Caernarfon Castle & Llechwedd Slate Caverns: Day 2

After breakfast at the hotel, I boarded the bus to head to Caernarfon Castle. This castle was built by King Edward I in the late 13th century. In British Studies, I had learned about Edward I’s reign and how he built several castles throughout Wales to exude his dominance over the country. I was looking forward to connecting the information I learned in class to the physical evidence in real life.

Once we arrived at Caernarfon, I found myself seeing a quaint little town nestled near the coast. Our whole group walked to the castle entrance where we were given our tickets and permitted to go inside the castle to explore and learn at our leisure. I headed to one of many entrances and scaled the spiraling staircase to the top of a turret and saw a wonderful view of the town. During my time at the castle, I continued to go up and down the sets of stairs (there were quite a lot) and walked along the wall connecting all parts of the Caernarfon Castle. In the first few areas I went, there was not any information regarding the construction of the castle. As I made my way around, however, there happened to be informational exhibits about the myth behind the castle, Wales’ role in wars throughout history, and the well-known and highly regarded Queen Eleanor of Castile, wife to Edward I. Truly, my photographs do not adequately capture the size of the castle and its maze of passageways and stairways.

After exploring for 1.5-2 hours, I left the castle in search of lunch and to explore the quaint town.

For every country or city I visit, I have been trying to purchase a Christmas ornament. My goal is to have an international Christmas tree in my home that brings about memories of my travels when I put it up each year. However, I do not purchase just any plain ornament from a tacky tourist shop. I seek out local stores that sell ornaments made in the country and made by local artisans (if possible).

The reason I bring up my ornament mission is I happened to find a local shop selling handmade ornaments in Caernarfon. I selected a slate ornament with a red sparkly dragon on the front, which pays homage to the Welsh flag. When I made my purchase, I spoke with the shop owner about the ornament purchases I have previously made during my European travels. Come to find out, his wife had handmade the ornament I purchased and the slate is Welsh. He said himself shopping local in tourist destinations truly makes a difference for the local community. His shop specifically serves as a storefront for 30 different Welsh artisans. With both of my parents being small business owners and self-employed, I found myself relating to his statement. Local purchases make a HUGE impact for families in small towns and tourist destinations. Maybe it seems like I am rambling, but I hope that this little off-tangent blurb will cause you to intentionally seek out local businesses to purchase souvenirs. For me, I have found my ornaments hold a lot more meaning to me because of the care that has been put into each unique piece. Just some food for thought!

Speaking of food, I ended up at a local cafe for lunch with some students and had a falafel sandwich. Absolutely delicious!

A falafel sandwich with some fresh greens! Yum!

After lunch, I boarded the bus again with my cohorts to go to the Llechwedd Slate Caverns for an underground tour. During the tour, we went underground and learned how slate used to be mined in the 1700s-1970s. I saw rickety ladders the workers went up and down, the chains in which the men would wrap around themselves carefully to avoid cutting off circulation, and the tools used for harvesting the slate. Our guide’s father and grandfather both worked in the slate mines. He experienced firsthand the detrimental impact of mining slate on a workers’ health through his family. The tour lasted about 1.5-2 hours and all-in-all was very interesting!

So much slate!

When the slate tour concluded, everyone hopped back onto the bus to head back to Llandudno for the evening where a beautiful sunset greeted us. In the distance, you can vaguely see the offshore windmills working hard to generate power.

Sunset at Llandudno, Wales

Leave a positive impression,

Sydney xo

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