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Kelsey’s Travel Diary

Monday, 29 Jan 2007

Location: Bangor, Wales


Today was the first day of classes, but since I don't start my sport psych class till next week I just had one class from 9 to 10 then I have my welsh culture class tonight at 6:30. I probably should have started this sooner, but I'll do my best to recap to this point.

I got to the Manchester International airport on the 18th at around 8 a.m. It was suprisingly easy to get through customs and all of that, but the lady did ask me quite a few questions much money do you have in your bank account..things like that. And since I just got my wisdom teeth out, everytime we got to a certain elevation, half of my face would go numb and that seriously interfered w/my sleep. At the airport I sat around for awhile, then I noticed a few kids w/central stuff so I met a couple girls. Once we were all there we got on the bus and headed for Bangor. It was really windy that day, and it looked like the truck in front of us was about to blow over. When we got to Bangor, the first thing we drove by was the crematorium...that was exciting. We got to our dorms and since I applied late I got assigned a handicapp room, and its actually pretty huge. I'll put up pics. We all went down the a pub that night, the varsity, and ate and had our first legal drinks in Wales.

The next morning we had a small sort of orientation, but it was fast and fairly painless. After that Tecwyn, our instructor, took us downtown to show us all the little shops. I love it downtown, very cute area. I still have no sense of direction here though. I'm always getting lost. We spent most of that day walking around town. I ended up leaving my folder w/all of my orientation stuff at a little kebob place where we ate (woops).

The next day, Saturday, we had free and a small group of us tried to walk down to the pier, but were unsuccessful. After that we walked around downtown, and I went to the place where I'd left my folder and they had it luckily and the guy that worked there was laughing at me...That night we all needed to go to the grocery store because we had to bring a lunch for our tour the next day, so we decided to go to Morrisons at 8, the closest grocery store, but it closed at eight. We ended up walking like three miles, no joke, to Tesco, and of course as soon as we started walking back it started raining. We stopped at McDonalds on the way back and while we were there it started to thunder and lightning. The walk back was miserable. It was hailing on us and there was a thunderstorm...I don't mind thunderstorms but I've decided I don't really appreciate hiking back to school in them. Ended up just coming back and chilling that night.

The next morning we all met outside to get on the bus and start our tour of wales. Tecwyn would comment on little things while we drove, and he's actually pretty funny. Our first stop witasn't that far away. We drove to Devil's Kitchen, and hiked our way up to a lake that is at the bottom of some mountains. It got that name because when the wind is blowing hard, there is a howling noise from it hitting the mountain sides. Next we went to Swallow Falls. It was a nice waterfall, kind of reminded me of some of the ones we visited on field trips when I was younger. When we got there we had to put a pound each in before the revolving gate would let us in, so to save money Tecwyn had some of us squeeze two in at a time. It was pretty funny. We stopped in a small town next called Betws-y-Coed and had coffee, I think the bus needed to be looked at or something. Our next stop was my first castle ever. It was actually the smallest castle. We had to pay a woman at her house, then hiked up to the ruins. It was small, but still pretty amazing. There were sheep everywhere. And our teacher told us that the sheep farmers don't actually have to do that much, because over time they have evolved and so each new generation already knows the terrain and can survive pretty well on their own. He also said that the foot and mouth threat a few years ago would have been devestating because it would have taken years and years to get new sheep to get to the same point.

Next we went to the Llechwedd Slate Mine. We had two seperate tours. One where we walked around in an old mine and there were audio spots for us to stop at. There was a really sweet lake like thing towards the end of that. The slate mines used to be a really big part of the area, and there are still slate quarries there I think. Most of the houses are roofed with slate, and a good slate roof is supposed to be guarranteed for 200 years. We also went down into another mine in little trains and a man talked to us about a few different areas. It was very informative, but still interesting. Also at some point during this day we stopped at "The Ugly House" just to take pictures. There was an old tradition that if you wanted a piece of land, all you had to do was build a house and have smoke coming from the chimney in 24 hours and that land would be yours. And however far you could throw an ax from the door would be the area of land around the house that would be yours too.

Around 4 or 5 we arrived at our hotel in Aberystwyth. We all got showered and settled. I roomed with Whit and Mel and we got a HUGE room. I had my own room basically w/a queen bed, then there was also a room w/bunk beds and another queen. The bathroom had a shower and jacuzzi tub and a beday (I definetly didn't spell that right). We all went as a group to the Pier and ordered pizza. After that we went to the Academy, which was a pub that had been converted from an old cathedral church. We hung out there for awhile. Some people went back to the Pier after that for Karaoke, but I headed home. Our hotel was ocean front too so that was nice. Early that morning we were all woken by the fire alarm...The funny thing was, the next day Tecwyn told us that he had sat in the hotel lobby till about 1 a.m. to watch us all come back and that no one looked over and saw him there.

The next morning we left the hotel and went to the ruins of an old castle, it wasn't overly exciting. Then we headed to the National Library of Wales, but I felt kind of bad for our tour guide, because I think everyone was pretty tired. We went to an old church next and all of these buildings are pretty amazing architecturally and stuff. On our way back to Bangor we visited Caernarfon Castle and it is the biggest Norman Castle in Northern Europe. It was Giant. We stayed there for awhile then headed back to campus. That night just hung out and watched a movie.

Next day, Tuesday, was the last day of our tour. It was fun, but I was getting a little tired of getting on and off a bus all day. The next morning we left at 9 and visited the Holy Well of St. Winifred. We took an audio tour, but my batteries were dying so the guys voice was like really low and slow mo. Next we went to Chester. It was a nice town with alot of shopping. It was pretty cold out though. We had another audio tour of the Chester Cathedral. This woman also took us all around Chester and gave us a tour of the town and its history...she was a little crazy though. She kept talking about how she loves horses and stuff..After this we had free time, but I was so cold I couldn't move my fingers so ended up getting coffee and just hanging out there till we had to leave. That night after we got back we all went to Patrick's Pub for a little while.

On Wednesday we had to go to a meeting about registration. After that we had to go pick classes and then go to those buildings to get signed in. Not too difficult. I'm taking intro to welsh culture, birth of modern europe, and psychology of sport performance. Plus I have outdoor pursuits on Tuesdays and I think that starts the 9th.

Thursday through sunday nothing too exciting happened. I was pretty ready to start school because I don't like not having anything to do all day. Sunday walked around with Mel all afternoon. We went down to the Pier and then downtown. But it was probably the worst day ever to go to the Pier since the tide was out and it was completely overcast, but I just didn't feel like sitting around all day so I'm glad we went. I think that pretty much updates to this point.