British Isles 2015:
Day 7 - Liverpool/Wales


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British Isles 2015: [Day 1 - London] [Day 2 - Dover/Calais] [Day 3 - Southampton] [Day 4 - Guernsey] [Day 5 - Cork] [Day 6 - Dublin] [Day 7 - Liverpool] [Day 8 - Belfast] [Day 9 - Glasgow] [Day 10 - At Sea] [Day 11 - Invergordon] [Day 12 - Edinburgh] [Day 13 - At Sea] [Day 14 - Versailles] [Day 15 - London] [Day 16 - London]

Friday, July 24, 2015: Welcome to Liverpool!

We arrived at 8:00 AM and got off the ship early so we had a little bit of time to look around before our 9:00 tour to Wales departed. This penguin statue was part of the Liverpool Penguins series in 2009.
The most imposing building on the waterfront is the Royal Liver Building, where our friend Mike worked back in the early 90s.
We saw Liverpool's Titanic Memorial, dedicated to the 244 engine room staff who died on the Titanic.
Here's a statue of Edward VII, ...
... there's the Cunard Building, ...
... and there's a closer shot of the Royal Liver Building.
We had enough passengers to fill our large van and start our tour shortly after 8:30 AM, so off we went with Ollie as our tour guide. The remaining people who booked the same tour left later and went in a regular sized tourist coach. It pays to arrive early. We passed the Atlantic Tower Hotel, ...
... and a Google Street View car.
We crossed under the water using Birkenhead Tunnel.
This way to North Wales. Straight ahead to go to Port Sunlight Village and Lady Lever Art Gallery.
Port Sunlight is a village built for the employees of the Lever company in the late 1800s.
We sailed right past the Welcome to Wales sign without getting a photo of it, so here's one similar to it. It might even actually be the sign we saw. Who knows?
Wales has sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. Every once in a while, you'll see one or two black ones mixed in with all the white ones.
Here's Marble Church in Bodelwyddan, ...
... and some unknown castle on a hill. This country has so many castles that it's not really worth pointing out all of them.
Our first destination was Llandudno in Conwy.
Lewis Carroll wrote "Alice in Wonderland" here, so you'll find that theme throughout the town. A status of the Mad Hatter oversees the waterfront.
We got out at the Grand Hotel and had some free time to explore. We were on a mission: exchange some currency, since we had foolishly not done it when we arrived at the airport, and our currency needs were more than a mere ATM could keep up with.
So we walked in to town, ...
... passing this Alice-themed hop-on hop-off bus, ...
... and this little Alice in Wonderland plaque in the sidewalk.  "Follow the white rabbit," it beckons.
Here's the view of Llandudno Pier looking from the North Parade entrance, ...
... and looking down North Shore Beach on Mostyn Cres Road.
Once in town, we were directed by a bank employee to go to the second floor of Marks & Spencer, where they had a currency exchange, so we did and they did. Whew! With that chore behind us, we headed back to the bus.
Back at the hotel, we noticed this plaque next to the entrance. We were giddy -- we love "The Forsyte Saga" and were thrilled to see that a portion of it was filmed here. Another excuse to watch it again!
We drove through town ...
... and passed the Queen of Hearts on our way out.
Five minutes later, we could see Conwy Castle in the distance.
Wondering where we were in Wales? Wonder no longer. Tom got a screenshot on his phone of our location on the map.
There's Lower Gate Street, home of the Smallest House in Great Britain, along the River Conwy.  End of the town walls are visible on the far right. We were heading there shortly.
Ollie dropped us off outside Conwy Castle and told us when we needed to be back. We now had free time to shop, eat lunch, and explore, so off we went.
Here's High Street in Conwy, ...
... and here's Berry Street. We looked at the restaurant options to keep in mind for when we were done exploring.
We went down to the waterfront and walked to the end of a pier. It was low tide so it was a bit of a walk out to the water.
From the end of the pier we had a nice view of Conwy Castle to the left, ...
... and the Smallest House in Great Britain to the right.
Along the waterfront, there was a European Market going on, ...
... with lots of food options. We knew we'd be dropping our cash here instead of finding a restaurant in town.
We started out by eating a bratwurst from the German stand to handle our immediate hunger emergency, ...
... then got packages of Fiery Dragon cheese and and Sticky Toffee cheese from the CheeseBoard, ....
... and three different pastries, including baklava from the Greek stand next door, ...
... then got a Brooklyn Bad Boy burger from Uncle Sam's BBQ.
We had a picnic on a bench overlooking the marina, ...
... where we had visits from a herring gull ...
... and a Western jackdaw.
Lobster or crab traps? Being landlocked Midwesterners, we don't know for sure.
The Conwy Mussel Sculpture, created by Greame Mitcheson, stands on the waterfront and Orchy posed on it for a minute.
Pont Conwy, humda humda humda humda. We don't speak a word of Welsh.
Here's one more shot of Conwy Castle and our beloved Orchy.
