Thursday, May 26, 2011
1. We were met with many scoffs by the English at our trips to smaller towns, even big cities, in the UK with a "why would you want to come here?" This reminded me of all those Iowans who see visitors coming to visit our much younger state, and while I'm not comparing the two (it can't be done), I believe we don't understand or appreciate the inherent value of the places from which we come. Evidentally, even the English can turn a blind eye to their interesting history. Hopefully, all of us can see that we come from something important, regardless of size, and notice that that place means something to someone.
2. The English love their sugar...oh, my! I'm going to miss my scones with clotted cream, jam, and a pot of earl grey tea with milk and sugar, but I think my blood sugar will be better off after leaving the country.
3. The English (and the Welsh) value older architecture and historic monuments on a national level, and I think Americans could take note. It has been wonderful to be surrounded by this much history (at times, overwhelming, but nonetheless valuable).
4. I was hesitant at first regarding the cuisine, but I've taken every opportunity to try new foods and eat A LOT, and I don't regret it. I think I've walked most of it off :)
5. I've learned a lot about castles and cathedrals, and feel that I could appreciate more history classes on the topic. I especially enjoyed the cathedrals.
6. Finally, I'd like to come back with my family and experience more.
That's all for this trip. Hopefully, more adventures to come.
Talking to people in the hostel lounge areas also gave me the same opportunity to meet other travelers. All of the different sites that we have visited have been spectacular in their own way. I have really enjoyed walking through all of the different castles, cathedrals, and abbeys and learning about their history. Even though we visited a lot of castles, cathedrals, and abbeys each place had something new that the others did not. I have really enjoyed the different walking tours that we have taken through the different towns. I wish we had this kind of history back in the States. I am going to miss all of the train rides we took and all of the fun card games we played on them. I have also met some interesting people on these train rides. I am also going to miss the ocean views from Tenby and Wells-next-to-the-Sea. They were so beautiful. I am glad I got to try different types of food that I most likely would not have eaten if it were not for part of this course. I have met some wonderful people along the way and now have a lot of new friendships that I will take with me back to the States. I am going to take away some great memories and fantastic photographs of England and Wales.
Some other sites have also created great memories. One that stands out the most is York Minster. It was the first cathedral we went to in the beginning of the month and by far my favorite. All the cathedrals stood out in their own way but York had a little bit of everything. That may be because I’m a little biased to York. It was my favorite city that we stayed in; however, Tenby and Wells-Next-to-the-Sea are close contenders in my top cities to stay in. I was also so excited to go into Wales because I have a really close friend who is Welsh and very proud of it. I was very happy to tell her I found something from Wales for her.
Although I’m not a history major, I took away a lot of history from this trip and find myself to be a little more cultured. I have my classmates and Dr. L to thank for that. Without such a great group it would have been impossible to experience as much as I did. That will be one of the things I will miss the most.
Well today is my last full day in England. I am just as excited to leave and finally sleep in my bed as I was to come and sleep all over this glorious country. I have had such a great time with Dr.L and the other people who made this trip a blast. I can't believe it's been a month though. Where did all of the time go?
I am so happy I took this opportunity! I learned a lot and happy to be here to soak it all in. Between seeing the York Minster to seeing Big Ben on my last free day in London, I saw a lot. What I am taking home from this are the fun memories of all these places and the fun memories I made with these new friends of mine. Just walking around the cities and towns gave me memories. Also what I am taking home is the proof I actually went to these places because instead of throwing away my bus pass and train pass I want to bring them as great souvenirs.
I can not wait to get home and see my family and friends and share all of my pictures and stories of what I did over here in England and Wales.
Well that's it for me.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I think my favorite days were my free days because I went into London and Cardiff, but for the class, I think it was just about anywhere in Wales. There was just something about that country that loved. I really hope that one day I can come back and see more, and maybe get an accent because I wont be around as many Americans that go around, but it was a great time had by all, I think.
So ta, from the UK. Hope to one day return.
From spending so much time over in England there are a few things that I will miss. The first thing is how every thing seems to be stuck in time and is so peaceful. There is no rushing around and everything moves at its own pace. The other thing that I will miss is how well the public transportation works. I loved being able to ride around on a train and see the countryside. From a history stand point I will miss being surround my hundreds of years of history. This course change my ideas of different history ideas. The first being that castle were just fortress of wars and not living spaces. The other idea about cathedrals which I learned was false was that cathedrals were painted many colors and not just boring stone as the appear today. Overall this course gave be a great idea about how there is much more to history that just reading books and if you truly want to study history you must get out and see it in really life.
