Week 2, part 3

A view of Conwy looking across the harbor, showing the castle and the city walls.

Sheep graze on the lush hills of the Welsh countryside.

The Betws-y-Coed train station.

So with this week's political rant out of our system (mostly), let's talk about Wales. We took a day trip to Wales on Monday. Our destination was Betws-y-Coed (pronounced Betsy Coed), a kinda touristy little burg in Snowdonia National Park. We had to change trains at Llandudno Junction (people we asked said "I can't pronounce it either"), which is on the north coast of Wales between Chester and Holyhead. With two hours to kill between trains and a castle in sight, we walked toward the castle and found ourselves in Conwy. The castle stands where the river meets the harbor, and ancient walls extend from the castle to embrace the rest of the city. Our walk included a portion of the top of the city walls, which date back to the 1200's.

We followed this river inland for about half an hour. Betws-y-Coed is in a region as rugged as Appalachia. Sheep graze on green fields ringed by stone walls, and they're tended by farmers living in picturesque homes built from the same stone. We made our way onto a walking path straight up the mountain into a forest of moss, ferns, and suspiciously young timber. At the top of the mountain is Lake Elsi, the source of the water supply for the town below. Occasionally, our peaceful setting was disrupted by the passage of a low-flying fighter jet (!). We found out later that this is normal training territory, and it had nothing to do with the war that had just begun the previous day. As our trail went back down the mountain it got trickier, as we were directed onto what was essentially a steep, narrow, rocky stream.

One other thing about Wales: the Welsh language is alive and well, as most of the signage was in Welsh and English (Welsh was always on top).

A view of Conwy Castle from inside the city walls.

The reward for our challenging hike in Wales was this view of Lake Elsi and the Welsh mountains.

St. Mary's Church, in the Welsh town of Betws-y-Coed.

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