Time for another Throwback Thursday!
Today’s topic is your favorite summer vacation.
That is very, very easy for me.
Mine was an almost-two-month summer “vacation.”
Any one care to venture a guess?
In the summer of 2010, I had the opportunity to go on a study abroad to Wales. We were to learn more of the Welsh language–dysgu Cymraeg, and explore the history of Wales and the rest of Great Britain.
It was the best 2 months I’ve ever had. There is far too much to tell you in one post, so I definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely advise you to check out my short mini-blog on my adventures there: Writing Welsh. When you get to the mini-blog, scroll down on the left-hand side, under the “Foods I’ve Tried in the UK” to see my archive list.
I had studied Welsh for about a year at BYU and decided I wanted to explore England–I had always wanted to go. It was only $2000 with a $1500 plane ticket. Very manageable! I scrimped and I saved, and I was able to go after I finished my sophomore year of college.
The trip to get to Wales was very exciting! There were delays, people to meet up with, a missed connection in Dublin, a ferry ride, and sight-seeing train ride all down Wales entering into Cardiff at midnight on the weekend after a Paul McCartney concert with free beer. Definitely read about it here.
My absolute favorite part was seeing and exploring every inch and crevice of all the old castles. I could just imagine what life was like in these during the medieval times–I had read so many historical fictions. I read many history books about Wales and England earlier that summer and recognized many of the castles we visited. I could literally feel the history. How grand was that! Some we visited were: Chepstow, Rhaglan and Usk Castles, Winchester Castle where the Round Table lies, Cardiff (the capital of Wales) Castle, St. Michael’s and Dover Castle and Edinburgh Castle.
We had many Austin fans in our study abroad. I sadly, hadn’t even read one of Jane Austin’s books by 2010 (I know, it’s despicable!). But, I had seen different variations of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and knew I loved Austin. We saw many sites that related to her books. And…of course there were Harry Potter fans, I being a huge one. J.K. Rowling’s house, many on-sight locations, and of course, Platform 9 3/4 were many of the sights we visited. We visited Tolkein’s boyhood home and came to understand why he wrote Isengard in the way he did–he hated the new mills and factories that “invaded” his village.
We visited many places that were associated with my favorite myth and legend: King Arthur! We explored Tintagel, where Arthur was born and grew up. Under the caste ruins was Merlin’s Cave. What mystery lay there. I imaged that magic really happened there. I could feel the mist of legend and lore throughout the entire city. The air was heavy with it. Of course, there were plenty of pagans and Wiccans there as well, all paying homage to Merlin and Arthur.
We climbed the highest “mountain” in Wales: Snowdon. This was barely 3500 feet, whereas I live in the Rockies, near Mount Timpanogos (11,700 feet) in Utah. It wasn’t a mountain to us, but it was to them. The Welsh take pride in their mountains. If you doubt me, watch the movie: The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain. Legend has it that Merlin grew up in the shadow of Snowdon, also known as Yr Wyddfa. It was a long trek, but a fun one.
We also spent two weeks in 8-hour-a-day immersion classes, studying Welsh grammar, pronunciation, and conversation. Sometimes it was a little intimidating speaking to senior Welshmen who had been speaking Welsh for almost their entire lives and we had only been studying it for less than 2 years! But, they were always very kind and patient, helping to teach us. The question we got the most, though, was why would Americans want to learn Welsh? We also were able to visit the National Eisteddfod, the annual Welsh cultural festival.
We spent two whole days in London. We visited the British Museum, the Museum of London, and the British archives. We traipsed around Westminster Abbey and Parliament. We explored the White Tower and the Tower of London: the jewels, the chopping stone, and the torture tower. We also went to the Globe and watched Henry V Part 2. Then, we missed the last train back to Cardiff, forcing us to spend a night in Paddington Station.
Of course, there was the time that Aer Lingus and Delta lost my luggage when I returned home–a week before I had to go back to Utah for BYU.
It has been a brilliant experience to explore and travel throughout Great Britain. It is hard to believe that it has been 3 years! As you can see in the post, there is great, obvious, logical reason I want to return! Justin just needs some convincing. Please help me!