I would have to say the things I will take with me are the memories made upon this trip. From talking with the locals to frisbee in the park, they all hold a special place in my memories. I think though that the most favorite thing on the entire trip (and yes, history is repeating) is the chance to hold the hawk. Oh, and the experiences at Tenby and Bath. Those were my two most favorite cities because of the location and the structure/layout of those cities. Tenby because I have discovered this love for the ocean even though the only other time I had been there was in Barbados and Bath because of the city look without the feel of the city. Meaning it didn't seem to be overly crowded for the size of city it was. Being a country girl, I have very little enjoyment for a city and surprisingly, I could see myself living in Bath for a couple of years.
Though I do love both England and Wales, I find myself looking forward to going home. I miss my family and friends and wish to see them again, hopefully before the ash cloud decides to ruin our return home. This was my longest time from home seeing as my other trips had only been for about two weeks and with other family members I might add. So this was an experience and adventure for me and one I will walk away from with knowledge gained and memories treasured. If you ever get a chance to venture into the lovely landscape of the United Kingdom, don't pass it up because you will find that it is totally worth it.
This is KC (Kaitlyn) signing out one last time. This be the end of May Term for me and the end of my Junior year. Bring on Senior year!!
It is incredibly difficult for me to pinpoint my favorite part of the trip so I’m going to break it into a few categories. The award for my favorite cathedral has to be Ely. Yes, I know I’m biased in this one due to my research, but I was blown away. First of all I loved the octagon tower. In my mind it was a blessing in disguise that the Norman tower collapsed and the octagon tower replaced it. Secondly, I loved all the stained glass. The majority of the glass has been redone and the color is amazing. Finally, the outer structure shows its dominance over the town. It was built upon a hill so looking up at the cathedral as you walk up gives the illusion of a grander structure.
My favorite castle would have to be Caernarfon Castle. The castle is massive and the multiple towers fit well into my stereotypical mindset of what a castle should look like. This place also had a great view of the straight that runs through the town and the nearby channel. The castle definitely served its purpose of protecting the immigrating English from the native Welsh.
What I will remember the most is that each cathedral and castle has their own style. Some castles were built as a symbol of dominance over an area, while others are simply a fortified manor house such as the castle in Craven Arms. While all cathedrals are built as a place to worship, the style of architecture is quite different. In fact the nave of cathedral was originally used as a meeting place, which I found quite interesting. We have seen all sorts of different styles from Norman with their rounded arches, to Early English Gothic which was a slightly pointed arch, to the Gothic style with their pointed arches and their flying buttress which helped distribute weight more effectively.
The experiences I have had over the past month have broadened my horizons and perspectives. This trip has made me realize that England is a place that I love to travel to. I love the landscape, and the people that I have encountered. Finally, I have come to realize how lucky we are to live in an area where we have space to roam. Everything here is placed right next to each other. It makes it easier for us to travel but as a guy who lived on a rural Iowa farm, I miss my space and having a yard. As much as I have loved my stay in England, this trip has made me realize how much I love the comforts of home.
I think that my favorite places were the halls and homes that were refurnished to what they might have looked like in the Middle Ages. It wes really interesting for me to learn how people lived thier day to day lives back then. I thought these places were especially interesting becauase it was like stepping back in time and we learned small things about life that we would not have learned at a big castle, such as the way the residents of the home would eat dinner together.
The thing I think that I will miss the most about being here is the slower pace of life. In the U.S. people always seem to be rushing around in the morning, but here people move slower. The mornings start slower and more calmly. There is a lot less traffic because most people take the public transport (another thing that I will really miss about this country). I don't know if I'm ready to go back to busy mornings rushing to work yet.
I will definitely miss all of the history that is everywhere here. I love how in the middle of a modern shopping street there might be centuries old buildings chalk full of history. There is nothing like that in Iowa.
When I first got here, everything was new and different. But now after being here for a while I've started to see a lot of similarities to home and the enchantment of being in a different country has worn off. This trip has helped me see how life everywhere is really simialar.
I've loved going on this trip and I definitely wouldn't trade it for anything.
It is almost impossible for me to narrow down my favorite sights we visited. Every one had unique features that made me want to spend all day there. Climbing the towers at Conwy Castle allowed me to see far out to the see. Visiting Ely Cathedral and looking at the octagonal tower reminded me how amazing these people were at engineering without all of our current technology. Exploring Stonehenge and Avebury circles took me back in time. Every sight had something beautiful to offer me.
There are several things I will miss when I return to the US. I think the primary one is scones with jam and clotted cream (best food in the world and I recommend everyone try one if they have the opportunity). Another thing I will miss is the countryside. The scenery varies so much across the country. Finally, being able to use pubic transportation and get anywhere in a couple of hours is an aspect of England I really admire and want in the US.
My experiences on this trip have opened my eyes to what other people think. I encountered several people who thought we were crazy for wanting to come to England. Yet, people were so happy that we were here visiting and being part of their country. Talking to different people while out and about has shown me that everyone has opinions and thoughts to share that can broaden my outlook on things.
