Sunday, June 5, 2011

Teary Eyed Goodbyes, The Last Blog

I’m sitting on the bus from O’hare airport to Rockford where my cousin Jaime is picking me up. Everything feels so surreal and almost completely foreign. That is very hard to believe considering I’m now home and no longer in the UK. My journey home started at 4:30 AM UK time or 10:30 PM Iowa time. The adventure started long before that though. Thursday night, we had a going away dinner and pub crawl for those of us from the program that were still in Bangor. Tecwyn treated us to a wonderful dinner and then of course we headed to Paddy’s for one last thirsty Thursday. We had the first of many teary eyed goodbyes that night starting with Sally who was one of the OP instructors.

The next morning (Friday) we had to have all of our boxes packed up and ready to be stored for the summer. This was also our last opportunity to say goodbye to Tecwyn and that was when it really hit me. Saying goodbye to Tecwyn meant that this all was really coming to an end. The rest of the day was filled with goodbyes to some of my flat mates that were moving out, packing up the remainder of my things and cleaning my room. Everyone decided that we should stay up all night that night because we would be heading to the Manchester airport at 4:30 in the morning. So, we all just spent our last few hours together. We played cards for hours on end and we also took one last trip to Roman Camp to do some star gazing. We had to wait until it was good and dark to star gaze, which believe it or not, was well after 11 before it was completely dark out! We continued to play cards and just enjoy our last little bit of time together until about 4 when we called it quits. We were shortly all in tears as we loaded our luggage into the back of the bus that was picking us up. This would be the last time we would all be together in Bangor. Lydia and Rachel were not going on the bus with us and it was very hard to say goodbye. Pretty much everyone was in tears by the time we loaded the bus.

Our drive to Manchester was very bittersweet. We got to watch a beautiful sunrise as we looked across the sea for the last time. I soaked in as much of the beautiful surroundings as I could; it was just so sad knowing the next time I woke up it wouldn’t be surrounded by the beautiful Snowdonia Mountains. When we arrived at the airport we had to do another round of goodbyes because Sheilagh, Jake and Melissa were flying out of a different terminal than we were, so once again I ended up in tears. I knew I would see Jake again but it was very hard saying goodbye to Melissa who is from Texas and Sheilagh who is from Minnesota. All these wonderful people were my family for the last 5 and ½ months and I just didn’t want it to be over and I sure didn’t want to say goodbye.

Once we were finally at our part of the airport we all unloaded our stuff and headed for the check in counter. We were plenty early because it wasn’t even 6:30 and out plane didn’t leave until 10:40. Better to be safe than sorry. I had a little trouble checking in because I think the lady that waited on me was in a bad mood. I had never had any troubles in the past and no one else had any problems either but the lady didn’t want to allow me to use my backpack at my personal item. She said it was too big for a personal item but I had always used it that way in the past and everyone else was doing the same thing as me. I had a smaller bag that was just small enough to be considered a carry on which she also had a problem with. She made me put it in the box to make sure it was the right size. I knew it was because before I left I purposely got a smaller one to make sure it was the acceptable size. She told me I needed to take stuff out of my backpack and put it in my checked bag but that bag was pretty much ready to burst and it was barely under the weight limit. I really didn’t see what the big problem was but I did what I was told and she eventually gave in. We were all also interrogated pretty heavily about what types of things we had in our bags (such as electronics) and where we bought everything, and who packed out bags, and where the bags had been. I felt like I had done something wrong but I guess I passed because I got through. Next, we went through security which was a little different from any other time I had gone through security. I was most surprised that I didn’t have t take my shoes off. By the time we all got through security we still had a 3 hour wait before we could even get to our gate. Once they finally called our gate we headed through one last security stop and of course, lucky me, I got picked to be randomly searched. This involved a lady frisking me and then searching every single little nook and cranny of my 2 bags, oh, and I had to take off my shoes. I felt bad when she was checking my back pack because it had like 500 zippers on it. It took about 10 minutes for her to get through everything so by the time she was done it was time to board the plane.

