Wales is usually known for its wet and windy weather but this summer has brought everything but. Obviously there has been the odd day of rain, this is after all the UK and to be expected but nothing quite as extreme as I what I was told I would be facing. I can definitely say I am pleasantly surprised by this glorious summer. This will not last however, I have to be realistic. With the end of the year fast approaching this can only mean that Winter is not too far away either. God I hate Winters. There is not one bone in my body that is looking forward to leaky shoes, wet socks and soaked through jackets not to mention the bone chilling negative degrees that comes with it. I haven’t had a proper winter in a while, I don’t count the “winter” I had in Australia. Yes it was cold and yes I was freezing most of the time but I don’t think it quite matches up to what I classify as Winter. Unfortunately in the UK we don’t get the awesome snow fall of Canada or America or anything close to as beautiful but we do get the cold temperatures and some snow fall on the odd occasion. I am currently going through the process of mentally preparing myself as well as stocking up on thick socks and a nice warm coat. Not something most British people do in the Summer, this is usually left for the Autumn or indeed when Winter is well and truly settled in. I however can’t wait that long, I need to be sure that I am going to be warm for my own sanity and mental stability. I am going to be wet and cold on more than one occasion and I need to know that with my trusty thermals and woolly hat I will be able to keep the risk of frostbite to a minimum. Not to mention currently taking every opportunity to soak up as much of this summer sun as possible.
And what a Summer! In my 3-4 weeks of me being here I have managed to enjoy as many days of sunshine as I have rain. Not bad going for the UK and especially the North of Wales that has this reputation for being under water most of the time. Someone even told me that they were told to pack an inflatable boat! I couldn’t imagine why, this has been simply just beautiful! Speaking of beauty, not only has this weather been something to really write home about but this scenery. Oh. My. Goodness. The scenery. Where to start?!?! Firstly you have everything you could possibly wish for and more packed in to one teeny tiny university town bursting with outdoor adventures and more beauty round every corner. Hillside, Seaside, Mountains and more country all in one neat little Welsh package. In fairness I am perhaps exaggerating ever so slightly as they will unlikely be mentioned as top ten reasons to visit Bangor in the Wales Lonely Planet guidebook but for me I literally could not ask for more. I am yet to see this place in Winter but from some (only slightly photoshopped) photos I can see that the beauty comes with all seasons. I actually look forward to capturing my own slightly less edited versions, I don’t think I have ever looked forward to snow in the UK at all. I’m not asking for much, just a slight dusting but some snow would be good this year. Enough to keep the British world moving and not that slushy rain that no one enjoys. Good Canadian Style powder would go down a treat. Until then I am going to enjoy another (hopefully) few weeks of this glorious sunshine so I can continue to be unemployed and outside working on my flip-flop tan line. I could do without the unemployment factor but with the town resembling somewhat of a ghost town I just have to knuckle down and keep myself occupied until work picks up again in September. How I hear you think. Well as mentioned before, Bangor really does have a lot to offer so I am rarely bored and with a few libraries to boot stories of adventures are just around the corner and down the street.
Firstly without the need to get on a train or a bus or even a boat if that is what takes your fancy you can walk pretty much anywhere around here and be surrounded by views from all angles. My favourite walk so far has to be the one down to Garth Pier and to Menai Bridge. The walk itself is nothing spectacular, a bit of forest dotted here and there and a field or two but the views at the end. Wow. Garth Pier juts out on to the Menai Strait and after a largely inexpensive entrance fee (50p) you can have the pleasure of spending an afternoon or morning watching the sea life go by. Sail boats, speed boats, fishing boats and even a kayak or two use this stretch of water as an entrance to the wide open ocean but mostly for recreational purposes. If you go on a good clear day you can see as far as Anglesey and across to Menai Bridge, you can also see a few mountains and hills that eventually make up Snowdonia. As an added bonus the tea room at the end of the pier sets out a few tables and chairs for you to enjoy homemade high tea whilst you soak in the sea air. Take a good book with you and you could find yourself sitting here for the best part of the day, not bad for 50p and a couple of pounds for a scone! If you are a fan of fishing you could pay a little extra to enjoy a spot of crab catching, not ones you could take home to eat but still an exciting way to spend a sunny day. There are also numerous restaurants and pubs around if you get bored with the pier and fancy a pint all within walking distance. If you are feeling slightly more adventurous Penrhyn Port isn’t too far a walk (up a slight hill) for an up close look at some of the fishing vessels docked there and for those who have a car or fancy a further walk up another hill Penrhyn Castle is just that little bit further. An entrance fee (or a national trust membership) will get you in to visit the castle and botanic gardens for a day and possibly even throw in a tour or two and some train museum time! I haven’t yet been as I am still too poor to pay to get in but it is definitely on my list of places to go.
