Journal to Wales
March 8 to March 20, 2009
Angi, Heather, and Tamra drove us to DFW around noon, on March 3rd. Plane was scheduled to lift off at 1430 hours. Went thru security, checked bags and found that the departure gate had changed to A20.Our flight at 1410 hours was delayed by storms in the Chicago area. Finally boarded the plane at 1610 hours. Arrived in Chicago at 1820 hours, and discovered that our direct flight to Manchester had been cancelled. We had to go to re-booking. First available flight was at 2340 hours to Heathrow, in London. We ate dinner at a food court, walked around, got a couple of crossword puzzle books and waited. Boarded an American Airlines 777 at 2330 hours and the plane was full. We had a crying baby a few seats in front of us. Shortly after takeoff we were served a light dinner. Tried to sleep, but my leg was getting muscle spasms, and the man in front of Carol reclined his seat back so Carol was not able to stand up to get out. She was on an aisle and had to sidle out of the seat. Had a light breakfast about an hour out of Heathrow and landed about noon, London time. Security was VERY strict, but line moved fairly quick. Got our currency exchanged at a Thomas Cook counter. Ate lunch at a court called Giraffe. Carol had “Fish and Chips”. Flight to Manchester was supposed to leave at 1515 hours, but was 20 minutes late. We had a mini coke and cookies(biscuits) snack and landed in Manchester around 1630 hours, local time. Went through another security check and then on to the baggage pickup area. My suitcase was still in Chicago, would arrive the following morning and be brought over to the B&B , in llandudno, by courier. Got a free bus to the train station, got round trip tickets to Llandudno, Wales and left Manchester around 1730 hours. Stopped at Crewe and had to change trains with another wait of an hour. The next train had 10 cars, and the front five were going to Holly Oaks and the last five were going on to Bangor. We got on the last five and had to get off and change again at Llandudno junction, about five minutes from our destination. Carol and ann were texting back and forth and Ann said she would pick us up in Llandudno Junction and take us to the B&B. We had to call the B&B and let then know we were running late. We both recognized Ann immediately, and it was great to see Ann and Carol finally meet after 53 years of letter writing. We arrived at the B&B at about 2140 hours. Said goodnight to Ann and went to our room. We were the only guests. The room was very nice, twin beds, flat screen TV(telly),
bath, with small shower, and free WIFI. Carol hung her clothes up, I threw mine on the sofa, as I would have to wear them again Tuesday until my bag arrived. Went down for breakfast Tuesday morning, Carol had toast and orange juice. I had a full Welsh breakfast consisting of, two slices of ham, a link sausage(banger),
one egg, fried potato wedges, baked beans, fried toast, and half of a baked tomato, coffee, and juice. After breakfast we walked over to the main street, which was only two blocks away. I bought a shirt, and Carol got some Dr. pepper, hair spray, and post cards. Got back to the B&B and were notified that my bag should be there by 1400 hours. Ann arrived the same time as my bag, and after I got my clothes hung up and changed, Ann drove us up to the top of The Great Orme. Llandudno is on an inlet with a high mountain on the left and a smaller one on the right. The big one is called The Great Orme and the smaller one is called The little Orme. Tourist season open officially April 1st and they were testing the tram railcar ride up the Orme. Ann drove us around town, went to the cemetery where her parents are buried, and then to her husbands grave site. Stopped by a store called ASDA, which is owned by Wal-Mart, and got some sandwiches for dinner, more Dr. Pepper, and some souvenirs. Most of the restaurants close at 1600 hours, but the pubs stay open later and serve meals till 2100 hours. We either had to eat early or go to one of the pubs. Went to a Tea House about 1630 hours for tea and scones. Carol had mineral water. Back to the guest house about 1800 hours. Ate our sandwiches, watched TV, checked email, downloaded the cameras to the computer, charged everything up for the next day. Ann has things to do on Wednesday so we will be on our own. The North Wales Pioneer will be out Thursday to interview Ann and Carol and take pictures. They will be co-ordinating with The Colony Courier- Leader on the article. Walked around town, went to the bank, had lunch at Leopold's Restaurant, bought more souvenirs, went back to the B&B to drop off the bags and had a short rest. Went back to town, walked around , went into a lot of different stores, bought more postcards and souvenirs, and had dinner at Tribells Restaurant. I had Fish and Chips, with boiled potatoes, and mashed peas. Went to bed early that night. Thursday morning we walked back to town, went to the bank, back to ASDA's for more Dr. Pepper. Dropped it off at the B&B and then went to the Greenery for lunch. Very nice place to eat. Bill came to ten pounds and some change, and Carol was trying to find the right coins and finally just laid all the coins on the counter and told the clerk to take what she needed. Went back to the B&B, and at 1500 hours the reporter, photographer, and Ann showed up, for the interview. Anna Glover was the reporter, and I think the photographer's name was Kerry. Interview lasted about 45 minutes. I used a camcorder to record the whole thing. Then Ann drove us around town some more and we walked around on the Promenade, and we ate at Tribell's again.
Walked back to the B&B, met some new guests, Nick, Carrie, and baby Charlie. They are only staying a couple of days. They are from England.