By this time I had been awake for 26 hours and counting so I was starting to feel a little out of it. I kept telling myself that I should have slept the night before because I’m no good at sleeping while sitting up and it was bound to be a miserable flight if I was awake the whole 8 and ½ hours. As the plane took off I couldn’t fight back the tears at all. It was really happening, we were really leaving. I was so happy to be going home but I was also so sad to be leaving such a wonderful place behind. I did manage to doze off a little bit, but of course and soon as I feel asleep they were serving our food. I was lucky enough to be able to sit next to Riley and she was out cold. I jabbed and poked and yelled her name but I got no response out of her, wish I could sleep like that. After the food I think I managed to fall asleep for about 20 minutes but other than that I was awake the whole time on the plane. I enjoyed the in flight movie and I did some reading so the time passed rather quickly. Before I knew it, the captain (who happened to be the first female captain I have ever had on a flight) was announcing we would be shortly arriving in Chicago where the temp would be 89o. Yeah I didn’t miss the heat and humidity associated with the Midwest summers.

Once we landed I expected it to take hours to get through boarder control and customs but it only took about 15 minutes! At boarder control I just handed the guy my passport and he stamped it and didn’t say anything to me at all. At customs, they didn’t even look in my bags or ask me any questions. They just took the claims sheet I filled out and I was on my way. So, by this point everyone else had to give their checked bags back to be loaded on their next plane while I headed off to find my shuttle. Yet another round of teary eyed goodbyes, at least these were the last goodbyes; the next tears would be teary eyed hellos. Everyone that I said goodbye to at this point was from Iowa so there is a good chance I will run into them all again someday.

As I sit on the shuttle to Rockford texting my friends, it’s really hitting me that I’m home. It sure didn’t feel like I was gone for 5 and ½ months; it feels more like a couple of weeks. It also feels really weird to be driving on the right side of the road. I think the culture shock of coming home is going to be worse than when I went over to the UK. I have already noticed how lazy and demanding the “Americans” can be. I got on the bus and the driver asked who hadn’t purchased their tickets yet and a few people said they had not. He told them where the ticket counter was and that they should go get the tickets. They were like “is this guy for real? Or is he kidding?” Needless to say they had to get off the bus to get their tickets. In the UK, from what I noticed, no one would have made a fuss about that, they would have done what they needed to do and just got on with it. Hopefully the shock won’t be too bad since I will be too busy to think about it.


So fast forward a few hours and I’m home in Balltown! After waiting for what felt like forever for Jaime to come get me in Rockford I finally made it. Because I was able to get on an earlier shuttle, I beat my ride to Rockford. I couldn’t believe how hot it was, but after all, it is June in the Midwest. I wasn’t conditioned to this humidity and it can go away anytime. But anyways, it was so amazing seeing Gram and Jaime and Briella for the first time. I’m so lucky to have such a great family. Miss Briella played hard to get and acted all shy at first. Eventually, she warmed up and decided to be silly the rest of the way home. When I got to Gram’s, my best friend Ashley was able to stop in and it was so great to see her too!

After being awake for an unmentionable amount of hours I still had more to do. I had a wedding in Bunie to go to so I cleaned myself up and headed out. I made dad come get me once I got to Balltown because I was so tired I didn’t want to drive anymore. I was so excited that driving all came back to me. It felt weird to be driving on the right side of the street and to have the steering wheel on the left side of the car. The few times that I was in a car in Wales, I sat in the front seat and it always felt so weird not having the steering wheel in front of me. Everything came back to me and it felt amazing to be behind the wheel but I was happy to give it up so I didn’t pass out behind the wheel. It was so surreal being at the wedding and seeing everyone. It was hard to believe that just a few short hours before that I was in a whole different country. I enjoyed a few beers with friends but I tell ya what, it felt so amazing to lay my head on my pillow in my own bed!