If a castle doesn’t take your fancy there is always the Bridge. A wonderfully quaint suspension bridge that I am pretty sure sways side to side as you walk across it. Again I have only been to the Bridge on one occasion but the views were a good enough reason to go. Halfway across you get a full view of the Menai Strait and can even see the Pier too if you look closely. On the other side another bridge (Britannica Bridge) frames the view once again in a wonderfully architectural way (selling it enough for you??). More pubs/bars await for you on either end of the bridge so for those who are finding this cultural walk a little daunting a beer is never too far away and a pack of pork scratchings too as a little more incentive to keep exploring. Apparently there are more botanic gardens further on from the bridge so one day I shall have to check this out and of course update you on all flower varieties and proximity to the pub although I am sure the pub is again just around the corner.
Continuing on with the cultural theme the town sports a vibrant Cathedral, all I have seen/ heard of it are the bells but apparently it is beautiful. Most of the time I have tried to visit there has been some sort of service (possibly because most days I remember to go is a Sunday when I can hear the bells ringing) but as I don’t fancy myself as much of a church goer again this is still on the “To Do” section of my list. I have been in to town however and wondered up the not so vast high street. Pretty standard British High Street at it’s best. All the usual shops and cafes but this one seems to have more pubs/bars than most I have been too. Obviously because the students need enough establishments for a decent bar crawl so be warned, if you visit during school term then be prepared to be inundated with college goers involved in some initiation process or just finding some inspiration to attend lectures. If you however fancy popping in to catch a glimpse of the university, this can be found in upper Bangor on College road. You can tell who all the students are from a mile away so feel free to ask some questions and introduce yourselves. They normally show you all the best bits and of course where the best bars are too. It is an impressive university building but I can’t say I have frequented many so my opinion isn’t based on much background research!
For the more adventurous types there is many a walk you can do and of course Snowdonia is really not too far away. On a side note when the sun is out the chances of having to be rescued are lowered so if you fancy yourself as a mountaineer then head up in Summer or prepare to fork out thousands for an air rescue helicopter! If you are feeling up to it I am sure some lovely local could point you in the right direction and lend you a map too. Again I am yet to achieve this but in my defence not many who come to Bangor actually go up in to the mountains! Aber falls and Penrhyn quarry are a little less strenuous but also apparently worth the little sweat that it takes to get there. If you are now feeling really in to this outdoor adventure malarkey, Penryhn quarry boasts the longest and fastest zip line in the world!! You could be soaring the skies travelling at over 100mph, 500ft in the air! Exciting stuff and worth it I reckon. Again when I get round to it and when I am feeling rich enough then I shall keep you posted on the amount of alcohol one must consume before braving this craziness. I am actually quite excited by it, its been a while since I have done any form of zip lining and this was way back when I used to be a ropes instructor on an outdoor centre! Nothing near as impressive as this so we shall see how my nerves fair when I go.
There is so much more to do around here but I feel like I am boring you to tears reeling off the endless amount of activities so I am going to stop there. Hopefully I have given you enough of a taste to be inspired to check out Trip Advisor and indeed just google Bangor in General. There is really a lot to entertain yourself with and for people of all ages. Bangor I doubt is going to be at the top of anyones list sure but if you find yourself in Wales, North Wales specifically then drop in. From here you can go to a lot of other places (Portmeirion and Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch) to name only two. And if none of the above appeals to you some typically English beaches are not too far away and if all else fails still then even a beer with a view is on offer. Really how could you go wrong?!?! As Wales goes though, Bangor has lived up to my expectations. I was promised wet and windy and I got sun and summer so until the terrible weather sets in I have high hopes for the next three years. Perhaps settling down to do an undergraduate may not be such a bad idea after all. Let’s see how it goes though, I am only at the beginning of a long three years!
Next Stop: Ashburton, Devon for some 25th Birthday celebrations. Eeks
P.S. I have been to Wales before so sadly this isn’t another country to add to my growing 13 but with 17 left to go and only 5 years until my big 3-0 I think I am in a good spot to start taking over Europe. Watch this space for more adventures to come 🙂
You can also follow my daily antics on Twitter (@NomadicGoldon) and Instagram (olliegoldson)!!