Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wales at Last

I'm done putting it off. It's time to talk about Wales. Wales (Cymru in Welsh which I think is pronounced something like "kim-ree": what a neat language) is, as most people know, part of Great Britain. Basic location: west of England. I was only in Wales for a few days but found it a beautiful and interesting place I'd love to explore further. However, my main interest in Wales has been in its architecture. Specifically, castles.
Wales is a country of castles with many existing in various states (some are still lived in while others are ruins). With limited time and transportation, I was only able to visit one Welsh castle: Conwy Castle, found in the town of (guess!) Conwy.

Conwy Castle was one of several castles built by (or rather, for) King Edward I. It's a massive structure and much of the castle is open to the elements though some "rooms" remain. Although it's well preserved, the castle seems to have survived years of gentle decaying; moss and plants grow in cracks in the stone, helping the castle seem like an impressive feature of the landscape. Like any good castle, Conwy has many towers that can be climbed.

They offer views of the nearby landscape out to the sea as well as the castle and town of Conwy.

(Not the greatest picture I know, but it is what I'm trying to show.)

Like many European towns, Conwy is walled. The walls are there for the walking; it's an interesting way to see a town for sure. My time on the walls was mostly limited to the area near/entrance to the castle itself. Still, an enjoyable walk.

Initially, I actually approached the castle from across a river, the River Conwy actually. Although the town has a train station, few trains stop there and I think it's necessary to tell a train worker if that's where you want to get off. For simplicity's sake, I walked from Llandudno Junction (I think) which is just across the river. The extra exercise was worth it: the castle lay directly across the Conwy Suspension Bridge, appearing as an imposing feature of the town.

I was there in late April and the blue sky, green grass, and gray (or should I say grey?) stone complemented each other to form a vibrant picture that remains a vivid memory.

Exploring a castle is always a fun activity. Personally, I really enjoy the ruined ones--you might find a stairway leading nowhere or a passage opening into a cavernous (if roofless) room. Definitely an adventure.

Coming soon: Yosemite if I ever get a slide scanner, BSC in the USA (same condition), otherwise hmm, maybe a post about NYC again. Or maybe not.