Archive for Days Out

Jaunty up Pen y Fan

Swanning around Europe for three weeks made me want to get out of my city and experience more of Wales’ beauty. So me and my fellow interrailer hit the road and headed for the Brecon Beacons, a mountain range just outside of Cardiff in order to walk up Pen y Fan. Driving along, we were able to preview some of the incredible views – rolling mountains and fresh greenery stretching out in front of us broken up by gorgeous reservoirs tucked in amongst the hills. Upon arrival, we parked up, packed our bags with water and snacks (of course) and made our way over to the mountain in front of us.

Feeling confident and prepared, we began our ascent. However, as we made our way up, we began to doubt our hasty decision to start climbing up the first mountain we came across. We stopped, turned around, and saw on the opposite side of the road, Pen y Fan and a very easily accessible walkers path which ran in a massive circle around the mountain. Okay. Smooth. We trudged back down the random hill we had just climbed, shook ourselves off, pretended it didn’t happen, and started again. I honestly don’t know how we made it around Europe in one piece.

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Okay. This is going okay. I can do this. I puffed as the path began to spiral into a gentle slope up the mountain. Okay. Yeah. This is fine. I huffed as the gentle slope turned into a steep ascent. Okay. Maybe it’s time for a quick break. I stood and surveyed my surroundings, spotting the delicate reservoirs in the distance and the expanse of mountain range around me. Pretty impressive.

The path dipped down into a small lake and it was at this point where my ankle started to burn with the familiar pain of a blister. I took of my walking boot, shoved a couple plasters on it and picked up what I thought were the rements of the plaster packaging but was in fact sheep poo. Yep. I just picked up poop. Life can only get better. I dipped my fingers into the nearby water and shook myself off again. And then subsequently stepped into a muddy marsh, my boot oozed down with squelchy mud. Great. I am not a country girl, obviously.2014-09-09 16.20.42

My friend strode on ahead, leaving me lagging behind with burning thighs, streaming nose and dangerously close to passing out. I really should invest more in this whole exercise thing. I stopped again in order to get a few snaps of the landscape and to you know, learn to breathe normally again, and took in the world around me.  Simply breathtaking – being a city girl and being mid-way up a mountain with only fresh land, blue skies and rolling hills around me. I was basically alone by now, my friend was so far ahead she was just a small dot on the horizon. I tried to catch up, I honestly did but my legs are not equipped for that kind of strenuous exercise. And then a jogger ran past me, casually jogging like he hadn’t a care in the world, smiling at me and saying “hey”. Seriously?  Jogging? Up a mountain? No.

Limping on my blistered feet and breathing heavily, the summit was in sight. My friend sitting there all smug and happy and eating some snacks. I was nearly there! Too bad there was still a massive steep rocky ascent for me to get up.

It’s worth it once you get to the top! Passer-bys laughed as they leisurely walked past me as they made their way down. Shut up.

Finally, what felt like seven hours later, I made it to the summit. And it was amazing. You could see for miles, miles and miles of open land and fresh air, making the passer-bys right. It is definitely worth it. 2014-09-09 15.24.54 2014-09-09 16.04.56 2014-09-09 16.03.17

 

We ate our picnic, enjoying the view and appreciating Wales’ beauty. As we made our descent back down Pen y Fan, we realised that going down was definitely a lot more boring. As a guy bounded down the hill, running without a care in the world, jumping over rocks, flinging himself down the mountain and generally looking like he was having a damn good time, I was tempted to join in and get down faster but then I realised that I would almost definitely face plant the ground. So I didn’t.

I hit the bottom, sweaty, thirsty, red-faced, hobbling on blistered feet and with sheep poo rements on my hands but I still felt rather victorious. Never again though, mind.

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Pen y Fan and the Brecon Beacons are worth a visit, showcasing Wales’ best qualities – stunning panoramics, rolling mountains, fresh, green land and lots and lots of sheep. And sheep poop. Do not. Pick up. The poop.

 

 

London’s Calling

So, despite our upcoming three week Europe trip, my friend and I thought it was a marvellous idea to head to London for the weekend and spend all the money we don’t have. And what better way to start the trip than going out for “a few drinks” before our 6AM bus from Cardiff? Yeah…that wasn’t the brightest idea we’ve ever had. Cut to 9AM and we’re waking up in London, sleep deprived and blurry eyed and in desperate need of a bacon sandwich.

Anyway, despite the shaky (literally) start to our trip, we had a lot to be excited about. A tour bus ride around London, a night out on the town and more importantly; was this our chance to finally meet Prince Harry?! He would definitely love us.

For me, London has always been like a parallel universe. It kind of terrifies me (mainly due to the large volume of pigeons) but also excites me – it’s massive and the people are fast moving but there’s always something happening, always something around the corner. From China town to Leicester Square, to Camden Town and Southbank, there is literally something for everybody.

After a hearty hangover brunch in China town, we checked into our hotel and then headed to central London in order to catch a ride on a tour bus. The beautiful weather allowed us to sit on the open top deck…and hopefully not get sunburnt. The Original Red Route Tour took us ALL around London, showing us all the typical tourist attractions and telling us lots of information about each place. It was pretty interesting  for someone who has been to London 3-4 times before but never actually learnt anything about it! My personal favourite snippet of information was the fact that whilst the Queen is away, Buckingham Palace is open to the public.Yes! My quest for Prince Harry’s heart can be continued…
However, I was slightly disturbed to find that a one bedroom house in Eton Square costs £1 million….1 MILLION POUNDS!! I mean, do people actually HAVE that much money to spend on a 1 BEDROOM HOUSE?! Do they not have more interesting things to spend it on, such as, I don’t know, an island in the Bahamas? (This is possible. I googled. There’s actually one for less than  £1,000,000. You can buy an actual island in the middle of Bahamas for LESS THAN A ONE BEDROOM FLAT IN LONDON! Mental).

Anyway, I am getting greatly off topic.

After our informative trip around London and a burger at a burger restaurant where people actually queued around the corner to get into, we made our way back to the hotel in order to get ready and head out (and by that I mean have a nap whilst watching Come Dine With Me).

Our Great London Night Out didn’t start off too well. We went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and believe it or not, it wasn’t the most exciting place on earth. The main highlight for me was sitting on a massive chair and pretending I was a hobbit, and then getting lost in the Mirror Maze. So after that mighty disappoint, we weren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves. Being two Cardiff girls in the middle of London, we just kind of stood there feeling like two lost sheep wondering if someone would take pity on us and tell us where to go. Of course, there were promoters for bars and clubs everywhere, so pretty soon we were on our way to a bar where we were promised “cheap drinks” and “free entry”. We were allowed free entry, but drinks were not cheap. They were not cheap at all. My bank account is still weeping.

The next morning, we decided the best place to go for shopping was Camden Market. And I loved it. After a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice, we squeezed our way through the hustle and bustle of Camden market life, pouring over beautiful jewelry, cool trinkets and amazing (yet slightly bizarre) clothing.

So, despite the slightly frazzled start and the extortionate housing prices (I don’t know how people live in London and still have money to live) my weekend in London was pretty damn fun…and a pretty awesome way to start a trip around Europe. Leaving tomorrow..wish me luck!

 

 

 

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