Sitting here at the dining room table just doesn’t feel real. I can’t believe such an amazing part of my life is over but that means it is time to start a new adventure. Thank you to all of you that followed my blog. I can’t wait to see you all and tell you all the adventures in person.

Lots of Love,


Friday, June 3, 2011

One Last Adventure

I keep saying how sad I am that I didn't travel all over Europe this semester but I really did enjoy my three visits to London. If I didn't have a great family at home and a bunch of wonderful friends I could totally leave my life behind and settle into the great city. I would more or less say I'm a country girl at heart but there is just something about London that makes me so happy. I love the buzz of the city and there is always something exciting going on. If you end up being bored in London, then you are not trying at all to have any fun. If I would have studied in London this semester I would have been out of money in a month, I guarantee it! I could easily spend the rest of my life's savings going to the shows in London alone! Overall, going to London three times was worth not traveling around the rest of Europe, guess I will just have to come back sometime in the future and see what I all missed!

Monday morning started out at 5 AM and not because I wanted to. I woke up and couldn't fall back asleep because I was so excited. Around 6 I finally rolled out of bed and decided to get ready for the day. By 7:30 I was showered and fed and all ready to walk out the door. We were almost to the train station when I realized I forgot my iPod so I ran all the way back to the room to get it. Traveling is never fun without music so I thought it was worth going back for. By the time I started walking back to the station, Riley was on her way back up because she forgot her concert tickets. Good thing we left early. I waited for Riley and once she caught up to me we decided to run just in case the train was early. Good thing we did because by the time we got to the platform the train was just about ready to pull away. I was exhausted by the time we got on the train because it is just so much fun running up and down hills at 7:30 in the morning with a huge back pack. Oh well, we made it. Funny part was, Riley and I are usually waiting for Sheilagh and she was the one that had it all together that morning. The remainder of the trip everything that would go wrong we referred to as riding the "struggle bus" haha!

The rest of the travels to London were pretty uneventful. It rained the whole way there so we decided instead of walking to our hostel we would jump on the underground. There is something beautifully awful that I love about the underground. The people are packed into these tiny little trains that go through little tubs at 90 miles an hour, just crazy, but I love it. We also had to rework our route because one of the lines was closed that we wanted to take. Everything in London is currently under construction because they are revamping everything for the Olympics in 2012. Once at our hostel we were told we were too early to check in so we ate our lunch, put our back packs in the luggage storage and headed out to explore. The day cleared up petty nice so the walk was enjoyable. We decided we wanted to go inside of Westminster Abbey so thats where we headed. Westminster is the most glamorous abbey I have been in this semester and it is very sad that there were no pictures allowed. There were hundreds of tombs of kings and queens and other famous people in the Abbey. I thought the coolest one was Charles Darwin. After the Abbey we still had plenty of time before Wicked started and the weather was kind of turning ugly so we headed for a pub. We had a round in the bar area and then eventually moved upstairs for some grub. I even managed to snatch my guiness glass before we left.Wicked was so amazing yet again! I love it more and more every time I see it. If I had the opportunity to I would see it everyday. I hope they make it into a movie some day!

The next day started with a trip to Wimbledon. Riley and Sheilagh are both big fans of tennis so they really enjoyed themselves. I also enjoyed myself but I'm not really into tennis. It was a nice long ride on the District line of the underground that we took all the way to the end. Then we enjoyed a nice long walk to the stadium. It was really a beautiful area and the stadium was cool to see from the outside. After our walk around the stadium we enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and then headed back into the heart of London. We were still plenty early for Phantom of the Opera that we would be seeing that afternoon so we decided to walk around the National Gallery in the meantime. Our friend Tiia who is from Finland and was also studying in the Bangor program this semester was also in London and met up with us at that point. The National Gallery was pretty cool and the best part was seeing one of Van Gogh's original paintings. Once it was 2:30 it was show time for Phantom! It was so amazing!!! The things they did with the stage just blew my mind and the acting and singing was perfect. I feel so lucky to have been able to see one of the greatest shows of all time. The show has been running at the Her Majesty the Queen Theatre for the past 25 years. I thought Wicked was amazing but Phantom left me speechless. I love both shows so much, I can't even decide which one I liked better. After the show we decided to do the south side of the river walk like we had done the first time we were in London. Sheilagh had not done the walk before and neither had Tiia. It was a beautiful night and we all really enjoyed ourselves. Sheilagh and I broke down and spent the 18 pounds to ride the London Eye which was spectacular. The Eye is basically this huge ferris wheel and you can see the entirety of the city. The best part of it was seeing Parliament from above.

