Monday, 13 January 2014

Winter Break: Wales

I made it back home safe and sounds to Notts, and right now I am currently sitting with my liter of Kentish cider and finally relaxing, since I just finished my first exam a couple hours ago. I have so much to catch up on! I had an amazing month of traveling and exploring the country I love most:

            “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”
                                    -William Shakespeare, Richard II

I’ll try to divide up my posts so that I don’t have to stress about trying to write one big one, so if you didn’t catch it this one will be about the first few days of my break in Wales.

December 13: I left Friday evening to get to Cardiff. As the man on his cellphone next to me succinctly put it “Crosscountry trains is fucking me in the ass.” I had 3 connections, and thanks to delayed trains I managed to miss every connection. I ended up getting to Cardiff at midnight, instead of 9:30pm. I was not amused.

December 14: I took a couple trains to get to Pembroke and see Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry VII. I was, quite literally, the only person there in the entire castle complex (besides the woman working at the cafĂ©) and it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. Pembroke is so old and you can climb all the towers and go into rooms and run around ramparts and that’s exactly what I did. I also went into this super creepy cavern, and I was totally alone and starting to get really freaked out so I talked to myself/some pigeons to pretend I wasn’t alone, and then left. The weather got really bad and it was pouring by the time I left, but it was definitely worth the trip.

My brotha from anotha motha Peter met me in Cardiff and hung out with me the rest of my time in Wales. It was so much fun traveling with him! We went out and then got kebabs at midnight to end our only real night in Cardiff.

Dec. 15: Peter and I hung out in Cardiff, I went to Cardiff Castle and had a blast. Peter did something else that I don’t care about, since I was at a castle. We wandered around Christmas markets, watched people fall at an ice skating rink at a carnival, and walked through some nice parks. It started raining and we were getting wet so we decided to pack up and took the next train to Abergavenny. Abergavenny is a super quaint, cute little town. It was Sunday and most everything was closed (Tesco closed at 4pm), but we got pizza and then ate in our hostel that doubled as a B&B that was a pub downstairs. It was a super awesome place, and the people who worked there were so nice. They specially bought us milk for our morning cereal! It was so sweet.

Dec. 16: Adventure time! Destination: Penderyn Distillery, the home of Welsh whisky. We took two trains to a little place called Aberdare, and wandered around the village and the market before catching our bus to Penderyn, an even smaller village, in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It was a really pretty area and we had a nice walk in the woods before getting to the distillery. The distillery tour was amazing! The Penderyn Distillery started up in 2004 after a nearly 100-year absence of whisky distilling in Wales. The tour was really informative and the whisky was delicious. We headed back to Abergavenny and got kebabs and hung out in the pub downstairs in our place with one of the regular’s bulldog.

Dec. 17: Peter headed out in the morning to get back to London before going to Romania, and I spent the day exploring Abergavenny. Finally, FINALLY, it wasn’t raining!!! It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. I saw the ruins of Abergavenny Castle, St. Mary’s Priory (the old/famous church there), and went on a walk by the river. It was so nice to just enjoy the sunshine and relish such good weather! That evening I got back on a train and headed to Holyhead, where I spent the night in a lovely B&B (in my own single room, with my own bathroom, with my own TV, and with my own luxurious shower!). The next day I headed for Dublin on the ferry to meet up with my family!

Verdict: Wales was amazing, I love Welsh whisky, and exploring small villages is wonderful, especially when it’s not raining. For the record, Arriva Trains Wales is spectacular and not a single train I took was delayed.

Score so far:
            Castles: 3
            Cathedrals/famous religious places: 1

part of the walls of Pembroke Castle
Penderyn Distillery
Finally saw the sun in Abergavenny!

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