This trip has been a great chance for me to learn and explore history. I love traveling and look forward to doing more of it in the future. I also cannot wait to get home though and start my next adventure. See everyone soon.
I think my favorite spot that I experienced while on this trip is most all of the cathedrals but the best one was the first one we visited, the York Minster. It just shocked me how large it was and how ornate the artwork was. I have literally never been so shocked by something in my life. It is an experience I will never forget.
The course and trip didn't really change my attitude on cathedrals at all but it did change my perception on English culture. I had it built up in my head that the people would be very proper and such but in all actuality, they are just like us, especially people of our age group. The sense of style is also very fun to look at as it seems everyone has their own.
I will certainly miss the group dymanic that we all formed over the course of the month. Very few of us knew each other and it was exciting to see how everyone seemed to some together and make friends with people that had rarely spoken to, if ever. We all had a fun time going out together at night and getting to know each other and I hope I continue to stay in contact with many new friends I made on this journey.
The one thing I am "going to take with me" is something that Dr.L tried to instill in us from day one and that is taking our time during meals and enjoy our food and the conversation. Apparantly, it is a very American thing to rush through meals and just eat for the sake of eating. In many other countries, including this one, meals are meant to be enjoyed with others and are a time for conversation and company.
I loved so many things here and I plan to take many experiences and memories with me for the rest of my life.
I gained a lot of knowledge through visiting the different sites. After hearing about how castles were used, and the different architecture for the castles and cathedrals, it was impressive to finally see it firsthand. Exploring the towers for both locations brought a new perspective on the buildings and their surrounding areas. With castles, we were able to see the land area, and how that location was a prime spot for these defensive buildings. With the cathedrals, we were able to see the surrounding land and cities that helped bring wealth into the church community.
It was really interesting for me to see the different styles of architecture within the structures we visited as well. At first, I didn’t really understand how much of a difference the arches in the cathedrals really had. Seeing the arches definitely changed my mind, and gave me a new outlook on the styling.
I have to admit, my favourite part of this trip was probably visiting Stonehenge and Avebury. These stone circles were so incredible to me. I was taken aback by the size of the stones used in them, and the fact that people had to make these structures without any type of mechanical equipment that we have today. They were incredibly wonderful to me, and hearing the stories around them was so intriguing.
Another thing that I learned – I CAN live out of a backpack for a month! I definitely had to downsize for this trip, but it wasn’t a bad thing for me. I have also never stayed in a hostel before, so it was quite the interesting experience for me. I didn’t really think it was too different than the dorms at school though! At times it was frustrating to not have immediate internet access, or the ability to call a friend up, but I quickly got over that. Being away from the ‘luxuries’ of home really helped me appreciate my surroundings this month. It was simply wonderful to actually immerse myself in this culture. It is definitely an experience that I will never forget.
I hope everyone reading this enjoyed hearing of our adventures; I know we sure loved being here!
Then, after a very nice lunch (I had the barbeque chicken) we were all off to have a tour that Kevin was to lead at Norwich Cathedral. There was only one problem: the cathdral was closed due to the filming of a movie! So, Kevin was forced to give his tour from the outside.
The Cathedral was built and finished in the 12th century. It is the home of the second largest spire in England, second only to Salisbury Cathedral. The inside is home to a staue dedicated to Julian of Norwich who was a mystic in meidival times. She was a hermit in a small parish church where she wrote a historic piece on faith which earned her sainthood.
Also, a big defining feature is the large stone circles in the cloiseter, dedicated to the new millenium.
After the tour, we headed back to Cambridge and had a free afternoon.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Our day started off with a nice hot English breakfast at the youth hostel in Cambridge. After everyone was packed up, we loaded our entire luggage in to the back of the coach for the stops along our way to Wells next to the sea. The first leg of our trip was full of traffic as there was a car crash on the route to Norwich and the traffic was being diverted to the route we were taking. After riding the coach for about an hour we arrived at Castle Acre Priory which was our first stop. While Dr. L got us tickets the rest of the class played with the black cat named Cookie who loved attention. The priory was very large and what was left of the church was quite large. The gatehouse and the private rooms for the prior which were above the gatehouse were the only structures standing.
Getting back into the coach we drove to King's Lynn which is a small fishing town on the coast. While in King's Lynn we got a tour about the town and were told about the important buildings and their history. The town had gained great wealth in the trade with main land Europe. This trade provided the money to build many large trade guilds and house that date back to before the 1500's. The church which is in the middle of the town is large as the town was support greatly by the King and this was a royal church. After the discovery of America the town lost much of its wealth as the trade routes now were on the western seaboard instead of the eastern. Interestingly two town people made great names for the self’s in John Smith and George Vancouver did so in the New World. After eating lunch we left for our next stop which was Castle Rising Castle.
