Friday, April 24, 2009

Conwy

Despite my relative disappointment with what Manchester had to offer, my trip wasn’t a complete let down (and I should clarify--Manchester wasn't terrible, I just didn't love the place). The day the conference ended, I caught a train to northern Wales. My destination was a small town called Conwy. In a guidebook I got from the library when I was planning my trip, I saw Conwy and decided I had to go. In addition to a quaint seaside village enclosed within 700 year old walls, Conwy boasted such kitsch attractions at Teapot World (which I found out on arrival was no longer there) and Britain’s Smallest House.

After a 2 hour train ride to Llandudno Junction and then a short walk, I reached my accommodation. I stayed at Gwynfryn Bed and Breakfast, a bit of a splurge after my hostel experience in Manchester. I stayed in the Olive Room, which was totally cute.

This wasn’t a standard B&B with ugly flowered wallpaper and matching bedspreads. The room had nice touches like a kettle with a variety of hot chocolates, coffees and teas, plus a bowl of lollies, a very comfy bed and a telly. The private bathroom across the hall was equally cute and had rainbow bathrobes for guests to use.

I got in at dinner time, so I headed out for a wander around the town to see what there was to eat. There were a fair few nice restaurants, but since I was travelling alone I opted instead for a takeaway shop where I got a veggie burger with chips.

I ate on the marina, closely watched by a few gigantic seagulls—seriously, these birds are much bigger than their antipodean counterparts.

After filling up, I went for a wander around the decidedly quaint little town as the sun went down. Old churches and the castle, nestled alongside newer (but still old) houses made me very quickly fall in love with Conwy.

That night I got the best sleep I’ve had in a while, and had a really great shower as well (which was more than welcome after the terrible hostel showers). Then I went down for breakfast, which was my first real experience with a traditional English breakfast. I am in awe at how much food people can put down in the morning! My veggie breakfast was (at my request) about half the size of the normal brekky. I had 2 veggie sausages, baked beans, a grilled portabella mushroom, a grilled tomato, a hash brown, toast, tea and juice. It was so good, but I was so stuffed! And the other guests had about twice as much as that.

Suitably packed full of food, I set out to explore Conwy in more depth. I started by climbing up to the top of the town walls for a walk around.

The end of the wall-walk brings you very close to the smallest house in the United Kingdom. It is two storeys tall, but those storeys are fairly small. And the floor space measures 10’ b 4’2”. I paid the £1 to get in, which is probably a bit steep considering how small the place is—obviously there isn’t much to see. But I’m glad I did anyways... how many people can say they’ve been in Britain’s smallest house? Though, despite my attempts to crouch out the door I still smacked my head.

After such a small house, the Conwy Castle was quite a contrast. It was built in the 1200s as part of the attempt by Edward I to conquer the shit out of Wales. The stones are all that is left of the once obviously grand structure—all of the internal buildings are long gone, but you can still see foundations and climb towers (plus there are a few little museum displays on offer).

As you can imagine, the views from the towers were pretty spectacular.

I had lunch at a café nearby the castle which served only fair-trade coffee and tea, and had a good selection of vegan menu items. Even though it was sunny in Wales, and much warmer than Manchester, it was still only about 15 degrees and being outside for long left me very chilly. I warmed up with a soy hot chocolate, fresh bread and a bowl of soup—red pepper, tomato and lentil which also had quinoa in it.

I got a joint ticket to the castle and Plas Mawr. This is a “great mansion” built in 1576 and it has been preserved/restored as an example of Tudor life. This was pretty cool, but my favourite part was easily the “cat door” into the attic.

And with that, my stay in Conwy came to an end. I could have easily spent more time there, and would have willingly stayed in my awesome room for longer, but I had booked a train ticket to Liverpool so I was off. But, if I ever find myself in the UK again, I will be sure to go back to Conwy and stay at the Gwynfryn B&B. Next... Liverpool!

9 comments:

lisa said...

Oh I love Wales, and Conwy castle looks amazing. Last time I was in Wales I was bike touring, it was awesome stopping in at all the little towns and villages along the way. Your post makes me want to go back!

DJ said...

Conwy looks great and it looks nice and sunny! Looking forward to your liverpool report...

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

Conwy sounds like so much fun! I love quaint seaside villages. It looks like you found some great food, too. Did you tell the B&B owners you were vegan before you arrived there?

Glad to see you had such a great time!

VeggieGirl said...

SUCH A BEAUTIFUL CITY!! And I laughed at what you said about most B&B's - they DO have that awful floral wallpaper and bedspread, haha :-D

cristy said...

Hey Theresa

I read your blog through bloglines and for the longest time now I have noticed that place name - ie Manchester, etc seem to just disappear in your feed - meaning that your posts about travel end up full of blank spaces...

I just realised that I should probably let you know about it, in case it is something that you wanted (and knew how to?) fix...

I'm enjoying your UK travel stories, BTW. I have only ever spend 48 hours in London...

Theresa said...

Vegan Snorkeler--one of the reasons I chose Gwynfryn over the other local places was because their website says they can accommodate special dietary requests. I mentioned it in an email ahead of time and got an "of course" style response.

Cristy--thanks for the heads up. That is very strange. If anyone has ideas on how to fix that issue, I would love to hear them because I'm stumped!

Clairey.lou said...

Ahh I'm from Conwy! So glad you loved it!

Vegetation said...

Sorry to hear Manchester wasn't wonderful. Conwy however looks just beautiful. I'm glad you had such a good time there :)

Vaala said...

Wow, Conwy looks so beautiful. The old buildings and castles are amazing. I hope the seagulls didn't manage to steal any of your food though...I had one here steal part of a biscuit right out of my hand once just as I was about to eat it!