After a long absence from this blog (note the gap on the right between April 12 and February 13 – loads of stuffs happened in that time btw; but if stuff happens and nobody blogs about it, has it really happened? I might still be able to reconstruct some of it and backdate it), I think it’s time to clean up the spiderwebs here and update the journals a bit.
Easter came late this year, and even then the winter was still having a tight grip all over Europe. Freiburg had been insanely grey, depressing, cold and gloomy for four months straight, and the sun hadn’t been showing any signs of reappearance. It was tiring and made me grumpy almost non-stop. I was looking forward to having a week off over the Easter of course, but wasn’t having high hopes for seeing the sun along that time, as the UK was reporting loads of late snow, killing the sheep in Wales and Scotland. And on top of that it turned out that I would have to fly to Helsinki for some work meetings straight from the vaycay. But anyway, vaycay is vaycay, I grabbed my new book, and packed a suitcase (which had to have work clothes in it, so was very jam packed, and was getting progressively heavier along the trip somehow – objectively verified by all the airport check-ins).
Wednesday 27th March
Train to Frankfurt, flight to Dublin, no special events. In Dublin Iestyn picked me up from the airport and the day got better. Amazingly, there was sun in Dublin! I don’t think I saw Dublin otherwise yet. (It was still very cold though.) At Iestyn’s place, there were loads of pressies waiting for Gina, just because she likes getting pressies – now that’s my kind of man! We went for a lovely dinner in this noodle/sushi place, can’t remember its name. (Yamamori Noodles). Real cheese cake served for dessert! (I have to say this, because here in Germany they have a “cheese cake” that’s not actually a cheesecake, more like quark cake. It’s not bad, especially now that I know what to expect and not get my hopes up, but I still wish they called it something else.)
Thursday 28th March
We got up early, caught a taxi down to the ferry docks, and yes, it was snowing. The sea was calm though and whilst on the way between Dublin and Holyhead we actually started seeing blue skies and sun from our premium window-based seats! Because the wifi was slow, I started playing with my new compact camera, which I brought for the trip, to get familiar with the settings and such. I also made a trip up on the boat deck, which was in the sun, but extremely windy, and there were no white recliners or parasols or anything like that you would expect. It was cold too.
In Holyhead we caught the train to Bangor, and in Bangor the bus to Caernarfon, and in Caernarfon the bus to Groeslon… it was all very very tiring. But at the end we made it and got a bit of rest. Iestyn decided though that he needs a new pair of shoes (he’s a little princess like that), so we headed to Betws-y-Cwwd (or whatevs) for him to get hiking boots in the outdoor store (as his heavy ones are still in the ‘burg, and he wanted a lighter pair anyway). He also got there a new hat, just like my riot red, except his is bittersweet brown. He flirted with the sales guy a little and got a 10% off the shoes – I could learn something here!
As it was Thursday, pub quiz was on, which I was looking forward to, although it was in a whole different place than usual (and by usual I mean when I was last in Wales a couple years back). Neil and Michaela and her friend joined us, and it was fun, except for the picture round which was crap and was not actually a picture round. Unfortunately, they took ages between the quiz and the results, so we gave up and left, and don’t know how we did.
We watched something from bed, I cannot recall exactly what it was, but I totes watched the whole thing until the end.
Friday 29th March
I woke up, despite Iestyn sneakily having pulled down the blinds on the window the night before when I was not looking (I had just closed the curtains), so that no daylight would come in in the morning. It was SUNNY! And I mean proper sunny, with no cwmwl yn yr awyr, complete delight! I jumped up and down on the bed until Iestyn acknowledged the day started, and crawled out of bed to toast us bagels for breakfast. After a hearty breakfast we made tea into our respective thermoses, and set out on a nice hike.
We selected Cnicht, even though it’s a bit overdone (I mean we had been up there several times, we even camped up on the top one New Years a couple years back), but we decided to take the long way down, going up Moelwyn Mawr on the other side of the valley as well, making it a nice full-day walk. About last third up the way on Cnicht we hit the snow, but there was not much wind and the sun kept blasting, so it was a nice stroll. Once we were up on the ridge, the wind actually picked up, and it became unmistakably colder. There was plenty of snow up there, and it had a solid crust of ice over the surface, so once we begun climbing Moelwyn Mawr on the other side, crampons might not have been completely out of place. We didn’t have them, so we just sucked it up, and Iest did the work of blasting trough the ice with every step, so it was quite easy for me to just follow in his path. Eventually we made it on top of Moelwyn Mawr, where the wind was especially strong, freezing and biting mightily, so we didn’t linger for long, and started descending on the other side.