The next day after checking out of the hostel we headed to Abbey Road to see the Beatles' studio and to walk across the street just like on their album cover. We ended up completely missing the studio the first time and by the time we walked the entire length of Abbey Road we broke down and called one of the girls back in Bangor to ask exactly where it was located. She said it was right at the beginning so we turned around and walked back. When we got to the start of the road we easily saw why we missed it the first time around. The studio was under construction and the outside was completely surrounded by blue scaffolding. Oh well! It was also easy to miss the cross walk because there were tons of them and they all looked exactly the same. After that wild goose chase we headed for another one. We went to King's Cross Station to try and find platform 9 and 3/4 from the Harry Potter books. King's Cross station was also under some major construction so we never actually found it. We were going to ask for directions to it but we were all getting tired of searching. We weren't far from Euston station so we walked there and waited for our train. The ride home was full of cards and we very uneventful. It is sad to think we won't be traveling by train anymore. I love the train system and it's too bad there isn't one in the states.

The next time I blog it will be the last time. Today is my last in Wales and in just a few short hours I will be heading to the airport. I will say it again but it is very hard to believe it's time to go home already. The last couple of days have been full of bittersweet memories and goodbyes. It is so hard to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I have met this semester but hopefully we can all cross paths again someday. I have had a wonderful family of friends here in Wales and i'm going to miss them all so much.

Until next time...


Friday, May 27, 2011

Final Exams

On Thursday I had my first and last exam of the semester. If I was at home I would have been studying all semester to prepare myself for my finals but this semester I didn't do any actual studying until 2 days before my final. I have throughly enjoyed a stress free semester but it is going to suck getting back into the swing of things next semester. If I was at home I also would have had 5 final exams, but I wasn't at home and I'm ok with that. The exam was for ecology and evolution, a class I will never ever use again. Because I will never use this information again it made it even harder to motivate myself to study. I love biology; human biology that is. I could really care less about natural biology. It's not that I don't care about the environment I just don't care about learning about it, and that is exactly what ecology is all about it. It is all about nature and how and why it works the way it does, and evolution, well I will see that all again next year.

All semester I kept telling myself I should start studying but there was something about the laid back feel of the classes that stopped my motivation. Before I knew it, it was two days before my final and I still hadn't started studying. So, on Tuesday I packed my stuff up and headed for the library determined to make myself study. I did manage to go over all 35 front and back pages of my notes and go over my online tests. Another thing that made it hard to study was the amount of information that we had gotten over the course of the semester. We had so many notes and the test was only 40 multiple choice questions. It is hard to study so much information when the questions would be so pin point. So off and on (and more off than on) for the next two days I tried to keep going over my notes to prepare me for something impossible.

As I was walking with my flatmate to the exam we were discussing what it would be like. I said I hoped that there would be at least one question about Darwin because I was sure I could get something about Darwin correct. And to my luck the first question was about Darwin, but guess what I wasn't sure about the answer. Of course the question would be one I didn't know. I was debating over 2 of the choices and picked one but than changed my mind. When you aren't sure on an answer you should always go with your gut, but of course I didn't. When I came back after the test I looked it up and realized my first pick was the correct one. Oh well! The rest of the exam was about like the first question. I was able to narrow most questions down to 2 choices and I had a few that I was sure on. The test was graded on a negative score meaning you get +5 for correct answers and -1 for incorrect answers and there was always a choice of "I don't know" which I chose quite often. It would have been nice to not have negative points because then I could have made a few blind guesses. Oh well, I'm going to hope for the best. I should have had a passing grade going into the test so hopefully I got enough points to get me to a decent grade. I won't find out my grades until the middle of July so i'm going to forget about it for now.

