Thursday, October 15, 2009

London Calling: Day Five

We checked out of our hotel in Bristol and headed west and north into Wales. I never knew that Wales is an independent country that is part of the UK. They have their own separate schools where everyone learns in both English and Welsh and they are fiercely patriotic. There are flags of Wales everywhere! I got the boys some Welsh souvenirs because the red dragon of Wales was really cool.

As we were driving I saw this manor house on a hill above the road.

As we drove further into Wales, we saw this over the trees off the side of the road. Is that a Castle?

Raglan castle was just off the main road and only cost 3pounds to tour. Score! Raglan's moat complete with waterlily's and coots.

These are some of the iron cannon balls that were used to bring down the walls of the castle in 1640. The eight foot deep rock walls broke the iron. It took three months for the castle to fall. Oooooh, impressive!

All of the fireplaces were massive. The one for the main kitchen was around 5-6 feet tall and 8-10 feet wide. The mantels that were still in the walls were all different designs. The last one looks like it may have been the main bedroom or some official room since it was more ornate than the others.

I just loved this sign. It either means "Watch your head", "I can't see that far away" or "Migraine!"

View from the back courtyard.

Floor of the great tower.

I took a deep breath and climbed the steep stone steps up the great tower. The stairs were sturdy, but you could see light between some of them which was really unnerving. Spiraling up so fast didn't help either. With a final burst of bravery I arrived at the top of the tower, snapped this picture took a deep breath and ran back down the stairs. LOL! I'm so brave.

By the restrooms there was a graveyard of pieces of the castle that have fallen off.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip. I LOVED Raglan Castle!!

As we left to explore further west and north there were so many picturesque spots, but I had to ask to stop for this one. This old castle is being used as storage for this farm. It's just there. Not a sign or an historic marker, it is just part of the livestock's daily view.

This was another must stop photo-op: The Griffin Inn!

There was a mini Stonehenge in the middle of this playground. What the fluff?

As we drove through this town I noticed the mountain side had something carve into it...

a fortress!

As the rain started to clear we saw the prettiest rainbow.

It was so big and bright that after a few minutes we could see the entire "bow" and then a double bow!

The town square in Caernarfon.

Chapel and Welsh Dragon in the town square.

Masonic Church

Caernarfon Castle was closed when we got there. I was bummed. We had missed it by just a few minutes. Sigh. I got some shots of the outside anyway.

The public restrooms were interesting. There were these boxes in the back of every stall. I'm betting there aren't THAT many diabetics in Wales.

The Welsh country side reminded me of the Smokey Mountains. They were more rocky with large patches of browned shrubs and there were sheep on most of them. Jen described it as EPIC and I can't come up with a better word for it. I kept expecting to see someone from Middle-Earth running across the mountains.

This is not my picture. Mine didn't turn out, but Welsh sheep are crazy. They would get standing in spots up the side of mountains that there was no way to get to. Simon rightly called them Matrix Sheep.

About that time I started getting car sick and Dramamine knocked both Jen and I out for a while...

When I woke up it was getting dark and we were stopping at Conwy Falls Cafe for pizza. It had been two years since I had had pizza. I wasn't sure how this was going to work, but I was willing to give it a try. Turns out they had had people ask for pizza without cheese before and knew how to handle it. Thrilled, I ordered no cheese, chicken and honey roasted peppers. My Curiosity Cola was... curious. It tasted a bit like carbonated bubble gum.

Jen's Pizza:

Simon's Pizza:

My Pizza:

Cheese-less pizza is SOOOOOO good!

The dining area was cozy and warm with an adobe style fire place and two love seats in the center of the tables. There was a calico cat that wandered around looking out the windows. He was a bit nervous as there was a toddler there that REALLY wanted to pet him. :o)

I fell back asleep in the car and woke up as we neared London. Poor Simon had driven until after midnight to get us home. We went to bed with the understanding that the next day we were laying low. We were all beat!

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