Friday morning Ann picked us up at 0930 hours and drove us to Conwy. We toured the castle, walked all over the town, and it rained for the first, and only day we were there. Several elementary school groups were touring the castle too so it was a little noisy. Found the smallest house in Great Britain, and wanted to go to the Butterfly Museum, but it started raining, and then we found out that it was about ½ mile out of town. Had lunch at a coffee house then caught a bus back to Llandudno. Ann picked us up at 1630 hours, and took us out to her house. Most of the houses we saw were duplex's(semi detached), Very small yards. We had tea(dinner) with Ann, met her neighbor, Pat. Pat kept us in stitches with some of the things she and Ann had done. Took a lot of photos, more videos, and Ann got us back to the B&B around 2230 hours. Went down for breakfast Saturday morning and Ann had left us an anniversary card. Nick, Carrie, and Charlie are leaving this morning, but we have another guest. He is from North England in town for a meeting. He told us about how seniors get free bus passes and reduced rates for the train. Sweet. Also had a lady who wasn't very friendly, didn't talk to anyone. When we got back to our room the owners had left us an anniversary card and a box of candy, very nice of them. After breakfast we caught a bus to Caenarfon Castle. Got there around 1100 hours and decided to have lunch before going into the castle. Mailed some postcards off also. Ate at Cofi Roc, a pub, restaurant. Looked like a hangout for the young crowd, rock music playing, big screens on the walls. Had a sandwich and potato chips(crisps). Finally went into the castle. This is the castle where Prince Charles was investured as the Prince of Wales. This is one of the best preserved castles around, and it is huge. Met some people from California in the souvenir shop. Caught the bus back and the trip back was much faster, lady bus driver. Called Ann and asked her if she would join us for our anniversary dinner at The Albert, a pub just up the alley from the B&B. We walked over and had a great meal. The bill was around 30 lb and I was going to leave a 5 lb tip and Ann said that was too much but I managed to slip it in without her noticing. Walked over to town, after dinner, and Ann took us over to meet her sister, and then we walked back to ASDA's, more Dr. Pepper, and then back to the B&B. Ann is going to pick us up at 0730 hours Sunday morning, and we will be attending the 0800 service at The Holy Trinity Church of England. Got back to the B&B in time for breakfast. Rested till lunch time and went back to The Greenery, and Ann and Pat picked us up and drove us over to Rhos on Sea, and we walked all over, had some Welsh ice cream then back to Ann's house for tea and cake. Ann dropped us off at the B&B and we walked back to The Albert for dinner. Monday we had breakfast, walked back to town, got a bus that took us to the last street before starting up The Great Orme. There is a bronze age copper mine about half way up and we decided we could walk that far. Bad decision, the grade is about 60 degrees. We staggered up and the mine was closed, so we had to walk back down to catch a bus. Got back to town, had lunch, and went back to the B&B for a short nap. Went back to ASDA”s for sandwiches. March 17 got up, had breakfast, walked back to town got Mothering Day cards for Ann & Pat, and a plant for Ann to put on David's grave. Went back to B&B to drop our stuff off and then back to town, Walked around by the St. George Hotel, looked through Mark's & Spencer's store, and then Ann called. She picked us up at the B&B and took us to Happy Valley. It is a park, by the pier, and it ain't no valley. They have a miniature stonehenge, Lots of different plantings, a cave, and at the top there is an artificial ski slope, two levels. It is very long . Plus there is a metal bobsled run around it. We watched a couple make the bobsled run and there were some people on the ski slope. Again, this “valley” has a 50 to 60 degree grade. Took some good shots across the bay. March 18 at breakfast we met a new guest from Phoenix who is touring the U.K. For a month, by herself. She works in the Phoenix Zoo. She said she took a six month course of Welsh before coming. Very interesting to talk to. Also met a gentlemen who was performing in a show at the local theater. I think it was an orchestra. After breakfast we walked back to town and picked some North Wales Pioneer newspapers, and Ann and Carol were on the front page. Went back to the B&B to rest a bit and pack, as we leave for Manchester the next morning. Ann came by to say goodbye, she is going to Manchester to see her daughter and grandson tomorrow afternoon. We check out at 1000 hours and catch the train at 1045 hours. Walked to The Albert for dinner and then back to the B&B, last night here. March 19, had our last breakfast, at the B&B, took some pictures of the owners, Dyfrig & Julie Williams, and told them if we ever came back they would be the first to know. Walked to the train station, took more pictures. Train was an express to Manchester, but this time it was daylight and we got to see the scenery. Got to Manchester around noon, and their station is huge. Got a real British taxi to the hotel, which was 3 miles from the airport, and 13 miles from the train station. The taxi was equipped with GPS. Checked in the hotel, ordered the shuttle to the airport, for the next morning, and the girl at the desk called and got our terminal and gate number. Room was very nice, lot of amenities for $65.00. Had lunch in the lounge, and walked around the grounds. Had dinner in hotel dining room. Waiter wore suit and tie and was very formal, but the prices were very reasonable. Went up to the room and got ready for bed, and about 2030 hours Ann called. Seems her daughter lives only about 15 minutes away and they want to come over, as we have never met Janet. So we get dressed again, and go downstairs to wait on them. They stayed about an hour and then said goodbye. March 20, we got up at 0500 hours, went down to the lounge and waited for the shuttle to take us to the airport.
Arrived at 0715 hours, got boarding passes and turned in baggage, which was overweight and had to pay extra. Went through security again, had breakfast, exchanged our British lbs for dollars, and went to gate and waited to board. Had a crying baby in the seat in front of us this time, and when she wasn't sleeping, she was crying. Got to Chicago and had to collect our bags and take them to the next gate for our flight to DFW. Flight to DFW was very smooth, and we arrived 35 minutes early, female pilot. Angi met us at the airport and we stopped at the Texas Steakhouse for dinner. Connor and Devlin met us at the door and we unpacked our souvenirs and gave them their gifts. Carol sent Ann a text and told her we had made it home. This was a fabulous trip. I thank God for setting it up so these two friends could finally meet face to face.