We were less ambitious at breakfast the next morning. I knew I couldn’t face another plate of food that spanned the width of my stomach, so I stuck to porridge and fresh fruit. The addition of 3 slices of fruit convinced me that every pint of beer consumed thus far was suddenly justifiable. Balanced diets while traveling > balanced diets while at home.
Today we reluctantly surrendered the only parking spot we’d seen in days in order to take a day trip to Conwy to see the old castle in town. I prepared for the day’s journey down skinny Welsh roads by googling the parking garage ahead of time. Somebody was kind enough to write an actual review of said parking lot, complete with a photo of a seagull standing on top of a car that proved to me that there was plenty of open space to navigate. Overeager reviewers are my people.
Conwy was a quaint little town with an unusual feature–a castle in the center of town and medieval castle walls surrounding the town itself. It was built by King Edward I in the late 1200’s as part of a collection of castles that would protect the English colony during his quest for control of North Wales. We wandered through the preserved castle ruins, up damp and narrow stone staircases and in-and-out of rooms that once held ornately decorated apartments for royals. The old dungeon now had green moss growing up the walls.
After a quick stop at the “smallest house in Wales (rivaling NYC apartments) and a trip back around Katie’s grandparents’ old neighborhood, we were back in Llandudno in time for afternoon tea at our hotel. We found some cushioned seats by the little bar area in the hotel’s front room and dug into elegant plates of fresh scones with clotted cream, Welsh cakes with jam, and sweet pound cakes with lemon curd.
It was a perfect display of traditional sweets and hot tea served in pretty pots. Before long, an elderly gentleman sitting nearby took an interest in our table and invited himself over to join (quite literally, pulling an armchair from across the room and positioning it at our coffee table). Per usual, I was initially taken aback, but I quickly snapped out of it when I remembered where I was. I watched this same congenial man gulp down a half pint of cider at the bar 3 minutes earlier like it was fresh lemon water and boldly declare, “ah, that’s better”. I was just as intrigued by him as he was that we were a couple of girls from New York.
He asked us if we knew what God’s image was. Queue Sara’s nervous laughter. But then he answered his own question with, “Love”. He told us that he believed love is something everybody has, but once you give it away via a good deed or kind gesture, it creates “friendship”. And friendship is the fabric of everything. He then went on to say that he hates politics, but loves people. Every person–black, white, religion of any kind–is inherently worthy and good. He left soon after, ushered by an older lady who insisted (with a smile) that his coach bus had been outside waiting for some time.
“I am busy talking to the young ladies!”
His friendship metaphor stuck with me for some time after. I loved the ideology that a friendly gesture or brief interaction could create a bond. The idea connects us all as people through a concept we usually reserve only for those we know well. Goodness creates fewer strangers. Despite the ugliness that still exists at home and throughout the world, people never stop amazing me.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the town and checking out the long, jutting pier that extends over the water. Most of the food and trinket stands were not yet open for the summer, but we found ourselves unexpectedly entertained by the kids’ arcade. We widdled away more money in claw games and skee-ball, acquiring prize tickets for candy and souvenir magnets, than I spent during my entire trip to Vegas at the slot machines. There is no age limit on fun (I may or may not have been just as tipsy playing skee-ball as I was playing the slots).
That night we had a casual dinner at Cottage Loaf, where I inhaled a fantastic plate of fresh swordfish and pasta with mango curry sauce that sent me into a flavor tailspin.
I can still taste the tangy carbohydrate swirl on my plate and I could never grow tired of all the amazing seafood in town. I was going to have a hard time leaving Llandudno the next day, as I’d grown used to the pleasant waterside walks at night, peaceful ocean lullabies, and welcoming locals.