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Hiking Little Orme and Afternoon Tea

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 @ 06:32 pm from Wales Wales
Day 28

For my last full day in Llandudno I wanted to do another hike. Since I had already hiked the Great Orme, hiked to Conwy and walked the promenade countless times, all that was remaining was Little Orme. Little Orme is the mountain that rises 463ft from the east side of Llandudno and provides some great views of the surrounding area.

The day started off fine with a 2 mile walk to the start of the trail. I swung by the grocery to pick up some stuff for lunch before hand too. By the time I got to the start of the trail, it was warming up pretty quickly. I had to take my undershirt off so it wouldn't get drenched with sweat.

The hike to the peak only took a few minutes and when I got to the top it started pouring down rain for a good 5 minutes. Since there wasn't anywhere to get shelter, I just stood there waiting for it to end. I could see that the cloud wasn't very big and that it would pass soon. It did and when the rain stopped the views were incredible.

The rain shower had taken all of the haze out of the air and I was left with some outstanding views of the surrounding area. Soon after it stopped raining I was joined by 5 other people. They were staying down on the beach and made a phone call to some of their friends to come out and try to spot them at the top. I joined in waiving around and eventually they were found.

I sat down on some rocks and had lunch and then started talking with a husband and wife who were part of that group. We talked about where I'd been, where I was from and some areas they suggested visiting. When we left, they took one route and I took another. Apparently theirs was rather difficult and I ended up meeting them at the bottom. We got to talking some more and they invited me back to their place for some tea and biscuits (cookies). I couldn't decline so I followed them to the place they were staying at.

It was two families that were staying there, all friends who had rented the place out for the week. They made some tea and we all sat outside on the back yard overlooking both the Great and Little Orme as well as the beach and town of Llandudno. They had a killer view!

One of the guys was a motorcyclist and was blown away when I told him about how much sun we have in the southwest. They were also saying how much of a fluke this nice weather has been. When the tea and biscuits were done I thanked them and headed back to the hostel to plan the next few days.

After seeing the pictures of Snowdonia from a fellow traveler I knew I wanted to go see it for myself. I found a hostel at the base of some of the hiking trails and booked it for two nights. I'll take buses to get there tomorrow, relax, catch up on some work and get to bed early. Then on Friday I'll wake up bright and early and start hiking. If I take the trails I want to, I'm looking at about 17 miles of hiking so I want to start as early as possible.

Snowdon Peak in Snowdonia National Park is 1,084 meters (3,560ft) high and is the highest mountain in Wales. There's only a 20% chance of rain for Friday so I'll bring my jacket and some layers just to be on the safe side. It looks like there's a grocery in town too so I'll pack some snacks and lunch. If the weather holds out, the views will be incredible!
Teaser photo
Stones stacked on the beach
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Llandudno from Little Orme
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The family that invited me over for tea
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Some clouds rolling in

Mental Recharge Day on the Beach

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 @ 08:02 pm from Wales Wales
Day 27

I've found that throwing a "do nothing" day in every once in a while helps keep me sane. Constantly being in new places and exploring new sites and walking tens of miles all over cities can be exhausting both mentally and physically. I took advantage of the spotty weather today and walked around the beach, read on the beach and had lunch by the beach.

It rained a little bit which was fine since I was under a shelter. After the spots of rain would come through the sun would break out for a bit or some fog would roll in over the mountains and coast.

After lunch I went by Sainsbury's and got a couple cups of fresh fruit and some cider and made my way back to the beach. I was eating some pineapples when I got shit on by a bird. That stuff was impossible to get out. I ended up taking my shirt off and washing it in the ocean, but then I was left with a drenched cotton shirt in a super humid environment so I just carried it around the rest of the day.

I read by the beach until about 5:30 when I started to get hungry. I went to the grocery and got some tomato basil soup and some bread then came back to the hostel and ate that with a cider.

Since then I've done about an hour and a half of work and answering emails. I'll probably go take a shower in a little while and try to figure out what I'm going to do tomorrow. I think I might go hike the mountain on the east end of the beach if the weather holds out.

Coasts, Ski Hills, Summits and Castles

Monday, July 22, 2013 @ 08:28 pm from Wales Wales
Day 26

When I got into town yesterday and saw how amazing the scenery was, I knew I had to spend today covering as much of it on foot as possible. When I was checking it last night, the weather was looking pretty sketchy for today (70% chance of rain and thunderstorms) so I decided I'd get an early start and try to cover as much ground as possible before any rain hit.

I made a quick stop by Sainsbury's to pick up some bread and ham for lunch and then set out for the Great Orme mountain to the west side of Llandudno. There was a little confusion about where the trail actually started but eventually I figured it out. I worked my way up past a ski area (yes, they actually have a ski area here!) and up to some amazing views. Along the way I passed by St. Tudno's Church that has a huge cemetery overlooking the ocean.

From there, the summit of Great Orme was visible and a pretty dauntingly steep climb, but I powered through and went straight up the grassy side without relying on any switchbacks. The views from the top were great. Unfortunately it was rather hazy so I couldn't see too far, but on clear days you can see the Isle of Man 57 miles off the coast.

I'd take haze over rain though. It was about 9:45 now and the skies still looked pretty good. The storms they were calling for weren't making themselves apparent yet. Seeing Conwy in the distance got me thinking... It's only 4 miles (as the crow flies) to Conwy and the castle/city walls. Should I go for it?