Hard to believe I will be going home a week from tomorrow. This next week should be fun and I'm going to make the  most of it. Today, we went to Chester and it was a lot of fun. Hopefully there will be a lot of celebrating between now and next Saturday because I am completely done with everything and I want to enjoy the freedom!

Until next time...


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nothing too exciting

Well, I don't have anything too exciting to report. I'm down to the last 2 weeks here and I'm just lying low, trying to save what little money I have left so I'm not completely broke when I get home. I have all of my papers and journals written with just one exam to study for. My exam is Thursday so I think I will start studying tomorrow. On Wednesday we walked to the botanical gardens in search of a ship wreck and a waterfall. We wandered around but never found them. It was beautiful so no big deal. Thursday I worked on my paper all day. It shouldn't have taken all day but I got it done none the less. Friday, we drove around with Hannah's flatmate who is from around here. She has a car and was willing to drive us around so we took her up on the offer. It was nice just driving around with friends just hanging out. We revisited a few places on Angelsey and we jammed out to a bunch of music over and over. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed myself. Friday, we ventured to Llandudno Junction for another movie. We went to see the new Pirates movie and we almost didn't get it. The place was packed because it was opening weekend. I love Johnny Depp so it doesn't matter if he makes a crap movie or a great movie, I will love it either way. The movie wasn't his best but I still loved it. After we returned we had a bit of a going away/birthday party. It was the soccer boys' last night here before they headed back home so we had to have a party. One of them was celebrating their birthday so we had to help him out with the celebrations. It was a fun night and its sad to see them go. Crazy how fast our time here has gone but I'm about ready to come home. Today, is a sappy movie day. I watched The Last Song earlier which was actually really good. Now I'm watching Charlie St. Cloud. Any more recommendations?

Until next time...


Monday, May 16, 2011

Penrhyn Castle

Sunday was our last field trip of the semester; so sad to think it was the last. Seems like we just got here and it seems like it was just yesterday we walked into our first castle. It's amazing how many castles we have seen this semester; before coming here I didn't even know there were this many castles out there. Sunday's castle was not like a castle at all except for the look on the outside. The inside was like a ginormous mansion. Everything about the inside was glamorous and extravagant. We couldn't take any pictures on the inside so there is nothing for me to show off. I could go on and on about the detail but that would get boring. We also toured the gardens which were beautiful. I have pictures on facebook posted of many tropical plants that grow there. Because the gardens are so sheltered they have swampy aspects and are perfect for growing tropical plants. There were plants with leafs that were bigger than my whole body, quite crazy! The whole time we were walking around it was raining so that kind of put a damper on the beauty. It also took away from the view, which I'm told is quite spectacular.

Now that the semester is coming to an end, I'm just working on wrapping everything up. I have one final on the 26th that I'm having a really  hard time motivating myself to study for. I haven't had to study all semester so why start now? Hopefully I can make myself study so send some motivation my way! I just finished up the last of my journals for Tecwyn's class so the only bit of writing I have left is my "What is Welshness" paper. Can't believe I will be back home in less than 3 weeks! 

Until next time...


Friday, May 13, 2011

Sad to see it end...

Wednesday morning was different from any other Wednesday morning I have had since I have been here. Normally we head out for OP on Thursdays but this week we were in for a treat and headed out on Wednesday instead. The weather wasn't great come Wednesday morning but it soon cleared up and it was sure to be a beautiful day. We were all in suspense if we were going to get to go sailing because it was the only activity we hadn't done yet but we soon found out it just wasn't going to work. That ended up being ok. I wasn't overly excited to go sailing anyways. What I really wanted to do was give surfing a second try and that was exactly what we got to do, but I will get to that eventually. So this was our last outing for OP and it also included an overnight camping trip. We were in no hurry for the day because we had no deadline, we literally had all day. So instead of doing just surfing we decided to play monkey again, but before we did that we got to say hi to Tuesday's group. They had camped out the night before and were just returning shortly after we arrived at the center. They looked a little worse for the wear, but that happens after a full day of surfing and then a night of sleeping on the ground. They said they had a ton of fun surfing and camping was fun too. They left the tents up so at least we wouldn't have to do that part, everything would be ready for us when we got there.

