Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crossing the Border

"He either said 'Go to the back of the throat' or 'I want a root beer float!'" Dory had it right. The language of Wales is definitely hard to understand. That was probably the first thing I noticed when I got there and saw all of the crazy Welsh signs. They have a major shortage of vowels. That was the first of many differences I had fun noticing during our 3 days in the country. The people, the language, and just the whole feeling of it was such a change from London. Our first stop was a sort of museum of a Celtic Village. It was made to feel the same way it felt hundreds of years ago, and we spent a couple hours just walking around and exploring. There were some huge cows there. And a huge castle. It was a very serene place, I'm still having a hard time processing just how old things are here. After the village we started our drive through Wales. We drove, and drove, and drove. And drove. At least there were hundreds of sheep that look exactly the same to make the drive less boring. Ok, actually they didn't help very much with that, but the scenery definitely did. I saw mountains! Not exactly my Utah mountains, but they deserved to be more than hills and they had snow on them -- beautiful. We stopped at Castle Coch and toured all of the refurnished rooms. I found a room for kids where you could learn how to color a picture like the tiles all over the castle walls. Yes, I colored two of them. Tony finally pulled up to our home for the night in Cardiff -- my first hostel. It was a little weird, I'm not gonna lie. The people were so friendly, though. That was true for every place we stopped at in Wales; I loved talking to cab drivers and shop workers and all the people with great accents that have lived there all their lives.
The next day had just as much driving, maybe more, but sometimes that's my favorite part. We went to the Island of Anglesey in North Wales to tour a castle and spend the night at an old and super interesting hotel. Beaumaris Castle was one of my favorite sites so far -- we found the stone chapel and my professors (both are former members of the tabernacle choir) started leading us in singing hymns. The sound carried all through the castle, and girl after girl started finding us and coming inside. Soon almost everyone was there, singing each girl's favorite hymn. Tourists from other groups stopped to listen, and all of us felt something there that's hard to explain. By the time we had to leave we realized we didn't explore the castle very much at all, but no one regretted it. That night we stayed at a beautiful hotel, with way cute owners. They were so excited to have us there, and took us on a tour of Beaumaris that night (even though everything in that little town closed at 5:30). Definitely a big change from the hostel. Janna and I woke up early to walk along the semi-ocean and see more of the town before leaving. Our next stop was Chester, such a cute town! Definitely the friendliest Europeans so far. One more cathedral, one more abbey, then one more long drive and we were back to the good old London Centre. I loved being able to visit Wales for as long as we did, and I loved touring places where my dad served his mission. I'm already looking forward to the night when he gets out his well-used atlas and traces out my trip with me, and it's safe to say that oreos and milk will be involved :)

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