It’s amazing how only a short 3 hour drive away from London and I’m transported to surroundings of age old castles, seaside resorts, different languages and a type of hospitality rarely found while walking down the high streets of the big city. While Wales has never been top of my list of places to visit, I was motivated to venture there when, while renewing my UK visa, I was left passport-less and in desperate need of a weekend away. Thus began my road trip to Wales, starting in Swansea, working my way up the coast and seaside towns of Aberaeron and Aberystwyth, driving through the scenic Snowdonia National Park, and ending triumphantly at Conwy Castle.
With the help of a cute Welshman with a fine taste in music as my trusty companion, I was lucky enough to get a first hand taste of the country with visits to grandparents houses, traditional ice cream shops, pub crawls and castles. If one thing stood out, it was the culture. The traditions are so beautifully encapsulated in the manicured, proud gardens, the families at the seaside, and the castles standing tall, protecting old cobbled stoned streets and gift shops. This was strangely intertwined, however, with pockets of country music and line dancing, corner kebab shops and high streets boasting the newest fashionable supermarkets, fast food chains, and clothing stores.
So, with a lot of countries I’ve visited, I appreciate the beauty, history and culture that abounds, highlighted with stories and experiences of my travels. But there always lies that worry. That worry that just like that, it can all go so quickly. I hope that in 10, 20, or even 30 years time on my next trip to Wales, that same beauty will remain. Much the same as I hope all countries, including surrounding England, Scotland and Ireland keep their old world charm and grace. If only to continue to make Americans like me, very very jealous.