I just missed!
So, back to the monkey part. If you remember, the very first OP day we played around in the trees on the high and low ropes courses and we did the trapeze jump. There was another "activity" in the trees that we didn't have time to do that day so we decided to give it a try. It is called Jacob's Ladder and it is basically a huge ladder made out of logs and wires. Each log consistently gets further from the next one as you travel higher and high with the first two being about 3 feet apart. You work in teams of three, with 3 people climbing and 3 people on the ground belaying the climbers. I wasn't too crazy about giving it a try but I wasn't going to pass it up either, so we clipped in and headed toward the sky. The couple of logs were easy and we were able to get up independently of each other. By about the third one we had to start working out a plan of action to get to the next. We helped Melissa get up first and then I went up second, Melissa helping from above and Lauren helping from below. Melissa and I then pulled Lauren up. This worked well for one or two logs but eventually the logs got too far apart for this method to work. Lauren is very monkey like and was able to help herself up more than I was able to so it ended up working just fine. We helped Melissa get up and then I would go and then Lauren would grab on with her arms and then legs and we would help pull her up as much as possible. Eventually I just got too exhausted and too scared to go any higher. We were only 2 from the top but I couldn't possibly get any higher. It was terrifying being up there balancing on logs. I knew that if I fell I would be just fine because I was attached to the rope but the terror overcame me. I couldn't go on, but I was ok with that, I climbed really high and gave it my all. After everyone had there go on the ladder we decided to give the trapeze jump another try. I was so close to getting it the last time and I was pretty determined to get it this time. I guess I needed a little more determination or a little less fear. I think, if it is possible, I have developed a fear of heights these past 11 activities. I remember coming into the high ropes course at the beginning of the semester fearless and now I get scared on every heights activity. By the time I climbed to the little platform I had a hard time letting go of the tree and edging myself to the end. I eventually talked myself into and jumped. I touched the trapeze again but not enough to grab it. It wasn’t being on the platform that got me worked up, it was the getting there. If I could avoid the climbing part I think I would be fine.

That ended up being the end of the high ropes course. We took forever on the ladder so we decided to get into the wet suits and head for the sea. As always, it was great fun getting into the wet suits; that is one thing I won’t miss about OP. We got everything packed up for surfing and for camping and headed out. The first beach we stopped at didn’t have good waves so we continued down the road to the next one. Llion told us the waves at that beach were as good as they were going to get so we headed out. The waves were bigger and coming in faster than the first time we surfed and I was ok with that. It was also about 50 degrees warmer and the water felt much better too. It was actually rather refreshing in the water. I was so excited, there was nothing that was going to bring me down this time. Since we already knew what we were doing we just jumped right in. More or less we just kind of ended up playing around in the waves. The guys had really good luck with standing up early. Some of the waves were perfect but I never seemed to be on my board at the right time. It was ok I was having a great time just playing in the water either way. I did manage to ride a few waves in on my stomach and I even got to my keens a few times. My arms were just exhausted from the morning’s activity and from all the paddling. The key to surfing is to paddle before the wave gets to you so every time one is close you have to paddle paddle paddle! After doing that a few times, and finally catching a wave, I wouldn’t have enough strength to push myself up onto the board. But I sure had fun trying! I gave it my all and I will have to give it a go the next time I have the opportunity to do so!

