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Wales is worth having a look at. It’s b-e-a-utiful! Just wanted to let you know. 😉

I mean, it’s all green, chock-full of castles, and there’s a red dragon in the coat of arms! What’s not to love?

Also, and you wouldn’t get this from just looking at it on a map, it has white sandy beaches! It really does. Look, this is Barmouth (yes, in Wales):

 

And so is this:

Is that a fricken palm tree?

you ask? Why, yes, yes it is! Mind-blowing, no? That’s what I thought too when I went there.

After this initial shock I’ll just leave you with calming, Wales-like pictures of castles, rocks, and the odd happy little stream running through green fields.

HA! Got you with one more! *evil laughter*

Apart from being surprisingly tropical, Wales is lovely and full of beautiful, tragic stories. Like that of Gelert, the beloved dog of Llywelyn (one of the Llywelyns anyway).

The tablet reads:

Gelert’s Grave

In the 13th century Llywelyn prince of North Wales had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went out hunting without Gelert ‘the faithful hound’ who was unaccountably absent. On Llywelyn’s return, the truant stained and smeared with blood joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince, alarmed, hastened to find his son and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yell was answered by a child’s cry. Llywelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed but near by lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The prince, filled with remorse, is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here. The spot is called

Beddgelert.

Sorry for the downer story, but take solace in knowing that it’s been 800 years and Gelert would be dead by now anyway. Sorry. I just have to cover up my own emotional response to the story.

In contrast to the sad story behind the place, the area around Gelert’s Grave is breathtakingly beautiful.

For example, there’s a happy little stream.

By the way, if you’re trying to pronounce any of the Welsh names, just chuck a “th”-sound in there after every vowel and consonant, and you should be fine. Llywelyn is probably pronounced a bit like “Thlewethlyn”. Actually, knowing that “Laoghaire” is pronounced Leary, “Llywelyn” is probably pronounced more like Thwyn. Maybe it’s the Gaelic version of Quinn. Or Schwinn. Intriguing. By the by, Wikipedia suggests [ɬəˈwɛlɨn]. Hope that helps.

Now I admit, I don’t know ANY Gaelic, but the Laoghaire-Leary-part should be accurate. Diana Gabaldon said so.

Look, I taught you something!

Aaaand back to sight-seeing: Wales is full of these charming little stone houses (there are big ones, too)!

I think, but I could be mistaken, that they’re required by law not to build a house further than five metres away from a happy little stream. That’s what it seems like, anyway.

Speaking of streams, did I mention that there are also happy little… roaring waterfalls in Wales? I didn’t? Well, there are. Look:

Hm. Still looks quaint, doesn’t it? That’s the thing about Wales – it’s quaint. Quaint is what it is, and no doubt about it.

Also, it’s full of castles. Had I mentioned that? My favorite of the ones I’ve seen must be Caernarfon (probably pronounced Chuck).

It’s guarded by seagulls, too, which is the main reason for it being my favorite. Also, get this: It’s located in Snowdonia! Doesn’t that sound like a fairytale land right out of a C.S. Lewis novel? (And I was kidding, it’s actually pronounced Caernarvon.)

Of course, it’s no further than five metres away from the sea which, when you think about it, is much the same as a happy little stream. So I might still be right about that law…

Just look at the way the quaint little stone houses snuggle up against that big strong castle wall! Wales really is quaint like it’s going out of style. Wait. I think “quaint” may have been out of style for some time now…

Can’t stand that thought. Moving on.

Now this might sound odd, but it seems like Welsh kings were crowned in heliports in the 13th century. Why else would there be one smack-dab in the middle of Caernarfon Castle?

One of the many, many fun things about Welsh castles is that they let you run around in them fun-and-fancy-free, so you can explore all the nooks and crannies and crumbly ancient stairwells which would SO be fenced off in German castles.

So in Wales, if you’re adventurous and a little bit ditzy, you could try your luck at climbing a stairwell that looks like this:

And you’d probably survive, too. Like I did. So yeah, I’m really glad they let you explore a little bit. Looks like German authorities are much too pwotective of their wittle citizens.

Or maybe it’s just that, in Germany, there aren’t any of these high-impact warning signs available telling the gruesome story of Homer Simpson who hit his head on one of the happy little stone archways…

Visit Wales, when you get a chance! It’s not as boringly quaint as it’s made out to be!

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