Monday, June 27, 2011

Travel Stories: Wales

 We do not take a trip; a trip takes us--John Steinbeck
One of the million things that I love about traveling is its teaching ability. Not only do you learn about new cultures and history, but you also learn a lot about yourself. Voluntarily throwing yourself outside of your everyday comfort zones can be an amazing thing. 

Last year I spent two days in Wales in between adventuring in Ireland and the Lake District in England. We arrived on the Isle of Anglesey (now fancy for its royal tenants) on a Sunday. The next day, Monday, was a bank holiday.  I had rather unfortunately thought that there would be an ATM/bank/money exchange at the port (we came by ferry) so I could exchange my euros for pounds or pull out more money. Um. No.  Between me and my travel companion we pooled enough cash to pay for the B&B and found the one and only restaurant on the island that would take our American credit cards. The mattresses at our B&B were uncomfortable and the plumbing was awkward but it was right across from the seaside, which makes up for a lot.
Because of the bank holiday, our options were limited to anything that we could walk to and that didn’t cost any of the British pounds that we didn’t have.  We thumbed through travel books and brochures, and decided to walk along the coastal path.  On Monday, after a full Welsh breakfast and delightful conversation with other travelers, we found a ride to a lighthouse to start our trek.  
So far, sounds pretty ordinary, if not a little ramshackle.  But it was this walk-about that planted Wales in my heart. We walked back to our lodging (about 10 miles) with no maps, no concrete plans or directions; we just found a path and started walking.  How beautifully freeing. I am a person that makes lists and itineraries and detailed plans, for everything. So walking, with only knowing point A and point B, but nothing in between was bold and brave.
It was one of the most beautiful days that earth has ever witnessed, I am positively sure. The blue sky, the wildflowers, the white tip waves, the sweet smelling breeze. Undauntedly going wherever the wind took us.  The path wasn’t always straight or well marked.  We climbed over stone walls, cut through pastures alongside grazing livestock, balanced along the edge of jagged cliffs, and walked along sandy beaches among vacationers in their swim costumes (favorite UK vocab).  I witnessed to myself that I can indeed exist without clutching feverishly onto all the details of my life. I can give up control, I can let go, and I can breathe and walk, and live. It was a gorgeous, happy day.
Some of the best stories are the unexpected ones, the ones that find you when you are open and willing.

On our way to the lakes, and thanks to our driver, Hugh,we passed through this little town with a long name. Why we had a driver named Hugh, is another story that very much teeters on being a Seinfeld episode. 

Town name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch


  1. This Day is forever inscribed on my heart. Heaven might be a repeat of that gorgeous guided wandering.
    You captured it beautifully.

  2. Your pictures are gorgeous! Especially that first one. Love. It.