Manchester, Aberystwyth, and Cardiff!

I finished my four week internship on September 12, and on the 14th Katie drove me to the Oxford train station with my stuff to set off on a few more adventures. When I climbed aboard the train en route to Manchester, I was a little surprised to find the thing was packed with people and far too much luggage. Though I had a reserved seat, I couldn’t fit my two bags anywhere near that seat so I chose to stand with a few other people and luggage at the end of the car. For an hour and a half. Smelly and cramped, but not all that bad really. The guy sitting on the floor near me looked like he had a crazy hangover, so I didn’t feel so bad about my slight discomfort.

I spent three nights in Manchester, visiting my friend Vania who’s just starting a Master’s degree in Psychology at the University of Manchester. Nice enough city, but I wouldn’t recommend bothering with it if you’re only going as a tourist with no friends to visit. I only took three photos in four days.

My friends and I like to share a pint or two in Vancouver at the King’s Head on Yew Street in Kitsilano, and I actually went to the King’s Head in Bristol with my boss Fraser a few weeks back, and I thought it appropriate to take a photo of the King’s Arms. Maybe next I’ll find his legs and torso.

This is Vania’s living room, with an excellent couch that unfolds into a big bed. Such a nice flat.

The big, old (built between 1869 and 1871), Catholic Church of The Holy Name of Jesus near the University of Manchester in the centre of the city looks kinda cool but we didn’t go in:

On the 17th I caught a couple of trains to get from Manchester to Aberystwyth on the Irish Sea coast in Mid Wales to visit Will, who was also a volunteer in Cameroon when I was there. He and his flatmate Regan were terrific hosts, giving me a room all to myself and taking me out to some student parties. I didn’t take many photos of that, though, so you’ll have to settle for scenery instead. And believe me, when the weather is good in Aberystwyth, the scenery is quite something.

Someone’s boat and a couple of swans on the River Ystwyth (Aberystwyth = Mouth of the River Ystwyth) a few metres from Will’s flat:

There’s a set of castle ruins in ‘central’ Aberystwyth (it’s a very small place, so the centre of the city is not quite a bustling business district) and I spent a few minutes looking around and over an hour just sitting on a bench among the ruins relaxing in the sun and ocean breeze.

Part of a wall that has clearly tumbled over:

Castle ruins in the foreground, St Michael’s Church on the right, Aberystwyth University “Old College” on the left, Constitution Hill in the background:

As I walked along the promenade overlooking the water, I stopped to look out on the ocean and saw this gull flying overhead. My lens managed to get a fairly good focus just in time for a photo:

Looking North toward Constitution Hill:

I managed to walk to the base of Constitution Hill, and started up the rocky path upward. There’s a neat gravel path that takes a more direct route, but I preferred to take the track that was steeper and took in better views. A short way up, looking back South toward Aberystwyth; note the tower of the castle ruins is the left one of the two things sticking out of the peninsula in the distance:

After some difficult walking, I found a place to sit down at the edge of quite a high cliff, and stayed there at least half an hour. Looking Northwest from my spot:

Some little flowers:

I eventually scrambled up to the top, bought an orange juice at the little shop up there, and continued my way along a thin walking path heading further North along the coast. It was really beautiful, walking along the cliff edge overlooking the ocean. Eventually I started down toward the neighbouring village, and I thought this bit of the path was particularly neat-looking:

Looking North toward the next village:

I turned around when I reached the village, and returned to Will’s house after a solid day outside and almost a sunburn. On Saturday morning I caught a bus en route to Carmarthen, then a train to Swansea, and another train on to Cardiff to visit my friend Augustine. Cardiff is a really neat city and Augustine is another terrific host and friend, so I had a blast. She only arrived in town the day before me, for two semesters on exchange from UBC, so we got to explore Cardiff as tourists/adventurers together!

This is the Welsh National War Memorial to the soldiers of WWI and WWII:

Cardiff City Hall:

Close-up of the super cool dragon sculpture on the top of the dome:

There’s a castle in central Cardiff, so of course we went for a visit! Although I spent my first year of university studying in a castle, it was Augustine’s first time in a castle – exciting!

Inside the castle walls, a fort is built up on a motte (the hill of dirt) made using the dirt dug out to form the moat that surrounds it. There used to be a high wall running from the fort to the outer castle wall. The stairs you see leading up to the fort are built on what was once the wall, the remainder of which you can see running to the right corner of the picture. The original doorway is the one up in the air, which would have let someone walk out onto the wall and along it.

View of the tower housing the Chaucer Room, a really cool part of the castle. We toured through this and other rooms, but sadly no photos were allowed inside.

Maybe not the best flag photo in the world, but it’s the best I could do for the Welsh flag at the time, and I think it’s kind of neat:

Of course, with university starting the following week, all the new students were arriving in town and that means one thing: parties. We went to several, along with Augustine’s super friendly flatmates, all from different parts of the UK. Here’s what the David Pearce concert looked like. I took this pic from a position quite close to the stage, in a massive room holding hundreds and hundreds of students.

Of course, because we’re both so cool, we discovered that Augustine and I both wear the same shirt as a pyjama shirt, our MUG leader shirts from UBC orientations! Mine’s got an extra line of stuff written on it, because I’m so old and it was the 10 year anniversary of Imagine UBC Orientations when I got mine.

On the 22nd I caught a taxi to the local train station, then a slow train to Cardiff Central station, then a faster train to London Paddington station, then the tube to London Liverpool station, then the Stansted Express train to Stansted Airport. I tried to sleep the night there, but unlike Gatwick (highly recommended as airport sleeping goes) Stansted had a LOT of people doing the same thing and there weren’t any benches left by the time I arrived. I settled for a spot on the floor as many others had done, and got about an hour and a half sleep. Then I caught my Ryanair plane to Weeze airport in Germany.

To be continued…

2 thoughts on “Manchester, Aberystwyth, and Cardiff!

  1. I like how you serve as a sort of overseas MUG leader, settling in friends as new students in cities you haven’t even been to before

    i reallllyyy like the black and white picture of the castle ruins in Aberystwyth

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