Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wales: Day 31 The Iron(woman) Ring

Well. This was almost two months ago. Tuesday, August 3, 2010. I'm lame. Sorry.

We enjoyed another awesome English breakfast, then returned to our room for some eavesdropping. When the girls next to us chat and gossip while both windows are open, the acoustics are FANTASTIC. We could literally hear everything. Our moths swam in the gossip pouring through the windows, as we sat hunched over on our beds, trying desperately not to laugh out loud (LOL) and give ourselves away.

After massaging our aching ribs, we headed down to Conwy Castle, the main feature of the town.

It's one of the biggest of Edward Longshanks castles, and the huge city wall is largely intact.

I loved this one because it was right on the coast, therefore reminding me of Prince Eric's castle in "The Little Mermaid."

After the misty castle, we walked down to Plas Mawr, a Tudor Age manor home. It's huge and crazy expensive. Really cool for us to see the type of living situation that existed then.

Coming back to the vans, we were dismayed to find that some Nazi had ticketed us! Apparently Anders did not park "responsibly." Does he ever?

Caernarvon is one of the most popular and busiest castles in the UK. It's really big, and beautiful. It was Longshank's main Welsh castle. It probably ranks #3 behind Harlech and Raglan as my favorite castle.

Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales here by the Queen in 1958. He and Princess Diana received a lot of publicity and attention because they were more warm and friendly, and the Welsh people accepted them as their own. And really, who didn't love Princess Diana?
The courtyard is really cool. The big slate circle is where the coronation took place. The view from the towers is awesome, and I'd say if I were to play Kings and Queens, or Knights and what-have-you, I'd choose Caernarfon. Tons of towers, spiral staircases, long stone corridors, hidden dark tunnels, and a huge open courtyard for fencing, jousting, fun things.

There was an awesome British Military History Museum in the south end of the castle. No one wanted to check it so I went through it alone, and it was incredible. I usually don't love military history stuff, but they had some of the nicest exhibits I've ever seen. Alas, no flash photography. Trust me that it was cool. We hung out in the courtyard and got some ice cream (Yeah they were selling ice cream in a castle. Can you say best of both worlds?) and purchased beautiful postcards. Good castle experience.

Off to Beaumaris, "Beautiful Marsh," allegedly the Longshank's favorite castle.

This castle is pretty small, but has an awesome central courtyard. It's basically a huge, well-groomed soccer field. Naturally we did all kinds of fun, athletic activities for an hour or so.

Unfortunately, I'm an IDIOT, and decided to do a front handspring. I had successfully executed some cartwheels, roundoffs, backbends, etc., and I was certain that my background as a gymnast would allow me to continue this trend with a front handspring, even if I hadn't done one in quite a while.


I landed fine, but I hadn't thrown my momentum forward enough on the plant, so my hamstrings kicked in to stabilize me. Had I stretched prior to these antics? No. Did this pull my hamstring and send an intense burn through the back of my leg that didn't go away for 2 days? Yes. Yes it did.

Whatever. Anyways. Anders and I had been playing this game where we stuck this yellow sticker on people's backs, hoods and bags to see how long they'd stay before they found it. Wanting to take it to the next level, I enlisted Zoe's sneakiness and sisterly status (alliteration much?) to beat Anders at his own game. Victory.

Then we were off to the isle of Anglesey and the little town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Yep. It's the longest name of a place anywhere in the UK and one of the longest in the world. 58 letters. I couldn't even get them all in the photo and still be able to read it. Yikes. We got our passports and journals stamped there, and hung out taking pictures at the train station for a bit. Very touristy.

Bryn Celli Ddu is a a barrow/burial tomb very close to LLanfairpwll (short name for the crazy long name), so we detoured there quickly.

Umbeth graced us with sheep impressions/communications (sheep are EVERYWHERE), and we had a great time singing songs and sliding down the hill.

Of course we did a Tesco run. Tonight it was blueberries, pita bread and hummus, and chocolate cheesecake cups. These Welsh folk know their desserts. We all eat our meals down in the cafeteria and always get weird looks from the other residents. Me, Jessica, Gillian and Sam then did the Coke/Pepsi Challenge.

I nailed it 3/3. No big deal. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. Not with all the diet soda I drink. Danica's addiction to Diet Coke is an ongoing joke, so everyone was LOVING this.

After dinner we went up into the Observatory to write in our journals and study. This weird college kid in short shorts came up and started talking to us and the minute he sat down we were punched in the face by his BO. It was soooooooo groooooooooosssssss. Soon after, Mr. Clown arrived. Mr. Clown was a smiley, gap-toothed man in a plum corduroy blazer and a plaid bowtie. He had what I like to call "Mad Scientist Hair," and a video camera. He looked like he wanted to talk to us, but was too timid. He went out on the balcony and proceeded to videotape the countryside while reading poetry aloud.

This is the Wales 2010 Study Abroad. This is a fairly representative day. Tons of castles, a Tesco run, pyramid-building, Danica doing something stupid and hurting herself, and interactions with some of the weirdest people on earth. I love it.

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