Chirk Castle

Chirk was my last Welsh castle, and I have to say I’m loving the alliteration. On our way back from Cardiff, we passed Chirk, which rung a bell in Edward, and he looked up if there was national trust property and there was, and that property was a castle. So us weirdos sharing a love for old castles, and being bored of the area we were in took a day trip to Chirk. Which was only around an hour and half away, maybe 2 hours.

It also had these beautiful gardens which we walked around for a bit. The English really do know their gardens.

On the way back to the train I saw this.

Bah bah black sheep.

Castle Count: 16

Cathedral Count: 15

Cardiff

I couldn’t exactly be in Wales for 6 months and not go to the capital! Leanna and I went to Cardiff, with two other friends of Mine tagging along; Edward, and Abbie.

The first day there we walked around, went to a cute little tea shop we found, and went to the Castle (yes another castle and it’s not the last.)

Just some queens in front of our castle.

Leanna and I got into a bit of trouble and had to be put in time out. But after there was time out, there was tea.

We went to bed fairly early, because we had to wake up early for a busy next day! We all (except Edward) being the dorks that we are decided to go to the Dr. Who museum. It was amazing.

We had a chance to “fly” the Tardis, and then there was a museum filled with props from the set. Took on the Daleks too.

 

Exterminate.

Unfortunately I was sick, and had no voice, so I wasn’t feeling very good. So that night after dinner, we went out for few drinks, Edward and I went back to the Airbnb, and Leanna and Abbie stayed out and partied for a bit.

Castle Count: 15

Cathedral Count: 15

Caernarfon Castle

Another day another Castle right?

For Leanna’s last adventure we did a day trip to another Castle. Caernarfon is traditionally where the prince of Wales is investitured(? I’m sure that’s the right word.) However it has a complicated history, and for hundreds of years the Prince of Wales was not investitured, in 1911 who would be Edward VIII had his ceremony there, and in 1969,  Prince Charles had his ceremony there (notice the gap.)

The steps to climb were horrible but the view was worth it. In case anyone didn’t know, I hate heights.

 

 

Castle Count: 14

Cathedral Count: 15

Dublin

Do I really travel somewhere unless I travel to a castle? The answer is no, and in Ireland of course I made it to a castle! While in Dublin we stayed in this lovely airbnb which was in Malahide, which was a near a  ‘haunted’ castle. I saw no ghosts.

Easter break

Dublin

Dublin

Easter break

We decided to take a hop on hop off bus the next day, because it was Good Friday so a lot of places weren’t open.

Easter break

Dublin

Easter break

 

However we did make it to Dublin castle.

Dublin

Look at all the umbrellas! But no rain! Silly Dublin.

 

Finally we ended the tour the last day where we made it to the Guinness factory for a cheeky pint.

Dublin

Easter break

 

Needless to say by the end of this trip (coming right on the heels of Italy) I was quite tired, and wanted a nap. There were two Cathedrals we saw in Dublin but alas because it was Good Friday we didn’t go in to look around, which brings the count to a tie!

Castle Count: 13

Cathedral Count: 14

 

Lago Di Garda

“I’d pay five euro for a water castle,” Richelle said.

“Yeah I’d pay a fiver,” I replied.

Milan

This was the conversation Friday night before we walked two hours to a water castle. The term ‘fiver’ drives Richelle crazy, but it’s ok she made me walk 2 hours to get to a castle. I should start from the beginning though so it makes sense how it came to be.

Milan

We took two trains to Lago Di Garda (Lake Garda), which is the largest lake in Italy and was formed by glaciers around the last ice age (so kind of like the great lakes except great lake singular). In town of Sirmione, lays a medieval Scaliger castle, which dates back to the 13th century.

Milan

 

It’s situated on the water and picturesque in every way possible. It was beautiful, and a little chilly and beside it sat a town. We’ll get to that part later—we got off the trains and right there was a bus stop to the castle, however Richelle wasn’t positive that it was the right bus soooo we missed it, and ended up walking over two hours.

Milan

At one point I got cranky and my feet started to hurt, and blisters could be felt forming, and we went for Gelato, which I have to say once you have Gelato in Italy you’ll never want to have it anywhere else again. We found a bus stop, and decided to keep walking, found another two hours later and stopped. It was a fiver for the castle for non EU citizens, however I argued that I go to University in the UK, and Richelle goes to University in Italy, so we got the discounted price.

Like I’ve said the castle was wonderful, and the town surrounding it, although touristy, was quaint and wonderful. Me being me, of course found this little medevial chapel and decided to go inside say a prayer, and take some pictures.

Milan

Needless to say I slept like a baby that night.

Castle Count: 12

Cathedral Count: 7

Edinburgh

I love the Scottish accent there I said it. I think it’s wonderful, and just as I adjusted to the other British accents I heard, being in Scotland required a certain turning of the ear when listening to the natives. However apparently Edinburgh is considered the “posh” area of Scotland so the accents there for the most part were very easy.

Scotland

Anna being Anna, and me being me, just happened to drag ourselves to the Scottish Museum. It was big and interesting and not at all what I expected. However it was free, and that is an universal favorite word of University students.

