To define this past weekend in one word?
No plan. Just raw adventure.
When you're going to one of the most scenic countries in the world, there's only one way to do it, and that's by car! My Dutch friend, Lizette, offered to drive her car (Panda) for the weekend.
We left Newcastle at 6AM to Wales, a 6 hour drive, with a pitstop in Chester, England. The drive was gorgeous along the coast and through the North Pennines (very hilly English countryside).
I don't know that there are much windier and hilly roads than the ones we drove through in Wales! You're also guaranteed to see an abundance of sheep, windmills, and mossy lush greenery.
We arrived around 2PM in Snowdonia National Park, home to the highest mountain in Wales at 3,560 feet. The odds were in our favor. We had nothing but luck the whole trip. The weather was beyond gorgeous and thankfully we arrived at Snowdonia (Snodon in Welsh) just in time to catch the last train of the day up the mountain. (22£)
The view atop Snowdonia was breathtaking. Completely clear skies, a little wind but nothing unbearable, a light dusting of snow but not over our ankles. The light was beyond words, it reminded me of looking into a pool when the light reflects off the bottom of the water casting shapes and shimmers. The clouds moving in and out of the way of the sun created shades and shapes upon the mountains making them all the more picturesque. I can't describe how I felt during these moments other than being in utter awe of our Creator.
We headed down Snowdonia around 6PM and still had an hour drive till we arrived at our hostel.
After many winding, hilly, roller-coaster like roads with spectacular scenery, we found our nights stay along the coast of Mid-Wales on Borth Beach.
Beaches in England aren't like the California coast. If you can't tell by my scarf, it's cold, but still just as beautiful (if not more so) in a whole different way.
Cute and colorful houses seem to be in most all of my favorite cities in Europe. I can tell you I'm going to be 'that homeowner' on the block that paints her house a crazy color! There's just something about colored paint that brings out the character and personality in a place.
Side-note: the VW van was super cute too... too much charm in this little coastal city for me to handle.
As we got to Borth Beach, it was just a half hour till sunset (another encounter with luck during our day). Our hostel was the blue-grey colored house on the end. We had just enough time to change our clothes and freshen up before catching the sun setting into the sea.
We closed out our first day in Wales with some fresh seafood from a pub just down the street. I got the red snapper, a fish I had never tried before. Most all seafood in the UK comes with squid as the snapper did as well as prawn (shrimp) in a stew like sauce. I can honestly say it was the best seafood I've had to date (and that's saying a lot as I eat seafood every chance I get).
Though I was exhausted, something about that evening made me feel like I could stay up all night long. We had a nice evening stroll along the rocky beach to our hostel underneath one of the starriest nights I've ever seen. We were singing and playing our 'song of the day' at first but then decided to take in the faint sound of waves creeping up on the coast. It was an odd kind of silence. Being away from the busy city center and without the hum and honking of cars let the overwhelming sound of silence sink in.
It was the most peaceful and content I've felt in a long time.
We woke up the next day at 8AM and after having a breakfast feast at our hostel we packed our things, checked out, and decided to drive up the coast into the green hills of Wales.
We were all so surprised on how we fortunate we were with the weather! Everyone know how it rains in London all the time, but honestly, that's practically all of the UK for you.
Lizette had heard about some Welsh waterfalls roundabouts on our way back to Newcastle so we set out to find them. On the way there we stumbled upon a nice pitstop for coffee.
The city of Bala (near Penllyn) is a cute market town on a lake called Llyn Tepid that looks upon Snowdonia. It's in the Welsh Lake District where you can sail boats and even swim! We were shocked to see people swimming in the lake when it was only April and I had a jacket (or two) on.
We eventually made it to the falls, known as Betws y Coed in Welsh which when translates to 'a praying place in the trees'. It was only 1.5 pounds entrance to where the falls are.
It took the rest of they day to drive back to Newcastle. We took a scenic route (like anything isn't scenic in Wales) different than our previous drive. The drive through the Lake District was similar to the Welsh Lake District, both known for their mountains, hills, lakes and 'Outstanding National Beauty'.
Wales exceeded my expectations and is in the books as one of the most beautiful weekends I've experienced. I miss the green, lush landscapes of Wales already.... but luckily this weekend I'll be flying to Ireland for a 5 day adventure since I haven't gotten my fill of the scenic views in the UK.