Here, There Be Dragons [Aberystwyth, Wales]

by - September 07, 2014

 "England is a light grey. Wales is a much darker grey."
 This is how my guide, otherwise known as fy nghariad (Welsh: 'my love'), introduced to me the country I would soon fall in love with. What should have been a four hour drive from the lovely English village he lives in to the town of Aberystwyth, the birthplace of his parents, got longer and longer with every photo (and sometimes coffee) stop I asked to make.

 In reality, Wales is far from just grey skies, strong winds and rain. It's green - the green you'll find on wood elves' clothing and, for a more modern analogy, the grass 'on the other side'. It's hills and flower fields, it's small cottages guarded by statuettes of red dragons, it's the smell of salt water in the air and it's... a surprisingly large number of sheep. Dragons need to eat too, I guess.
 The more we looked at the (very) strong wind blowing outside, the more inviting the small house became, but we still spent our days and evenings exploring. We dodged our way through the bigger streets of Aberystwyth and snuck around the small alleys. The town is mostly known for its university, so various memes were beckoning us into shops and hairdressers and the American Horror Story font was abused in many a café.
The view from Constitution hill - taken by fy nghariad.
Aberystwyth castle.
Nant-y-moch, as seen through my camera lense
Nant-y-moch, as seen through fy nghariad's lense
Nant-y-moch wasn't the only time wound in Wales.
A very confused slow worm.
In memoriam of a glowing soul.
By far my new favourite shop of all time.
Standing in the middle of the road for a picture.

 Adding to the purity of our surroundings, our dreams were shaded in pastel pink and mint and visited by the forest dwellers, dwarves, giants, fairies, imps, dragons and lost boys and girls from children's fairy tales. These were the prominent motifs in the home of fy nghariad's nan, where we would stay. Aside from no hotel fees to pay, this meant home-cooked meals to enjoy, embarrassing baby pictures to share and at least one cat to warm our laps and hearts.

 We skipped a few traditions, such as walking along the mile long promenade to kick the fence bars at both ends, but we did have chips and curry in the car by the seaside (I was told this is absolutely necessary to do when in Aber). Of course, we couldn't escape from our own tourist nature and did go around the University of Aberystwyth, the remains of Aberystwyth castle and climb up Constitution hill in the evening to admire the view. On very clear days you can see Ireland on the other side of the Irish sea, if you know what to look for.

 Moving on outside of Aber, we made our way to Nant-y-moch - a reservoir holding back water cold enough to freeze time. If only it could reverse it decades back so I could see fy nghariad's father drag race a Mini Cooper down the crossing barely wide enough for one car. Instead, we ended up sucked back into our childhoods, when we'd play tag on the streets in front of our homes with no regard to our safety or that of the items we carried with us.

 Well okay, I overdid it. We did watch over our cameras and we haven't even shared our childhood (though the differences between his and mine are minor). But the wind seemed to like rippling the water beneath us in slow motion. In contrast, Devil's Bridge Falls, our next destination, fast forwarded down the mountain slope. We only got a glimpse of it, standing on one of the three bridges, before being sent home by heavy rain.

 Finally, a few collective highlights from Aberystwyth, before heading back to England, conveniently splitting the trip into two posts.

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  1. Do you know any other Welsh words ? If you have learnt any Welsh, can you tell us is it a difficult language compared to other foreign language(s) you speak ?
    What was the the thing that surprised you most there ( except the sheep :P) ?

    1. Apart from fy nghariad (mentioned above), I know myfanwy means "little loved one", Cymry is actually Wales and Cymraeg is the language. Oh, and I know araf, which means "slow" - it's written on the roads everywhere. It seems like a very difficult language to me and it has letters I have yet to pronounce properly.
      I've made a bet with my significant other that I will learn Welsh before he learns Bulgarian. x)

  2. And who do you think will win it ?

    1. I'm betting on myself, but you never really know!

  3. have you ever made a bet with him and won before ?