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Three Cliffs Bay, Bath, Stonehenge, and Snowdonia National Park

The other night, I couldn’t sleep. I spent the day doing pretty average stuff; I went for a run, made myself breakfast, walked around the city with some friends, and worked on homework. You couldn’t pick this Monday out of a lineup, but that night I couldn’t sleep. And here’s why: I started to get an itch. A hum in the back of my head. A small little devil-version of me sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear, “Hey Alex, let’s go somewhere.”

It all started with Three Cliffs Bay. It was a day trip my friends and I signed up for that looked like a promising way to spend a Saturday. After a two-hour bus ride we arrived to what I can only describe as a photo out of a National Geographic magazine. The ocean was bright blue and framed by beautiful, magnificent cliffs. We hiked along side the cliffs for a bit, then climbed down a steep slope to the beach. After a few miles up and down the beach, we hiked back up the cliffs and to an old, rustic castle that overlooked the ocean. It ended up being somewhere between eleven and twelve miles of hiking—we were all so tired by the end of it. But every second of the hike was insanely beautiful.

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I had left my plain little room at Cardiff and found myself exactly where I needed to be—outside, experiencing, sweating from a long and tiring hike, and exhausted after a day of exploring, adventuring, and the occasional slip and fall into the mud. On Sunday I was tired and welcomed a day of rest; come Monday, I was ready to go.

It was about 1 AM that Monday night/Tuesday morning when I decided that on Friday I was going to go to Bath, England. I found the train tickets I needed, closed my computer, and went to bed. Jane ended up getting tickets too later that week and on Friday morning we woke up bright and early and made the half hour trek to the train station. It was so early and we were tired, but once we arrived at Bath we knew it was going to be worth it. We got coffee and went to wait for the free walking tour that volunteers give every day. It ended up being a two-hour walk (in the pouring rain) around the city where we learned about the history of Bath and saw all of the sights. Jane and I were both so wet and cold but our tour guide was still energetic and took his time through the city. The tour ended right next to Thermae Bath Spa where we treated ourselves to a two-hour spa session where we had access to the heated rooftop pool that overlooked the city. It was luxurious, way fancier than anything I usually do, and it gave us an amazing view. We concluded our day by window-shopping around the stores in the city, walking through a beautiful park, getting drinks at a pub, and finishing with a large Italian meal accompanied with wine and appetizers. By 8:30 we were back to the train station with full bellies, and by 11:30 I was back in my cozy bed in Cardiff. It was a really good day.

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At 6:45 the next morning my alarm went off, and by 7:30 I was out the door headed to meet a coach bus to take me to Stonehenge and Salisbury. This was a trip through an organization at Cardiff, but I didn’t know anyone else that was going to be there. On the long bus ride there, I met a super nice girl from Italy named Giulia and we ended up spending the whole day together, exchanging stories of how our homes are so different. Meeting her, along with some other international students, ended up making the entire trip so wonderful. Stonehenge was interesting, but not a place I’d go again. It was out of the way to get to, filled with tourists, and after taking a few pictures and looking at it for a couple of moments the novelty of it wore off. There weren’t any other attractions at that location so after looking at it for a bit we were ready to go. The coach took us to Salisbury next, a very big town with a beautiful cathedral. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city and enjoying a new town.

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The next morning it was 5:45 AM when my alarm went off. I woke up, packed a lunch, grabbed my hiking gear and extra layers, and met my friends outside of our flats. Our bus left Cardiff at 7 AM and by noon we arrived at Caernarfon, Wales. We toured an incredibly beautiful castle and enjoyed lunch on top of one of the highest points, overlooking the city. The castle overlooked the town and a bay filled with sailboats. After some time at the castle we went to Snowdonia National Park—one of the places in Wales that was on my must-do list. It was everything I expected, and more. We hiked up one side of Mount Snowdon and arrived at a landing that overlooked the park. It was probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There was a good view from every angle showing mountains and rivers. Disappointingly, we didn’t have enough time to get to the top of the mountain. But even though we didn’t get as much hiking in as I would have liked, it was still so worth it. We got home that night around 11 PM.

 

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Now, it’s Monday afternoon and I’m sitting in a café looking out at the rainy Welsh weather. After a long weekend of adventuring, coming back to reality (and school) is tricky but it’s my new norm. Next weekend I’m heading to Brecon Beacon’s National Park for another day trip, but before that I have a week of school, studying, and enjoying Cardiff. Ah, to be a student abroad.

 

Cheers,

Alex

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