(Pre-) Scotland Day #1: Wales

September 4, 2014 § 4 Comments

Welcome back, world!  In the last 2.5 weeks, I left Italy to go to Scotland, Wales, and England… then returned to Italy to repack, and now I am sitting at my new desk in Austin, TX.  What a whirlwind!  Before I plunge into a photographic recollection of Mr. Italian and my travels, I would just like to say that this was the most beautiful trip of my life… as proven by the 2,000 photos that I clicked away in ten days. So, be patient as I edit them daily! (especially since my innocent hop to Venice ended with my wrist in a cast… but that’s fastforwarding, shhh!)

With two RyanAir-approved backpacks and a road atlas, Mr. Italian and I flew out of Treviso and landed at 11:30 PM at the (oh-so-charming) East Midlands Airport.  I forgot how intense the entrance procedure is into the UK… almost like flying to America, with all of the passport machines and whatnot (and yet we managed to sneak in a mini box of prunes).  We rented a car for the eleven days that we were there- next time, we definitely need to make sure that it is a diesel vehicle.  It makes a difference when you drive 2,000 miles.

After (or, I guess, while) figuring out how to drive on the wrong side of the road, Mr. Italian and I headed east, out of England.  We planned to tackle Scotland, but I wanted a day in Wales before heading north.  So, that’s what we did.  Let me tell you: driving through tiny country roads at 1 in the morning is the perfect way to enter Wales.  It was enchanting; a tunnel of trees, and no lights whatsoever.  The entire time I was expecting something from Where The Wild Things Are to pop out of the shrubbery.  Or, a Knight of Ni.  Or a Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar.  Or, all three of them at the same time.

After hiding in some deserted parking lot, the new dawn greeted us with a light drizzle and a rainbow: the first rainbow in what turned out to be a Rainbow-A-Day.

Wales

Breakfast consisted of a few packages of chocolate digestives, and then we continued eastward.  The view had us gaping, open-mouthed the entire time.  So much greenery, everywhere!

DrivingByWales1

And quaint huts randomly scattered about:

WalesHut

And walking paths at practically every corner.  That’s my mission for next year: walk all of Wales.

Wales2
All of the towns that we drove through were irresistibly quaint, with colorful flags hanging between all of the building and flowers so bright, they seemed to be painted with neon highlighters.

WalesTrainStation
We also drove through this little gem:

WalesLlanfair

, which had stores like this one (time to learn Welsh!):

WalesStoreName

And, just as we were getting desperate with our grumbling tummies and lack of ATM’s, we found The Red Squirrel Cafe in Newborough:

WalesRedSquirrelCafe2

, which served us our first (and only) ‘Scottish breakfast’ (mmmmh, black pudding and sweet beans!):

WalesRedSquirrelCafe3

With bellies warm, we took a stroll to a church, which took us through anti-vicious rams and charming snail fences:

Our destination point for the first day was Anglesey.  Or, rather, Holy Island (to start our trend of islands). Even more accurately, the South Stack Lighthouse, at the edge of Holy Island (to start our trend of lighthouses):

WalesSouthStack
I am going to put up a full photo gallery at the end of these blog series, but, for now, just a glimpse of how surreal this place was:

 

It was exactly what I was searching for this trip: wind and high cliffs and waves and lighthouses.  This was also the first time that we were met with a typical UK Tourist Trap: imposing a hidden entrance fee to the actual monument AFTER hundreds of stairs, so that you are too exhausted with the physical investment to refuse (we did though):

WalesSouthStackGate
After a pre-sunset at the lighthouse, we headed back to Holyhead to check out the harbour:

WalesHolyhead

We also attempted to get a cup of something warm to drink and to find a bank to raid…  however, everything was already closed at 5 PM, so, instead, we pulled our pennies together and bought some snacks at the only real grocery store on the island.  Which turned out to be a great move, because how often do you have a scrumptious picnic in this setting?

WalesHolyheadPicnic
Thoroughly wind-lashed and satisfied in every way, we jumped into the car for the last time to check into our first Airbnb.  It was a nice house in the middle of the countryside, but not at all worthy of comparison to the rest of our UK accomodations, so I will just show off this cool window:

WalesBB

Who would think that a scolding shower would be so enjoyable in the middle of August?  This is my kind of summer; jackets and scarves and pants and raincoats and three pairs of socks : )

 

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