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We're in Wales!

So those of you who've been with me a while know that I used to fly to London a lot for family reasons. And back then we always flew direct flights - it's about 10 1/2 hours SFO to London. But this trip we booked our flight with a stop in Philadelphia, and I think I liked this better. It was 5 hours to Philly, then 6 hours to Manchester, and I have to say that breaking up the flight with a walk and a very short stopover (it was less than an hour and the new Philly airport is absolutely fabulous and was very quiet on a Wednesday evening) was perfect. A 5 or 6 hour flight is much easier to swallow than a 10 or 11 hour flight. There's always that point, about 7 hours in, where you just can't take any fucking more, but with two shorter flights I never reached that point. So...all I'm saying is I was surprised to find that I liked our flight itinerary more than I thought I would.

Once we arrived in Manchester England, Englaaaand,* we picked up our rental car and proceeded directly for Northern Wales. We landed around 8am Thursday morning, cleared passport control, etc. and were on the road by 10:30am. Our first stop is Llandudno, Wales. We booked our trip through a travel agent, basically said, here, take our money and book us a rental car and some hotels, we want to see Wales. Well, that TOTALLY WORKED OUT. I have a very nice letter I must write to Destinations Ireland when we get home. Our first hotel, where we'll be for 3 nights, is the Bodysgallen Hall, a country home originally built in 1620 and added onto since then. We have a private cottage set slightly away from the main house, with a private garden. Here is our current abode:

We have the whole cottage you see here. There are sheep grazing on the hillside outside our front door, in fields divided by low stone walls. Sheepies and little lambs!!!!

After the long travel day, showers and a nap were just what the doctor (or me) ordered. After rousing ourselves around 3:30pm we headed out to check out Llandudno, a Victorian resort on the Irish Sea. It was 4-ish when we set out on our walk along the promenade and pier, but unfortunately most of the little shops and kiosks were closed and it was drizzling a bit. That didn't stop us though.

(One of the rides on the pier had this sign. I was amused.)

Looking back at Llandudno's Victorian seafront from the Pier. I guess it's kind of a long pier. It is a lovely seafront promenade, filled with Victorian architecture and very pretty!

After walking all the way out on the pier and back, we wandered through town where we grabbed a coffee and then got in the car to head up the Great Orme. It was very windy up at the top and cold, so I didn't take any pictures, although the view was spectacular it was the kind of 360-degree magnificence that never quite translates into a picture. On the way down, though...suddenly a BUNNY BUN BUN!!

As we descended from the Great Orme I realized I was hungry as I hadn't eaten in more than 6 hours (I can normally go about 3, maybe 4 at a stretch) so we headed to a local pub recommended by Lonely Planet and had fantastic pub food. Cathyn had a steak and ale pie and I had a potato, leek, and cheese bake. None of which I will be posting pictures of because if I posted pictures of my dinner online then I would have to kill myself. Srsly. Don't post pictures of your fucking food, people. Also, anybody who says the food is bad in the UK has either never been and just heard that somewhere and parrots it because they're stupid, or didn't know where to eat when they were here. Some of the best meals I've ever had have been on this Sceptered Isle.

As we arrived back at Bodysgallen Hall we stopped in at Reception to ask about where/when our breakfast would be and then realized...there was so much more to the grounds than we had seen when we'd stumbled in half-blind with exhaustion earlier in the day! So we walked to the other side of the main house and suddenly...gardens!

The Main House

Just around the front - look, a fountain! I had no idea how much more would be coming though...

Next a little hedgerow path/maze! This hotel, so amazing!

Further into the gardens, we look back toward the main house:

Look at me, I seriously can't even believe this!

As we walked further and further along the grounds just kept unfolding before us. Each little walled in garden gave way to another path, another gate, another hidden gem. After the formal garden with the fountain and maze, we passed through a stone wall to a functional garden where it was clear that some of the produce for the hotel's restaurant was being grown, and some VERY well established cherry trees were thriving.

And then we followed a sign through another gate in a wall to a "Forest Walk and Terrace." This walk took us along paths through a woods and along another stone wall, occasionally the foliage would part to show us views across the town of a castle and mountains:

And then the winding path would drop us into a bluebell-covered meadow with an inviting bench:

Finally we decided it was time to head back (nature calls), so we headed back knowing we hadn't nearly seen all of the forest walk and another visit tomorrow would ensue. As we made our way back to the main house we discovered that we had not even scratched the surface of the gardens around it, as we walked along yet another path, to the right of which was a croquet course set up and waiting for someone to play:

And then, as we passed through another wall we came up on yet another maze, which we didn't even have time to walk as things were getting quite desperate for us to get back to our cottage at that point, but we will return later!

Finally back at the main house, I took a picture back down the way we'd come, standing at the main house and looking out.

There is clearly much more here to explore on the Bodysgallen Hall grounds. Also they have a spa with which we will endeavor to book massages, however the only times available for tomorrow were 11 and 12, which would eat into our extremely strict castle-spotting and lollygagging schedule to which we must adhere for the day, so perhaps the next day.

And now, back in our cottage, we are relaxing with a Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer before bedtime. Delicious and highly recommended!

Tomorrow: Castle Spotting and Lollygagging! We may have to buy a camera too. There's been a serious camera dysfunction and I'm currently taking pics with my phone, which hates humanity and all that it stands for, so a new camera may be in the cards just to ensure I get some pics worth keeping and don't lose the ability to take them halfway through some amazing Castle and/or Lollygagging photo op.

And bed! To be gently lulled to sleep by the baaing of sheepies and lambies...

*Across the Atlantic Sea! Oh've got some sticking power. I only saw you once when I was 16 but that snippet has been stuck in my head since we booked our tickets, and all across the ocean flight from Philly.

Date: 2014-05-08 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
...alcoholic ginger beer? I must see if I can find some. Imagine the Pimm's cups, dark & stormys, and other chicanery that could ensue!

Date: 2014-05-09 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've seen some, Stateside. Check the Fancy Cider section of your local shops.

Date: 2014-05-08 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sigh, your photos actually make me interested in that sort of travel some day, if I ever have a travel budget. Couch surfing is a great way to meet interesting people, but one doesn't stay in places that look like that!

Date: 2014-05-08 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And I'm a genius, genius...and I believe in Dog!

I wish I had smuggled into your luggage. :(

Date: 2014-05-08 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wales! The one part of the UK I have insufficiently explored! *sigh* Looks fabulous & I adore your accommodations. Also, my hippie mom sang the musical "Hair" to me all growing up, so yeah, Manchester. That said, I've tried the 1-stop UK flight & hate it - walking around at what feels like 3am doesn't make my insomnia any better.

Date: 2014-05-09 06:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Huh. We left SFO at 11am, so we were walking around in Philadelphia at about 4pm Pacific time. ? All in all, we got in to Manchester at 8am local time, which is about an hour later than my usual non-stop to London always got me in.

Date: 2014-05-09 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh. Mah. Gahd. Omygahd.

I must go to there.

Date: 2014-05-09 03:14 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-05-09 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is really lovely there. I'm rethinking my idea of travel. This looks like something my limp could handle.

Date: 2014-05-09 10:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Total. Awesome.

Date: 2014-05-09 03:13 pm (UTC)
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