Where| in the world

by Sarah Welch

Sue is an old friend from college days who has always been a traveler.

When I met her at Texas Tech in the fall of 1958, she and her parents had recently been to Cuba.

I thought that was the most exotic trip I had ever heard of.

It wasn’t long after that Cuba was closed to American tourists, and Cuba remained closed until re-cent years.

I’m not so keen to go there now, but Sue was always ready to go any-where unusual.

In 2006, she and I planned a Canal Boat Cruise in Wales.

Our first stop was in Chester in northern England, a historic walled city known for its many timbered buildings and the huge Victorian clock over the entrance to the “old city.”

Into Wales, our first stop was in Betws-y-Coed, a charming village on the River Conway.

We found a driver, who had once served Prince Charles and Princess Diana, to take us sight seeing.

He had interesting stories to tell as he pointed out dark, grey stone buildings and bridges.

The Welch language is baffling, names impossible to pronounce.

For example, we took a rail journey on the Festinaog Railway from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog. Try pronouncing those three times!

We visited the beautiful city of Portmeirion, developed between 1926 and 1976 by Clough William Ellis.

His pur-pose was to demonstrate that a naturally beautiful place could be developed without spoiling it.

It is a serene village both in architecture and gardens.

We visited the enormous Caernarfon Castle, built between 1283 and 1327, with thirteen towers and walls seven to nine feet thick.

This castle is the place of the Investiture of Prince Edward as Prince of Wales in 1911 and of Prince Charles in

1969. Many castles dot the landscape of Wales. Our next stop was Beaumaris Castle located in Anglesey, North Wales.

The resort town of Llandudno on the sea was next, then nearby Conwy, with an-other imposing castle.

Conwy Castle was completed in 1287. While in Conwy we had lunch at The Galleon, where I ate the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.

See if you can pronounce these names; we left Betws-y-Coed and arrived in Llangollen, where we connected with Martin Reed, the captain of Reeds Boats Canal Cruises.

We boarded the “Oak” and “Ash,” two colorful canal boats connected end to end. One boat was the engine room, kitchen, and dining area, the other boat housed the guest rooms.

Well, I say rooms, but more like a closet. The boats are only seven feet wide; the hallway down one side was two feet, leaving five feet width for the room by approximately seven feet in length.

The room consisted of a very narrow cot, a tiny sink and tiny closet, with us placing our suitcase under the bed.

Though very small, it was quite comfortable. During meals, the two boats docked with one pulling up beside the other so we could step across to the dining room.

Leaving Llangollen on our six-day canal cruise, we crossed over the Potcysyllte (yep, that is the correct spelling). Aqueduct over the River Dee.

The center of the aqueduct is 126 feet above the river, so quite a thrill looking down!

It was a very leisurely cruise taking in the scenery along the river and stopping at various places to eat or get out and stretch our legs.

We crossed under many stone bridges and over other aqueducts and through locks.

We said farewell to our canal boat crew at Chirk and took the train to York for a few days.

The York Minster is a most magnificent cathedral and is the largest in Northern Europe.

It has more stained glass windows than any other church in England.

I could spend hours just gazing at these beautiful windows.

Another area of interest in York is called the Shambles, narrow streets with crooked buildings that look as if they might topple into the street, but they’ve been there for hundreds of years and haven’t fallen yet.

This is a pedestrian area and the buildings house shops and restaurants.

Beside “The Hole in the Wall” pub was a very narrow alley where you could walk to the back and have a great view of the York Minster.

They called this alley a ‘snickel way’. I love that term! Sounds so British!

After a day trip from York to Scarborough, we were done and had to return home.

It was a wonderful trip!

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” -- Susan Sontag