Speaking historically

St. David's cathedral

Sure is green here. I grew up in Oregon, which is perpetually green.
These hills seem to roll on forever. I’ve seen many rolling hills in my life.
Boy these cliffs are impressive. I’m sure there are more like them in the world.

But when you combine these items together and toss in some really, really old stuff, its a recipe for amazement. This is Wales … rolling green hills, filled with old stuff, that suddenly fall off a cliff … and its epic.

With my other UK adventures still fresh in my mind, I honestly wasn’t expecting much from Wales. At best, it was more of the same. But what I encountered was so thoroughly breathtaking that it might be hard not to call it my favorite.

It didn’t start out that way though. My flight from Paris to Cardiff had exactly nine people on it. That’s not even enough to use numerals in a sentence! After arrival and passport control, I found myself alone in an airport that didn’t look open for business. And when I say alone, I mean completely alone. As in, not another soul in the building.

After a bit of sleuthing, the long and winding journey to town began. This included waiting (alone) at the bus stop for 45 minutes wondering if the bus was actually going to show up for one person.

The short ride barely gave me a chance to thinking things were looking up, before the driver said we had arrived at the Rhoole International Airport train station. Here I was greeted by nothing more that a platform to stand on. So barren was the “station,” that the bus driver shouted that I was standing facing the wrong direction. Here I waited for another 25 minutes, before this chugging behemoth came to a lurching halt in front of me. Skeptical it could makes the journey into Cardiff, I climbed aboard and hoped for the best, eventually arriving in the city.

My first impression of Cardiff were not great. It felt grimy and looked like it was stuck in 1986, and not in a good way. Add to that my first couple days were filled with rain soaked attempts to see the sights. My host, and new dear friend, Erin, did her best to show me around and make me believe Wales was a wonderful place.

We decided to rent a car and spend a few days on the Pembrokeshire peninsula, in southwest Wales. Weather reports put our chances of rain squarely at 50/50. So we set out, hoping for the best, but prepared to be soaked.

The first afternoon was spent exploring the Gowery, a small peninsula replete with towering cliffs and winds so forceful they could blow you away. Before the wind gods could take us, we powered our way through sand dunes to reach Pennard Castle. When I think of castles, this is what I’m thinking of … old, decrepit piles of rock that were once glorious strongholds. To cap the day, wandered the streets of the picturesque town of Tenby, enjoying sunset from its old town harbor.

Our second day started with a return to Tenby to attempt getting more photos of the harbor at full tide. After some shopping in the old town, we headed out for the far southwestern edge of the country.

For any Potterheads (no, not pot heads, although maybe they overlap) reading this, you’d be delighted to know we went to Freshwater West, or as you’d affectionately call it, Dobby’s Beach. There is a memorial for free elf and we left our tokens of respect.

We then made our way to the town of St. David, and the famous Eglwys Gadeiriol Tyddewi, or St. David’s Cathedral. As far as stunning old churches go, this might just be my favorite. A beautiful tower surrounded by ruins of the Bishop’s Palace and a less than creepy cemetery on a hill!

With the sun in the downward trajectory, we started towards a town we hoped would have accommodation for us for the night. And just as the day hit peak golden hour, we happened by a castle on a hill. After a quick “should we check it out” chat, we doubled back to see if we had made the right choice.

Boy did we! This is probably the coolest thing I’ve experienced on this journey thus far. Dryslwyn Castle, build in the early 13th century, has the most epic 360º view of the entire valley around it. My mouth was agape with awe the entire time we explore the ruins. I caught all the feels standing at the top, soaking in the majestically lush green surroundings. Honestly didn’t want to ever leave, wishing that time would stand still.

The remaining few days back in Cardiff, in good weather, allowed this town the second chance it deserved. We strolled the city under the wonderful rays of a sunny day, enjoying the beautiful Bute Park and taking in Cardiff Castle a second time.

I look forward to returning to this beautiful country, to explore the north and to see more really, really old things!