Yes, the answer was yes. I could see a hike along the beach that would take me all the way to Conwy. That was reassuring since walking along the roads here seems like a death trap. There's no shoulder at all and what they have as a two lane road should really be a one-way. I'm still amazed at how there aren't more accidents.

While I was descending the mountain to the beach I passed a group of goats grazing along the cliff faces. I snapped some photos and carried on. When I made it to the beach I found some shaded benches and sat there for a bit to eat lunch and enjoy some views of the Wales coastline.

The walk from Llandudno to Conwy was nice. There was a nice path that switched between sand, pavement and gravel. It was about 5 miles along this path to Conwy. After rounding a bend along the path I could see Conwy across the harbor. The castle was on the left and the old town on the right. Surrounding Conwy are the old town walls that you can hike along.

There were some really great viewpoints of the castle from the path and road so I had fun taking some photos. I went up to see how much admission was and it was 5.60 pounds... a little more than I wanted to pay. Instead I found the city wall and hiked around that. I think the city wall offered better views than the crowded castle would have anyway.

By now I was probably about 8 or 9 miles into the hike and was feeling the heat and humidity from the day. I figured it was probably time to head back to Llandudno so I made my way along the beachfront path back to town. When I got back to town I bought some fresh fruit and enjoyed it by the beach. It was about 2:30 by now so I came back to the hostel to shower. Along the way I passed by a book shop offering some cheap books so I picked up a new book for 2 pounds. I figure that will give me something to do tomorrow when I'm bumming it around the beach.

The shower felt fantastic, especially since I had my hiking pants on since I thought it was supposed to be colder and rainy. Turns out the rain never came so I headed down to the beach to read and relax for a few hours until I was ready for dinner.

For dinner I picked up some chow mein noodles from the grocery and came back to the hostel to heat it up. I enjoyed it with a cider and some bread before sitting down to answer emails and work on this blog post.

If tomorrow is another day like today, I think I'm going to head down to the beach and relax there. My legs got a pretty good workout today so a relaxing day wouldn't be too bad.

I've been constantly amazed by Llandudno and how chill of a city it is. If the weather was consistently good like it has been lately, it would definitely be on the top of my places to recommend people visit on vacation.
Teaser photo
Hiking up the Great Orme
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St. Tudnos Church
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Hello Goats
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Conwy Castle

The Lovely Beach Town of Llandudno

Sunday, July 21, 2013 @ 09:37 pm from Wales Wales
Day 25

Today was another long travel day. Eric had to be on his train to London by 8:30am and my bus departed York at 10:30am. I had an exciting day of 7 hours on buses and two bus changes ahead of me. My first destination was Leeds where I changed buses to head to Manchester. Once in Manchester I jumped on the Bangor, Wales bus that ran by my destination of Llandudno.

I didn't really know too much about Llandudno before booking my hostel and bus tickets other than the fact that it was on the water, had some really good hiking areas and there was an old castle all within a few miles of town. When the bus rolled into town I was amazed. This seems like the place that all seaside resorts in the States were modeled after. You've got the huge promenade where people are strolling or sitting and eating ice cream, then you have the seaside resorts, B&B's and restaurants on the other side of the street.

There's also a big hill/mountain/cliff on the west end of town that has hotels and buildings climbing its face. This is going to be my destination for tomorrow (assuming the weather holds out. The weather is calling for 70% chance of rain unfortunately). The area is filled with hiking trails but there's also a tram and cable car for those less inclined to hiking.

Once I got into town I checked into my hostel (I'm the only one in an 8 person dorm tonight!) then set about finding some dinner and enjoying the awesome weather. I had a really filling meal of mashed potatoes, roast beef, carrots, peas, stuffing, fried potatoes and bread. All of that was only 6.99 which is amazingly cheap for the amount of food (and how good it tasted!).

Being sufficiently stuffed I thought it would be a good idea to walk it off. I started off toward the pier and walked to the end of it for some nice photos of the entire town's waterfront (check out some of the panoramas in the photo gallery linked below). I didn't feel like that was enough of a walk so I walked the entire length of the promenade, enjoying the people watching and great weather. At one point the Llandudno band was playing some tunes to a large crowd right on the promenade. It was a really nice sight.

Unfortunately most of my day was spent on the buses so I came back to the hostel around 8:45pm to answer some emails and write this blog post. I'm going to try to get an early start tomorrow to beat some of the rain and clouds. We'll see how that goes!
Teaser photo
Llandudno Promenade
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Llandudno pier
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Llandudno from Llandudno pier
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Llandudno Promenade
St Andrews Old Course. #europetrip2013
Low tide for the run today. #newquay #europetrip2013
Churros y chocolate. #valencia #churros #chocolate #europetrip2013
More adventures in street food. A fried dough filled with a honey syrup and then dipped in sugar. #europetrip2013 #tangier
Vondelpark. #amsterdam #europetrip2013
What I love about Rome. Middle of a busy intersection? Roman ruins. #rome #europetrip2013
Astrological clock in Pragues old square. #prague #europetrip2013
Belgian flag at the arc de triomphe. #brussels #europetrip2013
Banksy. Mild Mild West. #banksy #bristol #europetrip2013
Old and new. #birmingham #europetrip2013

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Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.

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