Home at last and almost recovered from jet lag. My ten days in Britain were amazing. I loved it and can't wait to go back. In the meantime, I've got the 200 pictures I took to help me relive the trip. I've posted many of them in the Gallery here.
I started my journey in the English city of Chester, which became my favorite stop on my trip and a place I definitely want to return to. I visited the cathedral, walked along the canal and the city walls, saw Roman ruins.
Then I embarked on the walking part of my trip: taking the Wales Coast Path along the River Dee from Chester to Oakenholt. That first day on the path I walked 11 miles. It would have been more, except I met a woman who was friends with my B&B hosts and she gave me a ride to the farm where the B&B was located. That night, I fell asleep at the B&B without eating dinner.
The next day, I ended up walking 10.5 miles. I started in Flint, at the castle, and followed the path up to the dragon beacon at Bagillt. I only got lost 3 times. There are beacons all along the Welsh-English border, created as a warning system against invasion from the east (i.e., from England). The one in Bagillt, however, is the only one that looks like a dragon. By then, my feet had cried "Uncle!" so I took the bus the rest of the way to the beach town of Prestatyn. From my window at the B&B, I had a clear view of the Irish Sea.
Llandudno (thlan-did-no) was the next stop on my tour. A Victorian-era resort town, Llandudno was my second-favorite city from the trip and another place I'd like to visit again. I took the tram to the top of the Great Orme, a large limestone headland, and took some fabulous pictures of the Irish Sea. I walked the Victorian-era pier and the beach-front promenade. I also learned that the family of Alice Liddell--the girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland--had a vacation house in Llandudno, which explained all the Alice in Wonderland sculptures in town. I saw Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter. Rumor had it, there was a Dormouse somewhere in town too.
The medieval town of Conwy was my next stop. It was by far the most crowded city I saw on my trip, jam-packed with residents and tourists and cars and buses. There, I visited the castle--built in the 1200s by Edward I, saw a suspension bridge built in the 1800s, "toured" the Smallest House of Great Britain (i.e., stepped inside and turned around), visited Aberconwy House (a merchant's house from the 1300s), and saw Plas Mawr (an Elizabethan townhouse). I also encountered a bunch of seagulls who begged like dogs. One even "barked" at someone who was eating, hoping for crumbs.
From there, I headed to Bangor, where it rained for two days straight. That was the only time on my trip I encountered the famous Welsh weather. The rest of the trip was unusually sunny (which explains why I came home with a sunburn). While in Bangor, I took a day trip to Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. I rode the train to the top of the mountain, where it was cloudy and freezing. Got some fabulous pictures on the way down, though, including one of a sheep on the hillside that I may just print and frame. My B&B in Bangor was near the Menai Bridge, a suspension bridge which crosses the Menai Strait between mainland Wales and the Isle of Anglesey. Anglesey is on my list to visit next time around. I just didn't have time this visit.
Next on the grand tour was Gladstone's Library in the town of Hawarden (har-den). Once the estate of British Prime Minister William Gladstone, the Library is just that: a library with a core collection of Gladstone's personal books. Guests who sleep at the Library can borrow books from the collection. It also has a cafe, a parlor, and rooms where guests can stay. My room was former servants' quarters: back of the house, up two narrow stairways, small room with a view of the roof. It was a little chilly. The whole building was. I understand now why old buildings hung massive tapestries on the walls: to reduce the drafts!
From the small town of Hawarden, it was on to the large city of Liverpool--specifically, Albert Dock. Located on the Mersey River, Albert Dock was Museum Central. I started with the Beatles Story, which tells the story of the Fab Four from their births as war babies through their breakup and John Lennon's death. I think I spent more money in that gift shop than anywhere else on my trip. While at the Dock, I also visited the International Slavery Museum, the Merseyside Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Liverpool. I didn't get through everything at the Museum of Liverpool. It's a place I'd be willing to visit again.
Then it was back to where I started: Chester. One last night in my favorite city, one last walk along the canal, and then it was time to head to Manchester and fly home.
Monday, it's back to real life, so I can start saving for my next trip back. I can't wait.