Wales – Hiking Snowdon, almost.

We woke up to a grey morning, on top of the windy hill where we had parked the previous evening. Even though the weather had been harsh in the night, our caravan had kept us nicely warm and dry. The cold air outside came as a bit of a shock once we opened the door.

The rain was looming around several corners, and we were planning on staying off of the mountain cliffs. Instead we were looking some options to take our way to valleys and hillsides. We had a small book with us with short walks which guided us to the small town of Beddgelert.

To get to Beddgelert we drove a short and pretty road trip down from the highlands to lush green valleys and up a river to reach this small, very very Welsh town.  Despite the slight drizzle the town managed to be very charming, lying there, surrounded by hills and green nature. We walked through it to get onto our hike further up the river, towards Llyn Dinas.

It was a relaxed stroll, we got to enjoy the serene lakeside scenery before starting to tackle the small uphill back towards the town. Up on the hillside there were some old copper mines, which intrigued us so, that we lost the trail. In our defense I must add, that the book we were following was not too clear in its descriptions…  Nevertheless we found some industrial history to enjoy at the mines and eventually had a wonderful walk and didn’t even end up too far from Beddgelert. As an added bonus, while we were approaching the village, we met some locals, who led us into some folklore.

The name of the town means Grave of Gelert, Gelert was a brave dog that got killed by its owner, a Welsh Prince. As the prince came home, he found blood on the cradle of his baby, so he came to the conclusion that the poor hound had killed the child. The prince then took to killing the dog and only moments later found the baby alive and a dead wolf in his house. The grave is now somewhat famous attraction, though Wikipedia is somewhat skeptical about the truth to this story.

The day was coming to an end, and we started moving towards our hike of the next day. Waffle was really, really looking forward to it, since we were aiming to climb up the Mt Snowdon. The Park4Night -app found us a sheltered parking spot near the town of Llanberis, and we were happy to plant our caravan there, under some maple tress. We figured it would be best to set off early the following morning, to beat the heaviest rush of hikers, so we set alarms at 8 and decided to be at the foot of the hill around 9.

The morning came and soon it was evident that starting the hike at 9 am was inevitably too late. The great weather and the fact that it was a Saturday had lured tons of people out of their homes. Every single parking spot on a 2 km radius from start of the hike was taken. To me, the steady stream of people making their way up the most famous peak in the whole of Wales was not so very inviting.

We parked somewhere, waay down the road. Waffle was mortified. We were browsing through the map, desperately trying to find a manageable way up. We were both slightly ill and massively out of shape so options were limited. Plus the idea of reaching the peak only to find 200 other tourists there, was putting me off.

Eventually, after vigorous browsing of the map, we had to give up. We were not going to climb Snowdon, not this time. Instead we locked our gazes to another mountain; Glyder Fawr, which is pretty close to the Tryfan, which we did for the starters.

It was not the spectacular peak we would have gotten with Snowdon, but a beautiful stroll nevertheless. We aimed for the ridge from Ogwen cottage, walked past the Llyn Idwal resting under the cliffs of Glyder Fawr. The trail is easy to walk on all the way to the top of the cliffs. And over there, the scenery is breathtaking. Turned out, we kind of got the Snowdon experience after all, since it is the neighboring peak, we got to enjoy the view over it. It was quite amusing actually, to see the steam train running up and down and the lines of people as black dots climbing the ridges.

The peak itself of the Glyder Fawr was very pleasing to climb. It is rugged with sharp rocks pointing to all different directions, a sight, not quite from this world. We scrambled up the peaks diligently and wandered forward on the ridge, until it came to a sudden, plummeting end. Our way down to the saddle between Gluder Fawr and Tryfan was probably the most strenuous part of this hike. The steep descent took the trail among  rocks and loose sand, and we were sliding and rolling the rocks ahead of us all the time.

It was slow advancing but eventually we were down the hill and rejoined with our little caravan. We had met some Wales dwelling Spanish people earlier and rejoined them too at the parking. We shared food and drinks, as a descent hiker does with another. And stories.

Our holiday came soon to an end. We drove away from the hills of Wales, camped in a forest full off bluebells somewhere in Luton. All hail park4night -app! In the early Sunday afternoon we plowed our way to the boat, through France and into Belgium. Monday would be there all too soon with work to do.

Luton, Bluebells, England

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Corners in the World – So Far

I am now rather useless with my right hand being all packaged up. I can read, write, make a cold lunch and wonder around endlessly. Time does not go especially fast when you spend it like that. It rather lingers and pokes weird areas in you brain.  Today I was reading a book (Katja Kettu, Surujenkerääjä) side by the Scheldt that runs by Rupelmonde. Funny that river, you can see the time passing as the docs screech and whine with the tide pushing them up or down. There is also this a yellow buoy that bounces and turns with the currents. I don’t know, somehow it catches my eye every now and then. It has the ability to make my mind wonder, so I let it wonder, and let you suffer the consequences.

Today, I was thinking all the places I have seen so far, all the places that have left memories behind. So here you have it, the travel destinations I would not mind returning to, maybe they are part of your journey too, or will enter it somewhere in the future.

Finland, that sometimes cold and dark corner on the edge of the world came to my mind first. Probably for obvious reasons; my roots are there and a big part of my heart is there. I like the mentality of the Finns, I like the food, love the nature and miss the sauna. As well as the sense of peace and serenity. The “Lake district” is, to me, dear above all others.

