Wales III: Caernarfon and Portmeirion

This past weekend, we did a quick 24 hour trip to northern Wales.  This marks our third trip to Wales.  We got a good deal on Travelzoo which included dinner, wine, accommodation, breakfast, and tickets to Caernarfon Castle all for around 69 GBP.  So after work on Friday, we headed for Welsh country.

Route to Wales

Route to Wales.  A little under 3 hours

The hotel was pretty cool.  It was located in Llanberis Pass, which is the location of the train that can take you to the top of Snowdon mountain if you aren’t able (or man enough) to make it up there on foot.  We nearly made it to the top a few months back, but had to turn back with 30 minutes left due to icy conditions and a heavy snowstorm.

Nice Old Hotel

Nice Old Hotel

Shortly after arrival, we sat down to our complementary dinner.  The hotel had a nice dining room with a great view.  The food wasn’t too bad either.  Lamb for me, chicken for Tara.  After that, we headed to bed.  After a long work week and a drive to Wales, we were pooped.

Llanberis Pass

Llanberis Pass

The next morning we quickly checked out the train station that takes you to the top of Snowdon.

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No thank you

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Ominous clouds in the background reminding you it’s a smarter idea to take the train

The next stop was Caernarfon Castle.  This was the biggest and most intact medieval castle that we have seen so far in the UK.  Caernarfon was also where Prince Charles was “investitured”.  That basically means that the Queen gave him a robe and a sword and made him say an oath about how he is devoted to the people of Wales as a prince.

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Watch out! Dangerous tower steps

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Tara’s artsy pic

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“Investiture” Platform

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Spooky Hallway

This castle was one of a series of castles built by the English to subdue the Welsh in the 13th and 14th century.  There were something like 10 castles, all within a days march that surrounded northern Wales.  Conwy, is one of these.  There were a few attempts to sack this castle, but none of them were successful.  The castle itself was the main deterrent to uprisings.  At one point, 28 men inside the castle were enough to defeat an invading army.  I forget which army, but I thought that was a pretty impressive stat.

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After a quick pitstop at the Thai food street vendor, we headed for our next destination: Portmeirion.

This was actually really great Thai Food

This was actually really great Thai Food

Portmeirion was built between 1925 and 1975 as an architect’s playground.  Sir Clough Ellis had a thing for unique looking buildings and decided to make his own village.  He started with a hotel by the sea and kept expanding.  This was a really unique village.  Tara and I must have really mature tastes because we were the youngest people there by a good 20 years.  The elderly people were really digging this village, and so were we.

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Photo credit goes to Tara

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Beachside stroll

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Just enjoying the train for the elderly. When in Rome right?

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The water was nice and foamy.

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Good view from the overlook

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The village itself wasn’t all that big.  You could walk through it in 10 minutes or so, but there were tons of cool vantage points to scope out all of the cool architecture, as you can see from the photos.  Since we’ve been in England, Tara has really gotten into all things tea related.  She likes tea pots, tea cups, tea trays, tea parties, fruit tea, English tea, afternoon tea, post tennis tea, and even chari-tea shops (yes those are real things).  We decided to have a “proper” afternoon tea by the old hotel at the bottom of the village.  Tara was loving it.

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“Proper” afternoon tea. You can see my beer off to the right. I prefer beer given the option

I have learned that “proper” afternoon tea consists of scones, clotted cream, jam, more than 1 type of small sandwich, a few cakes, tea, sugar, and milk.  That would be a ton of work if you set out to make all that yourself.

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Everything that comes with a proper afternoon tea

After tea, we were getting late into the afternoon so we decided to head home.  Since we traveled to the middle part of northern Wales, the route home took us right through the middle of Snowdon National Park.  The roads were tiny and there were sheep everywhere.  At one point, I think we passed through the highest village in Wales.  The drive was pretty interesting and Tara did a great job with the tiny roads and sheep obstacles.  Check out these sheep on the run.

That’s it for our 24 hours in Wales.  As they say in Welsh, “hwyl fawr. gweld chi yn nes ymlaen”.  That translates to goodbye, see you later.
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