For all you Harry Potter fans out there, Anna and I did the free Harry Potter tour where you can see direct places that JK Rowling got her influence from. Such as theres a school, that has four houses that the houses of Hogwarts mirror. However sadly there is no sorting hat, and students are placed randomly into the houses.

Scotland

This is the Elephant House cafe which is where most of the third and fourth books were written. JK Rowling wrote in back room where she could see the grave yard, that inspired a scene from the fourth book, and Edinburgh castle which was an inspiration for Hogwarts Castle.

Scotland

A really cool thing is inside the bathrooms almost every inch of it is covered with graffiti, from book quotes, to what Harry Potter means to people, thank you notes to JK Rowling, and the unofficial official sign up place for Dumbledores Army.

Scotland

It may not look like much but this is the inspiration for Diagon Alley! We know this because JK Rowling has said so herself.

As much as Elephant Cafe may call themselves the birth place of Harry Potter, it was more likely this place called Spoon, which is where she wrote the entire first book, and provides much more of a friendly writing environment than Elephant House Cafe.

Scotland

Anna and I settled down for some tea and ginger beer after our tour so we could relax before going back into the cold and rain. It was a perfect place to relax and the next day we went for brunch we liked it THAT much.

Scotland

Edinburgh castle was just as magnificent as you would expect from a proper medieval castle. It was  like a little town once you entered the gates, and I don’t mean because of gift shops, I mean because you could tell that people worked and lived in the same area.

Scotland

Scotland

The view from the castle was the perfect view of the entire city it was for fear of being too repetitive in these posts, breath taking.

Scotland

I laughed out loud at this cafe… I just could not pass up an opportunity to get a picture of this sign.

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

The queen like with Stirling castle is required to visit here once a year at least. There’s three official royal castles (not places) I think and two are in Scotland if I remember/ heard correctly.

Scotland

Scotland

You see how green that grass it? That’s because it rains folks. A lot. It rained even at the end of our only sunny day. I wore rain boots the entire time I was there.  Fun fact though, whenever I would bring up I’m going to Uni in North Wales, they would say stuff like “it rains more there than it does here!” So I guess I get the worst of it, and it just follows me wherever.

Scotland

A beautiful stain glass window, from St. Margaret’s Chapel which is the oldest part of the castle. I had to take a picture.

Scotland

And as always my odds and ends to tie up this post. We were able to see the Scottish crown jewels but pictures were unfortunately not allowed. We wandered a lot when went shopping on the Royal Mile, which is a street leading up (or away depending on which direction you’re going), from the castle.

We walked in and out of quite a few free museums and galleries, and neither Anna or tried Haggis. I did however find a cathedral so my cathedral and castle count both increase by 1. With castle still very much so in the lead. I would love to travel to other parts of Scotland it’s such a wonderful place.

Castle Count: 10

Cathedral Count: 6

The Highlands

I traveled to the lands of kilts and bagpipes this week, (and no I don’t mean ALL of Scotland I mean the highlands). Much like how Bavarian tradition is what most people attribute to Germany, the highlands, ie kilts, bagpipes, ect is what has been attributed to all of Scotland. Anna and I booked a tour for a day, it was called Rabbies highland tours, or something like that and it was amazing, and I recommend it to everyone! We choose the trip in the west highlands, and after waking up at the wee crack of dawn we were off. Our tour guide asked us where everyone was from, and I panicked and said Costa Rica… not a complete lie. From then on I alternated telling people I was from Wales (for ease) and from DC.

For all you Game of Thrones, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and/or Outlander fans out there, we went to Doune Castle, which has been featured in all of them.

Scotland

The electronic tour was given by the guys from Monty Python with special interruptions from the actor that plays Jamie Fraser.

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The gift shop was benefiting from being the sight of Castle Leoch, and Winterfell for sure, I myself picked up a few post cards and shot glass.

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From there we went to our first Loch of many, it was stunning as the water was incredibly clear.

Scotland

You can tell when once you enter into the highlands, there’s a shift of scenery, and theres a ton mo

re cattle, and sheep.

Panoramas

I’m pleased to announce we didn’t find any monsters.

Scotland

From this lake is also where the first photo in this post was taken… just in case anyone couldn’t tell.

So lets think from just one hour in the highlands my castle count has already increased by one. Keep an eye because that’s going to keep increasing.

Scotland

There was this quaint little town that we traveled to, and was instructed by our tour guide to NOT go into the gift shop or he would leave us. It was around here we stopped for lunch.

Scotland

There were these rapids that reminded me a lot of great falls, and surprise surprise they were just magnificent.

Scotland

Scotland

There was a point in the tour where the guide was showing us a map of the highlands with all the clans charted out (he’s from clan Gordon in case anyone was wondering), and we heard this nose and it was a farmer calling his sheep to feed them. Anna freaked out.

Scotland

Our day in the highlands was perfect weather… well actually it could of been a tab bit warmer, but it was still sunny. I’m pretty sure it was the only day Anna was here that it was truly sunny.