Castle Rising Castle had large outer earth works to protect it from invaders. The interesting feature was the large keep which was the only building in the castle complex. The keep is the largest in England. While we were at the castle we took a whole lot of pictures as a group. Upon leaving the castle we travel to Wells next to the Sea. The day ended with the class going up to a local park to hang out.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
We met up with our guide, Mary, for the walking tour at three and had a wonderful tour of Cambridge for about two hours. We started off in the market place and Mary told us about how many of the streets got their names from what used to be sold there. The market has been there for hundreds of years and still runs every day.
Mary showed us a pub called The Eagle, which has a few cool stories. One story is of a child who haunts the upstairs rooms. The child died in one of the rooms and it is said that it haunts the room unless the window is left open and its soul can escape. Even to this day, it is written in the lease that window must be left open at all times, no matter the weather. So, Mary says that even in the pouring rain, snow, or sleet, that window is always found open.
Another interesting thing about The Eagle is that the American soldiers during World War II used to be regulars there. We know this because they left their mark all over the ceiling of one of the rooms. They took lipstick and drew or wrote on the ceiling and burned it in with their cigarette lighters. Some wrote their names, while others drew pictures. It is a very interesting room. A group of us later discovered that this pub has very good “pub grub”, and I would recommend it if you ever find yourself hungry in Cambridge.
Mary took us to see some of the colleges of Cambridge University. There are thirty-one colleges in the Cambridge University. They are all separate and independent colleges, but the students all belong to Cambridge University and meet together to go to lectures and exams.
Since it is exam time here in Cambridge, most of the campuses are closed to the public. A few are open though and we spent the most amount of time at St. Johns College where Mary showed us some interesting places. We got to see the first court, chapel, three different stages of libraries, the dining hall, and other courtyards. The college is large and impressively old. It’s not what we think of as Americans as a college. There are courtyards where you are not allowed on the grass, historic buildings, rivers with people punting, and it’s all very charming.
After the tour we were given the rest of the night to explore, go to dinner, and relax at the hostel. After a long day of travel and tours everyone is keeping it pretty low key tonight. That is, the girls are anyway. The boys somehow always find more energy and are burning it off at the park, throwing a Frisbee.
That’s all for now.
Friday, May 20, 2011
First we started off with by traveling to Salisbury! Once there we took a bus to Old Sarum. This was the location of many things but the main reason we went to see it was because it was the previous site of Salisbury Cathedral before it was moved to its present location in 1217. It was moved because water was hard to get to and the elements were too harsh on the building. The old church no longer stands because a lot of the stone were taken and used in the building of the new cathedral.
We then took a bus back to Salisbury and Matt took us on a lovely tour of the cathedral. The inside of this cathedral was different from all the others because the screen between the Choir and Nave was removed in the 1700s. Also the architectural details throughout the entire cathedral is very detailed and taken into account. Even the pillars lining the side aisles are more beautiful then what we have seen in other cathedrals of its time. After Matt gave his tour we gathered and ventured to see one of four remaining copies of the Manga Carta! We didn’t have to go far because it is held in the chapter house of the cathedral! It was really cool to see a document that inspired so many other documents, even The Declaration of Independence!
After seeing something so cool it was hard to believe that we weren’t done yet! Next we had to climb the tallest spire in England!! The spire stands at 404 ft! We climbed 332 stairs and still weren’t half way to the tallest point. It was pretty easy because we took it in stages. It was so worth it because the views are always the best from the top!
We then took a train back to Bath where we split up for dinner and regrouped again at nine to go see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides! It was such a good movie and a great bonding experience. We didn’t get back until around 1 am so we went to bed as soon as we got back.
Well Readers, until my final post,
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
After we left Lacock on the mini bus drove by the all so comical Chris, and he took us to Castle Combe which was honest to god one street maybe. If I remember correctly Chris said there was around 200 people in that small town which took me by surprise. He took us to the market place, which is basically the whole town because in the 17th century it was one of the largest market areas in England. He showed us the Cross area which had a ceiling type structure that if you were to sell here and it were raining you were capable to sell under the cross. The one thing about it was you had to be honest because you are selling under a cross.
He shortly after that showed us a tour through the cathedral there, sadly I know it's bad of me, I do not remember the name of it. But it had two different times where it was worked on, one was the nave and the alter, and the other part was more modern but still super old but it was the clock tower but there was no clock. The funny thing was the clock was inside of the place but it was only able to ring at curtain times instead of every hour.
Well once we got back to Bath, it was up to us to do anything until dinner which we met back in the YMCA lounge as a group to leave as a group. We were lead by Dr. L to the restaurant called Wagamama which was pretty awesome food. We ate for about an hour to an hour and a half and came back to the YMCA. Not long after we got back three of us went to the Royal Crescent and threw the frisbe a little more. Which that leads me right here typing this message to you readers.
Thanks for reading!