The whole loop back to the car took us about six hours (no rush) but towards the end I was already quite tired, my feet were wet and I was starvatious. It was a good opportunity to go worship Pete in Llanberis, provided he’d be open for business, which we weren’t sure until we got there, but open he was! So we made it two huge hot chocolates with whipped cream for starters and two veggie grills as per usual (not able to finish). At that point I was ready to just take a shower and drop dead in bed, but I mightily managed to watch whatever movie it was that we watched in bed, and didn’t fall asleep prematurely. Uncle buckle (utterly abysmal)!
Saturday 30th March
Sunny again! Could not believe it. Iest was still a bit overwhelmed by the walk of yesterday, so we decided to go to the beach. I wanted to go surfing, so we looked up the webcam surf, which Iest thought was not good enough. I think he would not know a good surf if it bit him in the tushy (mmm, tushy). Anyhoo, we went to Anglesey, because I like Anglesey a lot, it has first class beaches and epic view of the snowy hills.
First we hit Rhosneigr, a nice (if a bit run-down) little surfing town, where we had coffee and crepes (Iest has the “Clown” variety with M&Ms and ice-cream, sometimes I really wonder…), I bought the Guardian, which of course I began reading in the car and got carsick, always happens. But we arrived in Llanddwyn, my fave beach of them all, even if there were quite a few people due to the beautiful weather. It was so epic, we walked around to the lighthouse, around the dunes and the horses, in the sun sun sun… One distressing event cast shadow over the day though, which was the painful discovery that there was no film in my lomokino!
Yes, it happens even to the best of us… Iestyn of course took the opportunity to rub it in my face for the rest of the day (and week), just to make me feel bad and have some laughs at my expense. Not cwl! I miniaturised him in return. But even so, the day at the beach was lovely and fun.
Lovely Indian for dinner.
Sunday 31st March
Sunny again, unbelievable! Decided for Mr. Ellis loop, as we had to be back at some reasonable time for Easter lunch/dinner. The sun in the snow truly was blinding, and given the fact that it was a Sunday, Mr. Ellis was a bit of a tourist highway. But never mind lovely little walk anyway. The stone hideout on the top had a beautiful thick layer of ice on it, and it was cold and windy up there. Beautiful views towards the Snowdon ridge and all around. Went the second valley down from there, and finally saw a cute little oen bach close up enough, all fluffy and confused.
Easter lunch/dinner was yum, and included mushy peas (I took Iestyn’s too), and once again on this vaycay, we overate and topped it up with ice cream.
Monday 1st April
Cloudy but still sunny patches. We decided to go to Chester, which btw is already in England (didn’t know this!). Chester was nice, even if a bit crowded, as it was a holiday and everyone went shopping. I bought a nice top myself and also a couple of dvds (turns out that hmv didn’t actually close all its stores!). Also, I bought Bon Jon Jovi’s greatest hits for the car! Ahh, memories.
Tuesday 2nd April
Already time to go. We found a schedule on the internet of bus and train to get us to the ferry on time, but then we were done packing an hour before time and just went to the bus stop blindly, to see if we can catch an earlier one. Amazingly, one was going in about three minutes to take us to Bangor. In Bangor, the train to Holyhead arrived about five minutes after we bought the tickets, again totally unplanned. With all this, we ended up in Holyhead a long time before our ferry was supposed to leave. It turned out that we could just about catch the earlier one! We just had to pay a bit extra, and run a bit to actually catch it. Given that it was the faster boat (our original tickets were for the slower kind), we were in Dublin hours before originally planned. We spent the rest of the day leisurely in Dublin. Also, I brought awful cough from Wales, which was then haunting me in Helsinki and for more than a week still in Freiburg.
This is the final video from our Easter trip, including sea, mountains and the ferry:
Wednesday 3rd April
Sad, sad day of Gina leaving. Helsinki was pretty as ever (sunny until Saturday when I left!) but I was coughing and lonely.