One place I have feelings for (sorry Waffle) is the northern France. There is our favorite buggy beach. A third home for us, in some ways. There I have done quite some learning and had some of the happiest moments in a good while. There is of course more to northern France than Les Hemmes. I am very fond of the nature and the landscape of the area, it has a flow to it. It calms me down and the waving fields of grain makes me feel like home. The white cliffs are there and you can see England with a bit of luck, I like it. Normandy is great too! And as we are talking about France, there are the Vosges, containing the first ever mountain I climbed on the Christmas day, 2014. As well as plenty of wild blueberries in the late summer!

Mm, speaking of England, well, Great Britain. Which part of the island do I like best? That is a tough call. The first encounter of its wonders we had in the Lake District, with fairy tale valleys and soft hills, and views to the sea. Scotland, of course Scotland. It is just a magical place with the lochs and mountains. More touristic though. And the latest conquest, being a small part of Wales. The best thing about Wales is the fact that it is so compact, you know. Right next to mountains you have the seaside. Wild ponies were a definite bonus.

The place that left the strongest memories was probably Mt. Olympus in Greece. The hike up Olympus was probably the heaviest I have done so far. We were in a bit of a tight squeeze with time, so we hiked the whole mountain up (almost) and came down the half way. That process caused quite some pain, my heart was complaining and Waffles hair was full of icicles. The following morning brought us the most beautiful sunrise with clouds beneath our feet as well as the best breakfast ever, partially because we were hungry as wolves. The suffering and the amazing reward after it just got stuck to our heads, and it is now turning more and more golden!

Can’t leave without mentioning Montenegro. That country, with is mountains, gorges, people and culture just blew our minds. It really is a pearl, still a little bit hidden from mass tourism. And it just is magnificently beautiful. Go there.

I think that is enough? So maybe something about the future plans. The first thing we are going to do, is to travel to Romanian mountains in a few weeks. We found ridiculously cheap tickets with Ryanair, from Weeze to Timisoara, bit more than 12 euros for the two of us, there and back. I love living in Belgium. By the way, if you have already been there, we are very happy to hear your tips and suggestions on where to go and what to see!

 

Which places have left their mark on you? Where would you love to return, or the opposite, where would you not go to ever again?

Back home from London

Hi there! It so happens that I visited London, again, with a friend of mine. I am back home now. So you will be facing the misery of my posting of the happenings in that remarkable city!

On Friday I left the office, for good, and headed for Brussels South to find a train that would take me to the other side of the Channel. I was feeling great! The next Monday would not take me back to office. Nor the Tuesday. Instead I would be relaxing at home, chilling and having me time. Lovely! I was missing Waffle though, this weekend was the first one I spent separated from him since I moved to Belgium. So great things were happening in my life. Mainly I hoped that he would not burn the house down while I was away!

The train sliced through the undulating countryside of Belgium and France, dived under the channel and dropped me off at St. Pancras in London. It was a nice realization, that I apparently live about 2 hours away from there! Someone had forgotten their piano at the station as I walked out of the train. And someone had taken upon themselves to play it. I always have the feeling of walking through a TV series while I am in London. Thanks to everyone talking perfect English, I guess. Add the piano to that, well, it is a funnily wholesome experience! (The song was this one, if I am not completely mistaken)

Never the less, I dived down into the underground and started navigating my way towards Hoxton and our apartment, my first go at Airbnb! It was on a small, peaceful street and equipped with nice hosts. My friend Ana, coming from Finland arrived a little later. We got ready and hit the down town, aiming for our reserved table in the City Social -restaurant. Rather good food that was, although the atmosphere in the place was not quite what I was hoping for, but the view is nice!

That was our Friday, we climbed off the bus, got to our apartment and fell asleep. Good rest was needed for Saturday, since we had plenty of streets to explore. Somehow I see London as a really welcoming place to be such a big city. Normally I do not feel too good in metropolises like that. Saturday was the day of the “Must see” things in the down town London. We grabbed some discount theater tickets, English breakfast and strolled around Westminster abbey, Big Ben and all that stuff as well as staring some fine artwork in the National gallery and the so very important visit to a travel book store.

The air was cooling down fast and we started to find our way to the theater to watch the play called The Maids. Which was our compromise between timing and and money. We would have liked to see either The play that goes wrong or the Wicked musical, but myeah, this was what we ended up with. It did not quite live up to the expectation, but still managed to be entertaining, so not such a bad choice after all.

Sunday came, nice and sunny at that, so we decided to keep outdoors. Luckily there was a flower market in Hoxton, not too far from our apartment. The market is held on a narrow street sided with stores. It was easy to find, since out of there was coming a steady stream of people with all sorts of bouquets in their hands. The street itself was perfumed by the sent of thousands of flowers, lavender being the dominant tone, and of course crammed people. We managed to find a pathway between the flower stands and the boutiques, popping in and out of them when ever we saw something interesting.

Rest of the day was spent around Primrose hill, and for the evening we went to back to the shore of Thames, to enjoy the view and some food. Both of us were leaving the city early on Monday morning, so we were not feeling too much like spending the late night out in the city, although many pubs did seem very cosy and welcoming.

Monday came and took me back to St. Pancras and into the bullet train towards mainland and home. Weather was absolutely beautiful and I ended up walking the last stretch home. Rupelmonde can be rather beautiful when you approach it from the river side in sun light. I felt relaxed and ready face the new found freedom from working life. Waffle was still at work and the house was eerily silent and calm, just the pigeons cooing on our roof.

 

I still am liking UK very much. Next time the direction is most likely north of Wales. Snowdonia and such.