Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Llandudno Diaries: Day 4-5 - Thursday 23 June 2016/Friday 24 June 2016

We always seem to be on holiday when there's a referendum taking place.  We were in Croatia during the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, and it turned out that we would also be on holiday in Wales at the time of the UK EU 'Brexit' referendum. Prior to both holidays, we had cast our postal votes.

Today is our last full day in Llandudno, a chance to pick up some last-minute souvenirs and one more thing on the to-do list. 

On Tuesday we had gone up the Great Orme in a vintage coach, but there is another way to get up to the summit: the Great Orme Tramway, which according to this poster, was built in 1902.  

It's a funicular system where you board one tram at the Victoria Station (on Church Walks) and then change over at the halfway station onto another tram which takes you up to the summit.  The Summit Complex (below) has a restaurant, cafe bar, children's play area and gift shop.

But most importantly, there are the stunning views - all the way over to Anglesey and Snowdonia in one direction, and Llandudno and Conwy in the other.  Doing some research for the trip, we discovered that on a clear day you could see as far as Blackpool Tower and the Isle of Man but there was no sign of them today.  But it doesn't really matter, because today's views are just fabulous anyway.

You can also take the cable cars (above) but we decide to pass on that one!

Standing on top of the Great Orme turned out to be a personally very emotional experience.  It is such a calm, peaceful place, surrounded by all the beauty of nature. Standing here, it's even more difficult to understand why the world is such a dark place.   We are completely overwhelmed by the beauty of some of the landscapes, many of which recall more continental views; almost fjord-like at times.

We spend some time at the summit (marked by the stone above) with stunning 360 degree views all around.  After this, it's time for lunch and souvenir shopping in the Summit Complex.  We then go on to explore the complex after lunch.

The boxing-themed Randolph Turpin bar (above) is a tribute to the late world champion boxer, who actually once owned the Summit Complex.

After some more exploring it's time to head back down on the tram into Llandudno. The tram journey is great fun and a must-do if you ever go on holiday to this cracking North Wales town.

As it's our last full day in Llandudno, there's just some time for some last-minute shopping.  There's a good selection of shops in Mostyn Street, pictured below. Well-known high street names share space on the street with souvenir shops where you can buy all your usual holiday souvenirs, from rock to soft toys. T-shirts and much more. You can also find a few good restaurants in and around Mostyn Street, and of course the ubiquitous fish and chip shops.

Which brings me on to those pesky seagulls: a more unwelcome aspect of the British seaside holiday. Yes I know it's the seaside, and it's their natural habitat, and they deserve to be there more than we do...but boy, are they annoying!  As seasoned travellers (and in my case, a veteran of Blackpool holidays since early childhood) we are well aware that you don't eat anything in the vicinity of swooping seagulls: unfortunately there are still some people who will still risk life and limb eating their takeaway fish and chips in the street!

 Above: Mostyn Street. 

After a stop for coffee, it's time to head back to the hotel to do some packing as we're going home tomorrow.

One more evening meal to follow, at yet another one of those nice restaurants in Mostyn Street, followed by our last late-night stroll along the promenade.

The morning after.....

In just a few seconds, everything changed.  

I switch on my tablet to find out the result of the Brexit referendum. And I can't believe what I see. You know when you have a really bad dream which is so vivid that you can't believe it was only a dream?  Or more appropriately, a nightmare?  The only difference here is that we don't wake up. 

'Brexit' is happening.  51.9% of the UK voting electorate have voted for this country to leave the European Union.  I don't want to be dramatic, but our immediate reaction is heartbreak.  We can't believe what is happening.  The nightmare is real.  And then we discover that 62% of voters in our own country, Scotland, have voted to remain in the EU, but due to the geographical politics in this country, it won't matter.  We will be overruled, and Scotland will have to leave the EU against our will.  I could go on, but that's for another time and place.  One day I will write a blog post over at Random Ramblings about this, but right now I am too shocked, too hurt, too sad. And above all, too angry. 

Minutes before we go for breakfast, David Cameron resigns as prime minister.  Subsequent days will bring political turmoil and upheaval on a level pretty unfamiliar to the usual boring British political landscape.  

We sit in stunned silence during breakfast.  But we need to move on and get ready to travel home. Llandudno station is a short walk from the promenade and in a town with many Alice in Wonderland references, then it's appropriate that we leave Llandudno with a final 'Mad Hatter's Tea Party' at the station :)

Unfortunately there are a couple of hiccups outwith our control which spoil our journey home.  Today hasn't been the best day, has it?  But we eventually arrive home, despite the travel delays.

We have left Llandudno behind, but like many of our travel destinations over the years, it will live long and fondly in our memories.  Our first trip to Wales was a very enjoyable one and we would look forward to returning there.  We were lucky to have such a great holiday: the weather was lovely, dry and warm (a big change from home, where rain is the norm) and there were so many activities to keep us interested during our short break.

Over the years we have travelled to so many fascinating destinations across Europe, but Llandudno proved that destinations much closer to home have so much to offer.  Although 2016 has been a horrible year in so many ways, faithful travelling companion and I will look back and remember two very memorable short break holidays in the UK - London and Llandudno.  Both so very different, yet both of them are essential travel destinations.

Thank you Llandudno for a fabulous holiday.  Fingers crossed that we will return there some day :))

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