16 July 2017

Wales by rail.

I'd previously visited Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England, and I wanted to see the fourth part of the United Kingdom.
Based in Llandudno, I spent a pleasant week exploring northern Wales. Highlights were:

● Castles: Conwy and Caernarfon
● Special railways:
  ○ Snowden Mountain Railway
  ○ Welsh Mountain Railway
  ○ Ffestiniog Railway
● Beautiful confections:
 ○ Portmeirion
 ○ Bodnant Gardens
 ○ Llandudno's Victorian waterfront

Conwy Castle (top) and Caernarfon Castle (bottom)
Both big castles were built over 700 years ago and were major fortifications as England expanded its rule over Wales.

Left is David Lloyd George (only UK Prime Minister from Wales) who pushed the launch of the British welfare state; right with my funny, cool Conwy guide who had a nice thick Manchester accent.

With perfect weather, the most beautiful train ride was the two-hour trip on the old Welsh Highlands Railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog.
I believe this shot is from the Ffestiniog Railway journey from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Wales is famous for providing the coal that fueled the Industrial Revolution. Northern Wales also had some of the world's largest slate quarries and there is still some slate production today. See above.

Longest place name in the UK and one of the longest in the world:
Click here to listen to its correct pronunciation.

Fantasy and whimsy at Portmeirion ~ Disney meets Italy in Wales?
Decades ago a wealthy Welsh architect packed Italian styles into an imaginative, over-the-top tourist village with hotels, galleries, and restaurants. (Predates Disney but it has a Disneyland quality about it.) 

Enormous Bodnant Gardens were nice to explore on a sunny afternoon.

Llandudno's long waterfront seems transported intact from the Victorian era, no tawdry t-shirt shops, tattoo parlors, or McDonald's here. It said to be the largest holiday resort in Wales. I added a few days to just relax in Llandudno before going on to Liverpool.