Scotland

Castle count is up by one. Keep track. This was a medieval  fortress on a loch, that had a grizzly scene where one clan beheaded around 13 members of another clan. Soon after it was abandoned.

Scotland

The history of the highland clans is a lot of fighting between each other, the predominate cause being that some of them were for the Protestant cause, and others were Catholic. This caused a lot of turmoil in the lands.

Scotland

Surprise surprise another castle! Guess what? The owner of this Castle is from the clan Campell (fairly certain could be wrong,) and is a friend of Prince Charles.

Scotland

Scotland

Below the castle was a town, with a cute little street, and it was on the Atlantic ocean. There were so many birds I thought I was going to be attacked Anna liked it a lot.

Scotland

I did like the ducks though, I love ducks they’re great. I don’t like swans very much they’re evil, and I don’t like seagulls at all.

Scotland

This is another place that Outlander was filmed. I only know this because the tour guide told us that he saw all the buses out and the filming.

Scotland

The pass has a name, I think it was called pray and be thankful, because the roads to it were quite turbulent, and I’m sure that the poor horses were almost dead after doing this.

Scotland

Or maybe it was rest and be thankful. Either way I was thankful to be there. However as you can tell the weather started taking a turn by the end of the tour, I mean it is the UK after all I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Scotland

The last castle we saw was Stirling castle, and the queen visits it once a year. The pictures are a little bad because it was getting dark at this point. But you can see how it’s built on a hill, and in some spots even into the hill. It was the key to controlling Scotland. It’s what Bonnie Prince Charlie failed to capture to put a Stuart back on the throne of the UK.  Quite cool. That makes four castles in highlands, that we stopped out but if I’m being honest there was a lot more.

 

We weren’t able to get to Inverness or isle of Skye which is way up in the highlands but I very much want to. I heard it’s beautiful and I have to make it there. It’s also where the battle of Culloden happened, which is where the Jacobite forces were defeated, and the English ransacked the highlands, creating it what it is now, which is a much reduced population from what it once was.

Castle Count: 9

Cathedral Count: 5

Hohenschwangau Castle

Ludwig the II may have built (incomplete at that) Neuschwanstein, but he grew up in Hohenschwangau. Like the previous pictures were not allowed inside. So outside had to do, and no this is not a Spanish castle although it does kind of look like it.

The castle was originally built as a nights stronghold around the late 12th century- 13th century. It changed hands multiple times before it feel into disrepair in the 17th century.

Lugwigs father Maximilian II of Bavaria, decided to restore it, in the 19th century. Once it was complete it became the official hunting and summer residence of the royal family.

The floor was kept the same from the middle ages, and the castle was rebuilt with the ruins from the strong hold, giving it a much older look than it currently is.

Ludwig’s room had a telescope pointed to Neuschwanstein where he could watch it being built.

The last residence of the castle lived in it during the 1940’s (according to Wikipedia), since then it has been open to the public for tours.

Valentin and I agreeded that Neuschwanstein is mine, and this one is his. Everyone else can share the smaller castle or “castlette” which is about an hour away, and use to the summer residence of the royal family until this was built.

This castle once again ties up the castle and cathedral count!

Castle Count:5

Cathedral Count: 5

Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein castle was Walt Disneys inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle.

It was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the nineteenth century. Many of Richard Wagners (good friend of Ludwig and writer of the Wedding March!) stories are on the walls. 

The castle was never finished. King Ludwig has a premature death (probably suicide) before it could be complete, there for the throne room is missing a throne, the chapel was never built and not all the paintings are finished. 

There was this bridge that offered a fantastic vantage point for pictures. It was breath taking.

The castle is known for its pictureque winter scenes with the alps behind it and the snow covering, its easy to see why Ludwig was called the fairy tale king.  

This stunning castle was paid for out of Ludwigs own personal funds rather than tax payers. It was meant to a secluded get away for the private and deeply religious king. However six years after his death it was opened to the public.  We weren’t allowed pictures inside so we have a quite a few from outside. But look at this? Do you blame us?

A lovely castle on the hill.

Cathedral Count: 5

Castle Count: 4

Penrhyn Castle

Apparently it’s not a real castle, but it was suppose to be a hunting lodge… which is insane. It’s beautiful and huge, I cant even imagine having so much money that I go to built a hunting lodge and end up building a castle.

The entire Castle won’t even fit into one picture, not even a panorama could fit the entire thing.

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Even though the day was cloudy, and the grounds were muddy from rain the night before it did not rain while we were there and for that I count it as a success!

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There were beautiful gardens that were fairy tale- quality, and had a eerie quality to them while in the winter but I’m sure in the spring or summer, it’s even more stunning.

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The views from the castle were stunning themselves. From one side you get rolling hills, and the sea (or maybe it’s the menai straights), and on the other side you get the Snowdon Mountain range, which luckily looked like it just snowed recently and had a lot of snow on top.

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The inside of the castle wasn’t open so I’ll have to go again one day when it is.

Once again this is a place I want to travel back to when the weather is a bit warmer, because I’m sure the grounds are stunning. Now our castle count and cathedral count are all tied up.

Castle Count: 3

Cathedral Count: 3