I did make it it to London! Don’t worry everyone! You really think I would have gone to the UK for 6 months and not make it to London??? I want more time, I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to, and my phone died so I have no pictures, because of course of I don’t. So this post is fairly short. In London when switching trains I met someone from Reston! How weird! It’s a small world after all is playing in the background. As my birthday present, Edward and I went to see Les Mis, on West End and it was beyond amazing. Words cant explain how amazing it was. It was well worth the wait, to finally see it live. In case anyone doesn’t know, I’ve been obsessed with it since the movie came out in 2012, so it was nice to see it!
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
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.
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
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
Leanna my roommate from back in the states came for 10 days! How wonderful!!!!! While she was here I turned 21 (finally!), we went to Conwy (for the third time, so I’ll save the pictures from that you can just look at all my other Conwy pictures), Cardiff, Llandudno, and provided her with the ultimate North Wales (except Cardiff), adventure.
Lets talk Llandudno.
Llandudno, was about an hour bus ride, and well worth the trip. It’s a cute little seaside town, that offers a different type of charm than Conwy. Lewis Carroll famously took trips with Alice to here, so a majority of the town has Alice and wonderland themes.
We spent a majority of our time on the pier. Which went on forever!
However it probably took us a while to get to the end, because there were arcades that we kept popping into for fun.
(It’s really no surprise that Mollie and I got into mischief.)
The weather was beautiful and comfortable, with a nice breeze, and actually some sun. Leanna was lucky with the weather she got. At the end of the pier was a little cafe where we sat for some refreshments. It’s also where we found out that seagulls like tea too!
We ended our day, walking on this rocky beach, and venturing into a cave, which none of us were dressed for.
After my mom left, I all of a sudden had nothing to do, and no one to do nothing with. So I called up my lovely Mollie, and asked if I could spend a few days with her in Liverpool, and while we didn’t so much, and it was mostly rest and relaxation, here are some pictures from when we finally ventured out.
This bookstore had a kitty it made me very happy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I laughed out loud at this cafe… I just could not pass up an opportunity to get a picture of this sign.
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.
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.
A beautiful stain glass window, from St. Margaret’s Chapel which is the oldest part of the castle. I had to take a picture.
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
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.
The electronic tour was given by the guys from Monty Python with special interruptions from the actor that plays Jamie Fraser.
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.
From there we went to our first Loch of many, it was stunning as the water was incredibly clear.
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.
I’m pleased to announce we didn’t find any monsters.
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.
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.
There were these rapids that reminded me a lot of great falls, and surprise surprise they were just magnificent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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