Our last trip with the international student office took us to the final country in the UK, Wales. The trip had two destinations, the first, the pretty seaside town of Conwy in Wales and then back onto the English side of the border to walled city of Chester.
We were meant to spend equal time in each town, but unfortunately the people planning the trip didn't take into account we'd be leaving half an hour late, the bus drivers having to take a compulsory half hour break during the trip, the fact that there might be other traffic on the roads, and then the lengthy discussion they decided to have before letting us off the bus in Conwy. All this meant we had about an hour and a half in Conwy instead of 3 so we decided we'd better make good use of our time. We headed straight for the castle, managing to take an alternate route which meant we didn't have to pay to walk across the relatively modern suspension bridge on top of entry to the castle. The castle was built between 1283 and 1289 by Edward I as one of his key fortresses in controlling the Welsh. Unlike the castles we visited in Scotland, this was essentially one building consisting of seven towers and the wall joining them. The suspension bridge was built in 1826 and spans the ConwyRiver. With not much time remaining, we made our way down to the Quayside and went past the "smallest house in Britain". Finally, we made a quick run up onto the town walls for a fantastic view of Conwy before we made our way back to the bus.
In Chester we saw the largest uncovered Roman amphitheatre and then went for a walk through the stunningly beautiful Grosvenor Park where we briefly considered finding ourselves an excuse to ride on the miniature railway in the form of a small child (you'll be please to know we left the kiddies alone). The Grosvenor museum was a fascinating look back at the natural and roman history of the area as well home life in the town from the 17th century through to the 1930s. We then went for a walk through the main shopping area of the town and discovered the Chester Rows. The Rows form a second level of shops above the street level and are the only known examples in the world. It's hard to describe it but hopefully the pictures will make it clear what I'm on about. The Eastgate Clock in the town centre is apparently the second most photographed clock in the country after Big Ben, and so we decided to do our bit for the statistic. We ended our day with a leisurely walk around the town walls just as the Victorians would have done. As an interesting footnote, we were told that an archaic bye-law of Chester states that any Welshman loitering within the city walls after sunset may be killed by decapitation or shot with a longbow and that this order was never repealed and so still officially stands on the statute, although it no longer provides protection against prosecution for murder. Okay then.