

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