Tag Archives: Castles

Circuitous Travel~Part 5

10 Sep


Judy Wills


After a wonderful breakfast at the St. Valery Guest House in Edinburgh, we loaded up the car and headed to Wales.

Looking at the map, it is quite a distance from Edinburgh to the Eastern border of Wales. It has been so many years since we made this trip, that I honestly don’t remember all the towns and villages we passed through getting to Wales. I have a “log” where I wrote down where we went each day, and what we saw, but there are only two entries for this particular day.   I guess those two cities, with castles, were the main focus of our day.

And so, I will tell you what we saw that day. It was so awesome…and we enjoyed ourselves so much. I have not mentioned before that one of the things that has interested me and thrilled me so much on this trip – is all the castles and ruins that we have seen that were built by the Normans! And they are still standing! Many years ago, Fred and I made a trip to Greece, and the feeling of awe that I experienced there is much the same as it was on this trip to England, Scotland, and Wales. All these structures have been in existence for hundreds and hundreds of years – and are still standing! I remember Fred sitting on the stump of a column in Athens, on the Acropolis, and knowing that those buildings were there when Jesus walked the earth…and they are still standing! We stood on Mars Hill, where Paul preached his sermon. Yes, some structures or most are in ruins, but they are still there, to remind us of what was. Amazing!


Fred sitting in the priests seats in Dionysus Amphitheater at the foot of the Acropolis

In any case, our first stop in Wales was in the town on Conwy. It is on the north coast of Wales. From a website on the castles of Wales, I learned:

Jeff Thomas, author:

Words cannot do justice to Conwy Castle. The best, simple description is found in the guidebook published by CADW, the Welsh Historic Trust, which states: “Conwy is by any standards one of the great fortresses of medieval Europe.” Conwy along with Harlech is probably the most impressive of all the Welsh castles. Both were designed by Edward I’s master castle builder James of St. George, and while Harlech has a more storied past, Conwy’s eight massive towers and high curtain wall are more impressive than those at Harlech.


Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas – Conwy Castle


 Unlike Harlech however, Conwy Castle and town are surrounded by a well-preserved wall lending an additional sense of strength to the site. Conwy’s well-preserved wall helps the town maintain a medieval character lost by other Welsh castle-towns over the years. Construction of Conwy began in 1283. The castle was an important part of King Edward I’s plan of surrounding Wales in “an iron ring of castles” to subdue the rebellious population. The highly defensible wall Edward built around the town was intended to protect the English colony planted at Conwy. The native Welsh population were violently opposed to English occupation of their homeland.


Conwy Castle entrance and bridge


Mr. Thomas continues:   Conwy is a town that time has simply chosen to pass by. Despite a few modern shops, Conwy still looks very similar to the town Edward envisioned some 700 years ago. The ancient town walls, castle and simple streets offer very little to remind the visitor of the modern world. Conwy is something of a paradox. Originally a symbol of English domination of Wales, in time the Welsh managed to reclaim the town, replacing English oppression with its own medieval character. Only at Conwy and St. Davids did we get the feeling of being transported back to ancient Wales.


Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas


Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas


Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas

Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas

Credit Google Search and Jeffrey L. Thomas

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~





The Cruise of a Lifetime~Part 4

28 Feb


Judy Wills


2After the excursion to the Marksburg Castle, we were scheduled for a cruise up the Middle Rhein River (from Koblenz to Mainz), and to see all the castles along the way. Unfortunately, the area had been having a drought for some time, and the river was low.

Let me explain about the ship we were on. It is a “long” ship (443 feet), only two passenger levels, since it must pass through some “locks” along the way.


A larger, deeper, ocean-sailing ship wouldn’t be able to navigate those locks. Therefore, because the river was so low, we were unable to traverse the Middle Rhein River on the Gefjon. All the passengers (185) – and a few of the crew – were transferred to another ship for the Rhein River cruise. While our luggage and most of the crew stayed with the Gefjon, they were forced to dump of all the fresh water they had on board (over 100,000 gallons). In spite of all that, there were spots along the way where there was only 12″ of water below the ship! I guess it was a good thing we were off! Didn’t want to get grounded!

So, instead of seeing the castles from our ship, we all were transferred to the Konigsbacher – a tourist/sight-seeing boat – for the remainder of the day.


We played “cat and mouse” with the Gefjon all the way to Bingen – we would be in front for a while, then the Gefjon would be in front. Fun to watch, with the crew waving at us as we passed each other.


We did see some castles (we counted 31) while we sailed, and Carl West described them to us. However, as it was beginning to get too dark to see any other castles, Carl announced that it would be another 90 minutes before we could board the Gefjon again! Many groans!! I looked at Fred and vehemently said – “where’s my Kindle???!!!” Unfortunately, it was locked up in the safe in our room. It was a rather boring 90 minutes, for sure. Billie (our concierge) and the boat’s crew brought out cake and tea for us – charged to Viking, which was nice.


There was a flag flying on the Konigsbacher and I wondered what it represented. When I asked the crew, they said it represents their home town.



We finally stopped at Bingen, and both the Gefjon and the Konigsbacher were lashed together, so there were only a few steps to get across to get to the Gefjon.

We were finally able to get to supper at 7:30 p.m. Our table mates were Nancy and Jim from Arizona (they formerly lived in Metro West in Orlando), and Rachael and her mother, Carol, from Sacramento, California. Rachael earned her law degree from UNM (the University of New Mexico).

Bed by 10:00 p.m. and we were very tired!




~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~



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