From the end of September till December 2017, I studied abroad in the UK at the University of Warwick. At the end of my stay, I knew there was one thing I still wanted to do very very much, namely to visit Wales. So, when I saw a Black Friday sale on the Virgin trains website, I bought a return train ticket to Banger for 11 (!!) pounds. Two weeks later I hopped on the train to the north of Wales. It was a little cold, but it didn’t rain, so I guess the weather was great!
I got off the train at Llandudno Junction and walked approximately 15 minutes to Conwy Castle. During my walk, I had lovely views of the harbour at Conwy. Next, I entered the castle. Don’t expect elaborately furnished rooms with old furniture and beautiful ceilings, because you won’t find them here. Instead, Conwy Castle is a castle where you can explore every tower, every staircase and every little corner and imagine what life was like centuries ago. The signs were very informative and allowed me to learn something about the history of the place. They also helped me to visualise how the castle would have been when people still lived there.
Next, I ate my pre-packed lunch (no time (or money) for fancy restaurants this time) and set out to explore the rest of Conwy. Conwy is not a large town, but still it is not only its castle that’s worth visiting. You can walk over the fortification walls which give you amazing views over the city, the water, and the castle. Another tourist attraction is The smallest house in Great Britain. Not that special, to be honest, but still something you have to see when in Conwy.
The town you have to visit when in Wales
Then, I hopped on a bus to Bangor and changed to another bus to visit a town I had heard loads about, but had no idea that it was in North Wales (or to be more precise: on the island Anglesey). Of course, I’m talking about Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, a town with one of the largest place names in the world. However, besides the signs with the name of the village, there’s not much to do or see. So, I took a few pictures and hopped on the bus again, back to Bangor.
In Bangor, I walked to the pier. Unfortunately, it was just closing. Luckily, in front of the pier, the views were also quite nice. The sunset was a lovely pink and in the distance I could make out the snowy peaks of Snowdonia. However, I had to take one more bus to my sleeping address: the bus to Caernarfon. I had booked a hostel called Totters Independent Hostel, which I would certainly recommend! My room was of a decent size, the bathroom was clean, breakfast (which was included) was sufficient and the location perfect: the hostel is in the old centre of the town.
After breakfast, I checked out of my hostel and walked to the water (only 30 meters from the hostel). I crossed a bridge and then took the photo that is the featured image of this post. What a magnificent castle is Caernarfon Castle! But first, I had planned to visit something else: a Roman excavation. As a Classics’ student, I always try to visit the Greek and Roman remains if they are in the area. In Caernarfon, the Segontium Roman Fort can be found, which is free to visit. This fort was founded in the late 70s AD by Agricola. That term at university we were studying Tacitus’ Agricola in Latin. I found it very interesting to see ruins he had a connection with (although Agricola was not so nice for the native population..). In case you’re interested, this Penguin Classics edition is a good English translation of the work.
Next, I headed back to the castle. Built at the end of the 13th century, this castle was built at the same time as Conwy castle, when Edward I had invaded Wales. Caernarfon castle is also the place of the investiture of the Prince of Wales. The last time was in 1969 for the investiture of Prince Charles. Like Conwy castle, Caernarfon castle is a castle where you can explore every corner, tower, and the walls. Take the time to admire the view from every tower: the Menai Strait at one side, the city of Caernarfon and Snowdonia on the other side.
After exploring the castle, I took the bus back to Bangor. In Bangor, walked around for a bit, but didn’t have enough time to explore it properly. The impression I got was that of a small but lively student city. When I’ll visit Wales for a second time, I’ll return to Bangor! I took the train back home.
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