Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Bodnant Garden - how do you imagine Paradise?

There are places that give you the impression of having already seen them even before you have actually visited them.But this doesn't happen because you have seen them in some movies or in some déja vu - it simply happens because they are very similar to something your fantasy has created while you were daydreaming.
They are places that, as soon as you step there, make you open your mouth with marvel and make you say "Oh, so you exist for real, then!".
This has happened to me with Connemara, whose green and blue lands were looking incredibly like to the kind of landscapes that my mind used to create as a background when I was reading fantasy novels; and this has happened with Bodnant Garden as well, which is the garden of a villa around Conwy, in Northern Wales, that now is entirely open to the public.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Cologne - Gothic cathedrals and chocolate

Even if I had never been there, Cologne belongs to my childhood.
During those years Cologne was for me a snowglobe with the cathedral and several wooden toys coming from a shop that no longer exists.
Cologne has been one of the first and most frequent work travels of my dad - and, at 8, I used to kinda boast about it, about the fact that my father was going to Germany for work. It was something somehow special, even if then I was missing him.
And then I remember that, when he was coming back home after some days away, it was almost a kind of celebration; and I also remember the small plastic bags containing butter sandwiches and gummy bears that Lufthansa used to give to the travellers in the waiting room. The '80s used to be another era for airlines.
Since he's retired, almost 7 years ago, he's been kept on telling that he wanted to take us to see this Rheinan city that, to my mum & me, was almost like a sort of mythological tale - and to him some kind of travel along the memory lane.
So, last Sunday, for his 64th birthday, the promise has come true.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Conwy - the smallest house and a castle

Bus journey from Llandudno to Conwy is short, but the 20' route that connects the two towns is already a sort of small tasting of the best of Wales.
Meadows, gorses, sheeps, rocks, beaches, sea... and then, all of sudden, Conwy appears on the horizon: the small borough with its trellis houses perched on the bay, closed, almost hugged, by the imposing medieval walls which are still intact, and the castle on their side, dominating them, strong and reassuring, almost like a sort of father trying to shelter his beautiful daughter shielding them with his imposing figure.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Llandudno - 2 "L"s & 10 good reasons to visit it

It took me a while to decide which town to choose as a base for our exploration of Northern Wales.
Llandudno grabbed my attention because it is situated in a strategical position and because it was well connected with bus routes to the main places I wanted to visited.
Bill Bryson, in his "News from a small island" (an ironical and very pleasant chronicle of a journey through Great Britain, from Dover to the most extreme point of Scotland), defines it "soporific"; but, when on Lonely Planet insted I've read "Victorian seaside resort" and "tiny pastel colour houses", I've decided to give it a chance - after all I've already stumbled upon the fact that dear old Bill and me not always share the same point of view.
For example I team for Oxford and he for Cambridge - but we will talk about this another time.
Moreover, of Llandudno I fancied the name: with its initial double "L" was evoking Welsh-ness to the maximum degree - wild beaches, a lot of green and some legends about wizards and heroes.
I just had quite some doubts about how it should have been correctly pronounced - then I've asked to Ginger Cat, who has studied Gaelic, and who revealed me that it was simply to be pronounced the way we would have read it in Italian.
Well, simpler than I've thought.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Wales & stereotypes

When coming back from a trip it always takes a while to get readjusted to reality.
And when the trip happens to be in my most beloved country, it takes a double effort ;)

I've landed back in Turin on Monday evening, with a mix of emotions consisting of longing already the awesome places I've just left behind and of treasruing the beautiful memories collected there, willing to finally sit here and write about them, sharing with you my stories about the places we visited and the beauty we gathered.
Yesterday I've returned straight to work, and it has been a long and hectic day, catching up with all the tasks left behind and the new issues emerged during my absence. So when I finally got back home, I didn't really feel like turning on the pc - my headache was begging for mercy...
But tonight here I am.
I've just booked the flights for two more upcoming trips in July and August - this year there is definitely a lot going on; so now it's high time to start catching up with my Welsh adventures :)