On May 16th we left Tenby. Early that morning we enjoyed our final breakfast at the Southcliff Hotel, where Pam, Brian, and their staff where so friendly and helpful. The class is very appreciative of our time there. Then we boarded our first train for the day at the station. We traveled to Swansea, where we switched trains. Another hour on the train landed the class in Cardiff, and we finally got on the last train. Finally, after about 5 hours of traveling, we were in Bath.
From the train station, we carried all our luggage to the YMCA. (There was only a slight incline on this trip.) After checking in, Dr. L. provided us with a list for our scavenger hunt. It included: The Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, Parade Gardens, and the Roman Baths. The class broke into three groups, took a map, and set out to visit and photograph these places.
At the Roman Baths, the class saw the actual baths that were established while the Romans occupied Bath. We toured the museum and saw the foundations of the worship building that was on the site.
After the scavenger hunt, the class gathered to eat a nice dinner at Jamie's Italian restaurant. The class enjoyed appetizers, various pasta dishes, and amazing desserts. Finally, after a long day of traveling and exploring, people headed off to bed.
It was a busy day, but we are looking forward to the upcoming week, which includes Stonehenge, some Harry Potter sites, and more castles and cathedrals. Talk to everyone soon.
Next, we visited Shrewsbury Abbey, founded in 1083, which was featured in a popular book series in the 70's and 80's. It began as a Benedictine Abbey and through the actions of Henry VIII, it became a part of the Church of England. According to site information, its Chapter House held one of the first democratic parliaments in England. We saw the shrine to St. Winefride, a martyr for the Christian faith. It was very nice, not as impressive as some we have seen, but there were a lot of interesting memorials and grave sites.
At this point, we split into groups to scavenge for several sites and eat lunch. A small group of us ate at a local Italian chain. Melinda and I indulged in olives and calamari, and we all enjoyed pasta, pizza, and sugary desserts.
Our first site after lunch was St. Chad's, which houses a fake tombstone for Ebenezer Scrooge, featured in the 90's version (NOT Muppets) of the Christmas Carol. The inside arrangement reminded me of an East Coast Church, the choir was circular and the pews outlined in circular fashion. Afterwords, we crossed the street and enjoyed the Dingle, a lovely garden with fountains and beautiful flowers. Although it was cold and windy, the atmosphere was fantastic. We explored a few streets and spots before heading back to Leominster. I found a French shop and bought my first Le Creuset stoneware piece, a small baking dish called a coquette used for small casseroles, soups, and souffles. We also found a super hero-themed coffee shop and another Appy Feet chain (where several group members were treated to a spa day by special fish).
We all had a fabulous time exploring the city and look forward to our free day tomorrow. More from others later...
Monday, May 16, 2011
While at Lamphey’s Bishop’s Palace we noticed similarities between the Bishop’s Palace we saw the day before. This makes sense since this was the Bishop’s summer home and they we designed by the same people. Both places were extravagant in their architecture and design for their time period. The ruins of both still show some of those wonders and signs of power and wealth. They both had similar features like archways and the coloring of the stone that was used in the construction of the building. The open courtyard was also beautiful to look at but I’m guessing the flowers were not always there. Like most of the places we have been to the group explored the remaining buildings and some of us even tossed the Frisbee around a little bit.
The drive to the palace was very tight and narrow and we feared the coach wouldn’t be able to turn around but Bob being the awesome bus driver that he is made it happen by the time we were done and ready to go. After that we rode to Manobier Castle which was very well landscaped with tons of beautiful flowers and ivy growing all over the place. We did another self tour going through the buildings and reading about each room’s purpose and function. They had wax figures in some parts of the castle which freaked some people out because they weren’t expecting them at all. Climbing the towers was fun as always and we saw some of the best views of the sea. We took a group picture then decided to head back to Tenby since it was our last night there in Wales. We then broke off into smaller groups to go get dinner. Amanda and I then walked along the beach and picked up some sea shells. The views were absolutely amazing!! At 7:15 we regrouped to have a Lord of the Rings marathon since two of our members (Amanda and Nicole) have never seen them before! We made it through 2 out of 3 of the movies and plan on watching the third before we come back to the states!
Cheers for now!
What a way to start off any day than to take a walk through the countryside. Our adventure begins at Carew Cross which was a stone cross made in the eleven hundreds. I cannot remember who the cross was made for but it was made after the death of a man who was the co-king of Wales. Dr.L gave us a quick run down of the cross and the castle behind it. It was said that the man who built the castle married into the family who the cross was made for and the lands in which the castle sits on was the woman's inheritance upon marriage.
We admired the structure of the castle with the mixture of medieval architecture and Tudors architecture. It was impressive to hear how they placed the square windows into already stone-built castles. Dr.L believes that the stones were chipped away until the already constructed windows could fit.
