Next up for the travel content is sharing my day trip to Wales! Going to Wales was tentatively on my bucket list for abroad, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it happen once I actually arrived in Scotland. I was grateful that my parents were just as interested in visiting the country as I was, so we took a tour to North Wales from Manchester during our UK spring break extravaganza. I’m excited to share some of the pics with you today!
My mom booked the tour through a company called Busy Bus (exact tour here). We were in a 16-passenger van that had no toilets but did have overhead storage for bags/coats. Unlike me, my mom is tall, and her only complaint was that the van was a little squishy, with not much legroom. I really enjoyed our tour guide, and she shared lots of knowledgeable tidbits as we drove throughout North Wales. Fear not—the first part of the drive is quite ugly, as you’re just commuting on the freeway, but it gets much prettier the further into Wales you get. Overall, we had a great experience with this company! We also lucked out big time that the other passengers were (mostly) considerate, and everyone was on time returning to the bus after our stops.
Our first destination was Llandudno—I can assure you the pronunciation of this resort town is nothing like it’s spelled. I actually looked into studying abroad at Bangor University in Wales, and all I can say is that I would have had a very hard time trying to learn the language…
We didn’t spend a ton of time in Llandudno, but my mom and I walked along the wooden pier and enjoyed the views of the Irish Sea. We even made friends with a seal who was swimming very close to shore! Our tour guide told us that Lewis Carroll used to vacation here, staying with the Liddell family… Can you guess the daughter’s name? Alice, of course! The town has a bunch of statues dedicated to Alice in Wonderland throughout.
Our next stop was in Conwy to see the Conwy castle. While Wales doesn’t have the most castles, it does have the greatest ratio of castles to land. The cute town of Conwy has a wall built around it, which is how the English, who built the castle, kept the Welsh out. My mom and I decided to walk along most of the wall before exploring town below.
Conwy seemed to have lots of cute little bakeries and shops. My mom and I walked along the marina for a bit and the streets were busy with tourists. But beware! You have to keep your eyes peeled for the seagulls—they are like vultures and will snatch the food right out of your hands. I saw one ice cream shack with a sign that basically said, “No freebies if the seagull snatches your food.”
Our next stop was Snowdonia National Park, and I’m not being dramatic when I say it took my breath away. I’d like to think I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places, from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to more recent discoveries in Scotland like the Isle of Skye, but this place was without a doubt one of the most stunning views of Mother Nature I’ve ever seen. I could have stayed here for hours just taking in the scenery Of course, it helped that we lucked out with the weather—bright blue skies, green pastures, and snowcapped mountains. It was also lambing season, so there were the cutest lil’ baby sheep running around everywhere.
Legend has it that King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, rests on the floor of this lake. But apparently if you ask the villagers on the other side of Mt. Snowden, they claim that Excalibur is at the bottom of their lake. Who’s to know?
We saw several backpackers and even a few tents up here. I imagine it’s an amazing place to hike! However, I will say that driving up to this viewpoint on the very narrow single-track road, in a van that was clearly struggling to get up the hill, was a little unnerving. I can only imagine what it would have been like in the pouring rain.
We made a very quick stop in one other town before finishing our day at the Pontcysyllte Canal Aqueduct, built by Sir Thomas Telford in 1795. Our tour guide dropped us off at one end and picked us up on the other side (but you didn’t have to walk across it if you didn’t want to!). Our guide gave us several warnings that it’s a little intimidating for people who are afraid of heights.
Narrow little canal barges—that fit almost exactly in that water space—still use the aqueduct today. We had four feet on the righthand side to walk across. As our tour guide said, “If you’re going to fall, fall to your left into the water!”
Our guide told us that sometimes people refer to the aqueduct as “The River in the Sky” because on foggy mornings, it looks like boats are floating through the clouds. How cool is that?
Overall, we had a great time on this trip and really enjoyed all the beautiful sight-seeing. At one point our tour guide asked us what we thought Wales is most known for. My mom and I shouted out, “Tom Jones!” (I had “She’s a Lady” stuck in my head for the rest of the day) The correct answer was “castles”… but hey, at least we think we’re funny.
As always, thanks for stopping by the blog today. Hope you’re having a great Wednesday!
Miles of smiles,