Just before leaving, we went to the castle gift shop, where we bought a hand-carved interlocking wooden spoon, a tiny bottle of Welsh cream alcohol, and a red Welsh dragon Beanie Baby for our granddaughter, but inexplicably only photographed the display of sodas we wanted to try but didn't. Weirdos.
Here's a statue of Llywelyn the Great.
As we got near the turnoff to go to the island of Anglesey, our guide played us a song to help us learn how to say the name of the town with the longest name in Europe (and second longest in the world) that is located there: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Tom wrote down the only part we could recall: the "go-go-goch!" at the end.
Yeah, that's another castle over there. No big deal.
In charming Bethesda, we passed the Victoria Hotel, ...
... the King's Head Hotel, ...
... and the Douglas Arms Hotel, named for two monarchs and Debbie's brother, respectively.
The Penrhyn Quarry is located near here, and we saw mountains of slate.
We were headed to Snowdonia National Park, ...
... home of hills, mountains, ...
... and sheep. Lots of sheep just like this guy.
Stone and slate are used everywhere to make walls, fences, and other structures, ...
... including this quaint building.
As we drove along the valley, we stopped to watch as sheep came out of one of the buildings like clowns out of a clown car. They just kept coming and coming and coming. There were quite a few black sheep as well.
Cows! Let's photograph them.
There was an impressive waterfall across the valley from us.
Ollie gave us the option of walking the rest of the way up the valley drive or going up on the bus. We jumped at the opportunity to get out and enjoy the scenery.
Everything was lush and green.
These unknown plants are the real version of the dried/fake flowers we used in our daughter's wedding reception table arrangements the year before. Who knew they were based on a real plant that looks like a fuzzball on a stick?
Here are some tiny but pretty little plants.
The view from the top of the valley was just beautiful.
There was subtle color everywhere.
Debbie got a photo of a plant growing in the rock crevasses, ...
... and Tom got a photo of Debbie taking that photo.
Mmmm, mushrooms growing out of something nasty. Isn't nature fascinating?
The foxglove plants were in full bloom.
Here's a tiny but brightly colored mushroom.
We got back in the bus and drove until we could see Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.
We drove to Betws-y-Coed, a town inside Snowdonia National Park.
We got out at a nice little visitor area there, with shops, restrooms, ...
... and a train station, just perfect for photographing Orchy.
When we saw our granddaughter's name on a sign again, we knew we'd have to get a couple of ice cream cones, which we enjoyed while having a chat with Ollie. We also picked up a Welsh dragon magnet and a Claire keychain.
After our visit there, we drove out of town over this bridge, which notes along the bottom: "This arch was constructed in the same year as the Battle of Waterloo, 1815."
More quaint countryside, featuring cows ...
... and the most unique fencing we've seen in a while.
We drove over the bridge at the top of this photo and curled around to drive underneath it, ...
... leading to a pretty view of the river below them both.
As we drove, Ollie played music by Welsh singers, most of whom we didn't know were Welsh, with the exception of Tom Jones: Shirley Bassey, Duffy ("Mercy"), Dave Edmunds ("I Hear You Knocking"), Mary Hopkins ("Those Were The Days"), Bonnie Tyler, Sarah Brightman, Ricky Valance ("Tell Laura I Love Her"), Howard Jones, and Donna Lewis ("I Love You Always Forever").
Our next stop was the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, a World Heritage Site.
Built in the early 1800s, it allows boats to travel above the valley ...
... through a narrow manmade channel.
Just as we were leaving, a horde of umbrella-packing tourists showed up and a boat was making its way across the canal.
The canal leads to a larger area where barges were parked, ...
... including this one whose occupant was selling handmade candles.
We had about an hour of driving to get back to Liverpool, arriving a little after 4:30 which was well before the all aboard time of 5:30.
We got to enjoy sail out from our table in the dining room. We started out facing away from town, ...
... then turned to face the Liverpool waterfront.
After dinner, we went out on deck. While we were watching the travel scenes on the jumbo screen, ...
... the fountain water show suddenly started.
We watched it, mesmerized, with no one else around.
We also saw some windmill farms in the direction of the sea.
Later in the evening, we started to see oil rigs outside our cabin.

After an overcast day, we were rewarded with a stunning sunset as we travelled west toward Belfast.

Day 8 >


British Isles 2015: [Day 1 - London] [Day 2 - Dover/Calais] [Day 3 - Southampton] [Day 4 - Guernsey] [Day 5 - Cork] [Day 6 - Dublin] [Day 7 - Liverpool] [Day 8 - Belfast] [Day 9 - Glasgow] [Day 10 - At Sea] [Day 11 - Invergordon] [Day 12 - Edinburgh] [Day 13 - At Sea] [Day 14 - Versailles] [Day 15 - London] [Day 16 - London]

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