Tidal pool was very pretty in the morning even though the water was down and we could see what the water left behind. Tom had the best description: "Bleck!" I believe the trail which we walked was about a half mile around the pool which included rocky paths, paved trails, bridges over damns and road walking.
Our next destination was Pembroke Castle located, yes in Pembroke. It was the castle where Henry the VII was born. It was a fairly large structure with lots of open area. All the towers housed either storage or living quarters. Across from the gatehouse were several buildings including the dungeon... and a spooky cave-like structure with a lot of pigeons. Courtney now understands Taylor's fear of birds.
It was Pembroke Castle where we stopped and had lunch. Personally, I had a toasted Ham and Cheese sandwich which was amazing! Oh, and can't forget the "Fancy" Hot Chocolate. :D
There are still two more places we explored but at this point, I will be turning it over to Matt to host you through the next two locations we visited today. Tah-Tah for now!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Today was our first morning at Southcliff Hotel in Tenby and boy did we all enjoy the breakfast here. It was everything and more than you would expect from a B&B. We put in our food requests the night before and also had a choice of cold things in the morning.
So after a lovely breakfast we got on the coach at 9:15 with our driver Bob, who was from east London, to go to St. Davids, the smallest city in Britain. There we saw the Bishop's Palace, one of two, this one was his winter one. And then we went right next door and saw St. David's Cathedral, it was one of the smaller cathedrals we've seen so far, but it was very interesting as it was built in a valley rather than on top of the hill, and due to the marsh type land, the cathedral is now starting to lean, they are currently working to add support so that it does not fall apart. We were also allowed to see the treasury exhibit they have. There wasn't much but what they did have was very pretty and gold of course. They had staff tops, gold cups and the cloak that the bishop would wear.
After a bit of exploring we ate at the refectory, where we all tried new things, or at least new mustard's and jams on sandwiches. When we were done eating we were going to take a walk around town, but we lost the sun and the wind got cold, so we headed back to the coach, but made a stop at a chocolate/ice cream place where most of us all got something. I had a delicious Raspberry swirl and mint choc chip, and I'm willing to go on record and saw that the Welsh make the BEST ice cream. So we all ate our ice cream while walking up hill to the coach, which on the way there the driving and cleaning smell made a few of us feel a little ill and were thankful to have got there, so no one was looking forward to the ride back. But it turned out the trip back wasn't as bad as we took a different route,and we also learned a fun fact from Bob at the 5 mile point to the cathedral, back when people made pilgrimages to the cathedral, a half loaf of bread marked 5 miles and they would start to get there in strange ways, by crawling, flogging themselves or other weird things.
After we got back we all spilt up to do our own thing, but most of us ended up at the beach for a while before we went for dinner, and that was fun even if it was cold.
Well that's all for this post, have to go brush up on the facts for my castle tomorrow.
Friday, May 13, 2011
I can't believe that we are at the halfway point of our trip. Today was another travel day. We made our way to the southeast back into Wales to Tenby.
Before we arrived at Tenby, we took a pit stop at Kidwelly to see Kidwelly Castle.
We took a three hour train ride to Kidwelly from Leominitser. After we arrived at the train station it was a twenty minute walk up to the castle, with our luggage no less. After the long walk we finally arrived at the castle.
Kidwelly is a 12th century castle placed on top of a hill overlooking the town below. The way the castle was built is genius in its design. The castle was two wards, a inner and outer ward. If an attacker was able to capture the outer ward, the residents of the castle had another line of defense within the inner ward. This meant that the attackers would be in a no man's land kill zone in between the inner and outer ward.
What strike me the most outside of the double curtain walls was the chapel and it's location. The chapel is on the outer flank of the castle walls. The chapel was right above the River Gwendreath which runs right beside it. If needed, the chapel was equipped with arrow slits and could protect the castles flank if needed.
The castle didn't see any major battles so the majority of the castle is still intact. The view from the towers was a great sight to see. After visiting the castle, we took another train to Tenby. Tenby is a town in southern Wales. It is right on the coast of the British Channel. In fact our hotel is about a block away from the beach. Tenby is a small town that seems to be a tourist stop based on the number of hotels within the area. The majority of the shops within the town were closed by the time we arrived but it looks like a nice town for all of us to kick back and enjoy the beach! Tomorrow we are off to St. David's Cathedral. More details tomorrow.
My name is Kevin and I will be your guide for the day that we spent in the Marshes. The Marshes are the borderlands between England and Wales which included the cites of Leominster, Ludlow, and Craven Arms. so after I give you a short guide on what we saw today, the rest of the class will start the second round of post tomorrow.
The start of our day was spent like the rest of the days we spent in Leominster, we got up and caught a train out of Leominster. Breakfast was mostly just toast but some of the students ate cereal which they had bought the day before at the store. Getting on the train we took a short ten minute train ride north to Ludlow were we were to spend most of the day. From the train station we walked through the city centre to the castle. Right in front of the the castle was a local food market which looked very appealing. Since it was right after breakfast we decided to come back to the market after a tour of Ludlow Castle lead by Taylor.
