Sunday (Aug. 1) was fairly normal and uneventful. Church, nap, hung out with my friends, and then a program meeting to prepare for the coming WHIRLWIND of a week.
Monday (Aug. 2) we hit the road. Tom being gone we left around 9 am, instead of our usual 7 or 8, so that was quite welcome. The entire week was to be spent traveling the north, beginning with the "real" Wales - Aberystwyth. Cardiff may be the capital, but that is only because of the historical importance of the port, and the southern location. If there were a "Welsh" capital of Wales, it would probably be Aberystwyth or somewhere near there in North Wales. Aberystwyth is a pretty cool coastal town, but we spent very little time there.
First me and my friends went into the National Library of Wales (of course I went to a library), which is like the mecca of all things Welsh. It made me miss my office and my LAO peeps like crazy. This library, while not as cool as the HBLL, was legit. They have a manuscript of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, an original copy of a letter from Owain Glyn Dwr, and a fantastic art gallery featuring a Picasso and some Durer engravings. I loved it.
We didn't have time to check out the castle, but we did walk through downtown and along the pier for lunch, which was really pretty.
Climbing back into the van, everyone was in great spirits, I was DJ Danica in the front seat while running the
GPS, and we partied on the long van rides all day long. (This is my teddy bear, Tegwyn. Never really had a teddy bear before, but I got this little guy, and yes, I've been sleeping with him.)
Harlech Castle. Loved it. Built as part of the Iron Ring of Edward Longshanks (I), its position on the coast was once strategic, and now is picturesque. This is one of my most favorite views I've encountered. It was just stunning. And the fact that I had to hike up a steep and winding road and STILL enjoyed my experience at the castle is huge. The experience was enhanced by a couple scoops of Belgian chocolate ice cream as we headed back down the hill to the vans.
After plenty of directional crises and tight squeezes on the narrow north country roads, we made it to our final destination for the day - Conwy. This coastal town is structured around the castle, which is also really, REALLY cool, and the huge city wall still stands and runs throughout. More will be said about this in the next post, because we visited Conwy on Tuesday. Our hostel was pretty cool. We had a great view, and the common dining area had the best view. We hung out in there a lot. Our room (Me, Jessica, Gillian and Sam) had a bathroom and shower, which was convenient, but also made it kind of smell. And it was MOTH CENTRAL. We seriously killed over 20 moths in our 3 days there. And my duvet situation was less than desirable.
Tesco run for baguettes and hummus (yesssssss). Dinner with everyone in the awesome mess hall. Finally, we decided to watch Jurassic Park, which I have on my laptop, because we'd been quoting it like crazy and several people hadn't seen it. We commandeered the entertainment room, clustered together in front of my laptop, and laughed like crazy.
My hair is super straight so I haven't been blow-drying it at all, and I can sleep on it wet, no problem, so I volunteered to shower before bed so that it wouldn't be such a traffic jam in the morning. The shower was really narrow, probably about 3x3', and weird to get into. I turned it on and WHAMMMM! I was being blasted with the craziest water pressure I've ever felt, EVER. It was like a fire hose. And COLD. My whole system froze up (ha) and I was freaking out for a second before I could turn it off. I stood there, almost collapsing to the floor of the shower, laughing so hard and panting like crazy. My roommates were laughing and knocking on the door asking what was going on and if I was ok. I explained the oddity of the crazy instant water pressure, and my inability to move out of the direct stream due to the small volume of the shower and the freezing cold.
You have to understand - water pressure we'd experienced there had generally been really weak, and often the showerhead would cut out or reduce to a drip. This was completely unprecedented. Soon I learned that you have to instantly turn the dial all the way to 6 or it's cold, and it doesn't drain fast enough, so you are repeatedly turning it on and off during the shower. Violent, yes. But efficient and quick? Absolutely.