our first full day was a big'un. we started off nice and early with a full welsh brekky in the b&b before making our way into holyhead to pick up the car we'd booked for the weekend, and heading to penrhyn castle nearby. after about a twenty minute drive into bangor, we had pulled into the grounds of the national trust site, through what was left of the castle's defensive walls, and up a long gravel path. the weather wasn't great. and we dodged rain and hail while wandering the grounds for about an hour before it seemed to clear up a little. still cloudy, we wandered through the walled gardens and celebrated the blue skies off in the distance, and with those early morning hunger slowly setting in, it was time to set off - caernarfon bound.
we arrived in no time and parked up in a big old parking building (i loathe street parking in the uk - the roads are too narrow, and i'm too scared), popped some pennies in the machine, and headed into the village for a wee wander. the bright and pastel coloured buildings instantly jumped out from the grey and cobbled street, putting instant smiles on our faces. not since venice had i seen such pretty little streets, and so it was really sweet to be able to see something so familiar in my own back yard.
the welsh flag and dragon bunting was out in full-force. there wasn't one street to walk down that wasn't proudly promoting the country's mascot, and we revelled in the novelty of it. i do love a bit of bunting, me. we stopped in at a small bakery for a slice of a cake and well-needed diet coke, before headed down to the marina to watch the boats coming and going, catching sight of a boat-dog (he was in a life jacket!), and wandering around (another) the castle walls before heading back to the car. the hour had flown by, and we'd decided that already, caernarfon was a favourite. an hour was not enough, but with an action-packed itinerary to stick to, we couldn't argue.
from caernarfon we headed to porthmadog, where we were hoping to visit the glaslyn estuary and bask in the beauty of the snowdonia ranges, except... we couldn't bloody find them. we'd somehow hit a blackspot when it came to the gps/google maps directions, and we drove around in circles trying to find essentially a range of mountains and a giant body of water. sounds impossible to lose, right? and yet... we drive up a steep street to see if we could get a better view, where we were able to catch a glimpse of some water. we followed our noses and lo and behold - found it! when we got to the estuary though, we heard something off in the distance that got us a lot more excited... the bloody steam train! as soon as we heard it tooting the horn and chugging towards us, we ran from the estuary to the tracks so we could watch it pass by, and we were so bloody happy with ourselves!
i haven't seen a steam train since i was little, so that was definitely a highlight for me. funnily enough, it wouldn't be the last time that weekend that we encountered the train, but after the stress of trying to find those damn mountains, we were giddy with excitement. after falling about laughing at the silliness of it all, we jumped back in the car as it was after 2pm and we had a little ways to drive until our next stop - the one we were the most excited about getting in to, and the one that most definitely closed at 6pm: port meirion. more on that next week.. it needs its own post!