Ludlow castle was founded in the 11th century as a private castle. At some point the castle came in to the hands of the crown and became a royal castle. Ludlow Castle never saw much action in terms of battles but was a very important staging point in the English invasions of Wales. The castle has a large outer bailey that was used for jousting tournaments and as the staging grounds for the solders. The inner bailey was off of the north wall of the outer bailey.The northern range of the inner bailey is done in a Tudor style as that was the last addition done to the castle. The most interesting feature of the castle was the circular nave of the chapel which is like the nave of the chapels used by the Knights Templar. An interesting legend that takes place at Ludlow Castle is the story of two princes, one of whom was to become the king, were killed by Richard III on his way to take the throne. The princes were buried under the stairs to the chapel.
Upon leaving the castle we stopped at the outdoor market and came out with sweets and other food. after a quick walk we went in to St. Laurence Church. St. Laurence is done in a perpendicular style and was built by donations from wealth pardons in the area. Most of the students climbed 200 steps to the top of the tower to get great views of Ludlow. The church also had great carved misecordes for priest to sit on during service. Lunch was at Degrey's cafe where most of the students had light lunches but the really treat was Welsh rarebit which tasted like cheese. After lunch some of the students went to a vintage clothing store were some items were bought but none as amazing as the bowler hat by yours truly (kevin).
After another short train ride over to Cavern Arms and a long walk we arrived at Stoksay Castle. It was more of a large manor house that looked more livable than the other castles we saw. The reason it was called a castle was because of the wall that were surrounding the house. After we made it back to Leominster the rest of the evening was spent playing cards, reading, and soccer. Thank you for letting be me your guide and until next time Cheers.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
We started our day be visiting Conwy Castle. Before we started our tour we ran into some men dressed in medieval clothing carrying three birds. It turns out that two of the birds were Bengal Eagle Owls and the third was a Harris Hawk named Jesse. We learned that the men were dressed as a Knight Templar, a hospitaler, and a Welsh Knight. Some of the people in our group even got to hold the birds! They were promoting the charity of Help for Heroes, which is the equivalent of the wounded warrior program in the United States. These men had taken recently taken part in a reenactment of the 15th century Welsh siege of Conwy Castle. Luckily for us, they are also hired by cities to walk around town because it scares off the pesky seagulls.
Tom gave us a fantastic tour of the Conwy Castle. Turns out that the history of this castle is fairly similar to Caernarfon Castle. Building began in the same year as Caernarfon (1283) headed by King Edward I. Building was basically finished in four years, and at one point there was a total of around 1,500 craftsmen and laborers working on building this castle. Conwy was one of the castles that King Edward I built to help retain power and control around the Snowdonia area. On this castle alone King Edward I initially spent around 15,000 pounds. This is about 9,000,000 pounds today. During the Madog Rebellion, Conwy Castle withstood a six month long siege, but after the Rebellion the castle and town was overtaken for a short period by the Welsh while the King was out of town. When the King returned he took it back.
Conwy Castle has eight large drum round towers separated into two wards that were divided by a massive cross wall. The two wards were essentially two separate fortifications. The inner ward housed the Royal apartments and chapel. The outer ward housed the military garrison quarters, great hall and prison tower. We could climb up to the top of the towers and walk along the walls of the castle where we could take in some very nice views of the water and the town. While at the tip of the chapel tower, a group of us ran into another group of college students from Iowa. They are from Central College and had been studying are abroad since January. What a small world!
We also toured the Aberconwy House and Plas Mawr. The Aberconwy House is the oldest house in Conwy and it dates back to when the castle was built. The house was constructed in a common English design that was not found often in Wales. This house has passed between many owners over the years and was even used as a Temperance Hotel for many years. In the 1930’s it was in danger of being bought by an American and picked up and moved to the United States. By the sale was never completed. Shortly after it was given to the National Trust and can now be toured. The man taking our tickets was fascinating to listen to. He knew many facts about the house and the objects inside, along with a few ghost stories that he and others have experienced at the house.
Plas Mawr was much different. This was a very wealthy family’s home. It is huge and elaborate. Our group had an audio tour through the house, but I still almost got lost because it was so large. Nearly all the rooms were extensively furnished with items that would have been similar to what was originally there. Walking around the house was like stepping back in time.
We had free time to get lunch for the rest of the afternoon. We could walk the city walls, check out charity shops, boutiques, and gift shops, or walk down by the marina, plenty to see and do.
In the evening we caught a bus to the train station and nearly missed our train to Leominster. We even had to run to catch it. This was one of those times that I have been thankful that I Brought a Backpack and not rolling luggage.
We are spending five nights in Leominster.