For the last time, we got to change in the parking lot and thankfully there were showers at the campsite. At least we didn’t have to stay full of salt and sand over night. It was nice having the camp site set up for us when we got there. All we had to do was put our sleeping bags in the tent and start the grills. We lit the coals, showered and then started all the yummy food. On Tuesday, Riley and I bought supplies for the night and we were 100% sure no one would go hungry! We had a feast including homemade chocolate chunk cookies, hot dogs, hamburgers and enough potatoes to feed an army. I cut up potatoes for an hour the night before just to make sure we would have enough. We took turns grilling and eventually, just like I suspected, everyone was stuffed. There was plenty of food to go around. The best part about the campsite was the fact that it was just a short walk away from a cute little pub. What more could you ask for? A day of surfing, grilling and then a pub to relax in. It was bound to be a great night! We had a couple of rounds and then headed back to the camp site for s’mores, ghost stories and games. It was a great night of bonding with the group. I was so exhausted after the day’s activities that I thought I would fall fast asleep but it didn’t work out quite as planned. It took me forever to fall asleep, probably because I’m spoiled and I don’t like to sleep on the ground. Oh well, it was worth it after the awesome day we had!

The next morning we were cooked out of our tents around 8; the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day! We packed up and headed home. We cleaned up and put everything away and then reminisced about the whole semester. It is really crazy how fast it went by. It feels like just yesterday we were putting on the purple suits for the first time! OP was on of the greatest opportunities I have had since I’ve been here! I can’t wait to try all of these activities again someday!

Until next time…


Monday, May 9, 2011

Last Norman Castle and the Welsh Mountain Zoo

It's hard to believe that I have been here for 4 months already and I have less than a month left before it is time to head back to Iowa. It seems like just yesterday I was scared out of my mind walking off that plane in Manchester. It also seems like just yesterday when we headed to our first of many castles. The first castle we visited was Caenarfon and it was absolutely breathtaking. We do have one field trip left next week, and it does involve a castle, but not a Norman castle; it's a modern castle (but I will talk about that after I visit it). Anyways, I have visited more castles than most native Welsh people ever have or will visit in just one semester.

The last Norman castle we visited this semester was also the one that was closest to us. On Sunday we visited the town of Conway that has one of the most beautiful castles out there. The town also has one of the only still intact medieval town walls. We started our tour of the city by walking almost completely around the town walls. It was super cool towering over the city on the walls. You could see for miles in every direction from every point of the wall; great line of defense back in the day. Once we arrived at the castle there was plenty of exploring to be done. We went in search of the well and the dungeon that Tecwyn told us were must sees. Having a well inside the castle walls was also a great line of defense and was also quite uncommon for that time in history. Having a water source inside the castle would allow the people inside it to hold out longer against attackers. The well had to be quite deep to be reliable so that was cool to see. It took us awhile to actually find the dungeon but in the mean time we climbed the towers and walked the walls. From the towers the castle on the inside was amazing. All of the other castles we have been too have just been wide open for the most part on the inisde, but no this one. This one had all sorts of chambers and sections; very unique! Once we found the dungeon it was easy to see why it would be feared. Once in it, there was really no way out. The only way in was through a trap door, so you didn't want to be someone who wound up in there because there was no way you were getting out.

After Conway we headed to Colwyn Bay to visit the Welsh Mountain Zoo. I haven't been to a zoo in many years so this was quite the treat. There is something about being at a zoo that makes me feel like a kid. Of course the Welsh Mountain Zoo was no San Diego Zoo or any other major city zoo, but it was still pretty cool. When we first pulled in the first animal we saw off the right left was a big old brown bear. I'm sure they strategically placed the bear right at the entrance to get everyone excited, and hey it worked! Some of my other favorite attractions had to be the reptile house, the sea lions and top of the list would have to bee the tigers. We even got to see a bird show that included a penguin march. After the bird show there was a sea lion training but we had to leave, I was super sad. One of the best parts about zoos are their play grounds. We got to mess around on the slides and the tire swings and the obstacle courses.

So this week I'm working on a lab report and some journals. Other than that all I have is a final on the 26th. So from here on out I should be able to take it easy... haha hard to take it any easier than I already have these past few months, but I will try ;o)

Until next time...