That’s all for now.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
We also had our first class castle tour (presented by Malynda) at the Caernarfon Castle. I was personally amazed at how it looked as well as its size. Malynda was very helpful in telling us where everything was, and what the different parts of the castle were used for. When we were exploring on our own, many of us found our way up to the tops of the towers. This presented a wonderful view of the surrounding area! It was great fun to explore and find all the little secret passage ways and hidden rooms throughout the castle. We had lovely weather while we were in the castle, and I was surprised to find how quickly the weather had changed from the train ride!
When our castle tour was done, we ate dinner at Tafarn Y Bachgen Ddu (which is Welsh for the Blackboy Inn and Pub), for some lovely local food. It is actually one of the oldest pubs in Wales, which I thought was really cool! After we finished eating, it was back on the bus for another hour long ride back to Conwy. Four of us had left a little earlier than the rest of the group to get a couple things done at the hostel. We had a funny chat with an 8 year old boy on the bus. He asked us if we were American because we spoke "American". He was a comical child, who had quite the conversation about different movies and how he can speak "American" too. It was fun to hear him try to speak with an American accent, as I've never really thought about how we might sound to people from other countries. While riding back we had all seen a lovely rainbow outside. The rest of the group caught a later bus ride back to the hostel. They had gotten kicked off the bus in Bangor for some reason that was never discovered, and had to wait for the next bus to get to their stop before they could return to Conwy. A couple of the group members were complimented on their American accents during that bus ride (and we all love the British accents, what an interesting change of pace!) When we were all back, we had some down time - filled with laundry, cards, and getting caught up on a few things such as our journals.
Overall, I have absolutely loved my time on this trip so far. I've seen and experienced so many different things, it's almost unreal to me. The group is meshing really well, and we've all had a great time thus far!
I hope everyone back home in the states is having a lovely time , and that you've enjoyed keeping up on our travels and experiences!
Friday, May 6, 2011
Today was a busy day for the group. We left York today which was bittersweet for many of us because loved that city so much. Personally it reminded me of Wrigleyville in Chicago because of the pride and history that you could feel while walking down the streets. However, like every good thing, our time there had to end really early in the morning. We took two trains and a bus to a square in Conway. Everything was okay until we saw the hill that we had to climb before the hostel we are staying at for two days. The hill is daunting but it feels so nice when you make it to the top.
After dropping off our luggage we had two options that we could participate in one of two things. I chose to go to the Gardens and get some beautiful pictures throughout this rather large botanic garden. It contained many different varieties of Rhododendrons which were absolutely awe-inspiring. Like much of what we have seen this week you couldn’t help but be amazed by the sites. We walked around the gardens for a few hours then went and got some tea in the tea garden.
Three of the boys decided to go to Beaumaris Castle but got off at the wrong bus stop a town away from where they should have gotten off at (glad I didn’t go with them like I was planning to). The then walked until they found someone to ask what city they were in. So after the confusion cleared they made it to their destination and found the castle to be absolutely wonderful. It was meant to be one of the biggest castles in medieval days but the builders decided to leave after a short time.
We then trucked backed up the hill again and regrouped so we could check in, drop off our luggage in our rooms, and go get food. Before we were able to leave for dinner Dr. L had us try some local cheeses which were actually very good. Eight of us went to a Pub/ Restaurant for dinner where I had my first steak overseas (definitely the same as home). When we finished eating half the group took a cab up to the hostel while Taylor, Tom, Matt, and I went a Pub then came back and sat with everyone to relax for a little bit.
That was our day for today and now we are exhausted and going to bed for another early morning.
Cheers from Wales!
Thursday, May 5, 2011
After taking several pictures we gathered around infront of the nave of the Abbey and listened to Amanda give a lovely presentation. We learned from her speech that there were 13 monks that lived at this massive Abbey along with the Lay Brothers. The Lay Brothers lived on the West side of the Abbey and the monks lived on the East side. It's ok because this place was massive beyond believe. I would place a picture on here for you but I honestly left my cord to make my computer and camera one at home.. woops. Fountains Abbey wasn't just a big old building, it had a huge fountain garden in the back. Hence the name I guess. This was beautiful by the way.
Once we had lunch at the Abbey, we left on the bus and went back to York. We asked to be dropped off at downtown and went around from there. Three of us wanted to go off and find a certain pub to try because we found you could sit and dip your feet in The River Ouse. After having some nachos we left and met up with the rest of the group. After a brief amount of time the group decided as to participate in this shop...place called Appyfeet where you place your bare feet in a tub of small and they eat off the dead skin. A shocking experiment, but fun and I'm happy I did it because before someone talked me into it otherwise I wouldn't have done it. After that it was more me going to another pub with the same group for dinner to get some points for eating "Pub Grub". After we came back and that led to me typing this now.
Thanks for reading :)
Wednesday, May 4, 2011