First I took the train from London to Manchester, where I was greeted by Ian and his wife Becca. They took me around Manchester's Northern Quarter, which is the hip area of town with many good bars, restaurants, and shops. Ian nicely put up with us girls doing some shopping as Becca showed me one of her favorite clothing stores - Thunderegg. They carry dresses from Lindy Bop, a brand Jo had recommended to me while in Bristol, so I was happy to be able to try on some pieces and get a feel for their fit in case I want to order things when I'm back home in the States. You all know I love a good novelty print!
Next we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, took a photo for their display, and viewed planes, trains, and automobiles.
|I liked the chandeliers|
I also got to enjoy some kitty time with their two cats, and I think Roger enjoyed having me there only because it offered him a new place to curl up, in my suitcase.
|If I fits, I sits.|
We had lunch at the "Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop", although several other places in town also claim to be the place where it originated. This one seemed to have the most awards and legitimacy to its claim.
We had another lazy evening watching movies, which was fine by me since it had been a very busy couple of weeks for me. We had gotten our puddings to go, to eat after dinner, and I also picked up this local porter.
On Saturday I said goodbye to Ian and Becca and boarded a train for Chester, to meet up with the last of my girl squad, Natalie.
Natalie and I met in my first year through the student radio station and we would often go to her hometown of Chester since it was the biggest city near Bangor to do shopping.
She walked me around the city showing me what was new since my last visit in 2011, and we returned to old places I had been several times.
Chester is famous for being one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain, its Tudor and Victorian buildings, and its Roman history.
The other half is still buried and partially underneath an abandoned building - but because the building is a historically listed building it cannot be knocked down in order to excavate the other side even though it might bring more tourism to the city if they have a fully unearthed amphitheater. According to Natalie, there is talk of renovating the building into a bar/restaurant with sections of see through flooring with some excavation of the amphitheater underneath, which I think would be really cool if they manage to do it.
Saturday was one of the hottest days of the year and with no a/c, it made for a tiring walk around the city and an ice cream stop was sorely needed.
Next, we checked out the ruins of St. John the Baptist church which was originally founded by King Aethelred in 689 and was used as Chester's first cathedral.
After our city wander, we headed back to Natalie's. As I mentioned, it was a pretty hot day, so we popped into a nearby shop and bought an inflatable pool to cool off in.
|Cause we're classy, mature adults|
Sunday was Father's Day and Natalie and her fiance had family commitments, so I took the opportunity to take the train back to Bangor and see how things had changed since I left it 8 years ago.
The train journey is one of my favorites in Britain, taking you along the north Wales coast with the mountains of Snowdonia National Park to the south.
North Wales has one of the highest concentrations of castles (and some of the best preserved!) in Europe, and you pass several on the journey. One of my favorites is Conwy, whose walls back up almost to the train.
|Creoso i Fangor - Welcome to Bangor!|
|Weird new sculpture on the hill the university sits on|
|Inside Pontio, the Arts & Innovation Center constructed since I left. It was way behind schedule and over budget, as these things often are.|
|At the bottom of the hill, next to Pontio, is a WWI memorial. Pontio looks quite out of place between this and the university building.|
|View from the university balcony|
|More Welsh! This road is where the dorm site I lived on in my 1st year was. Imagine having to write your address all the time with this!|
At the end of the pier are some tea rooms, so I sat and had a cream tea.
|Where the mountains meet the sea|
|Bangor Cathedral with the top of the uni in the background|
Historically, to be granted the status of a city in the U.K., there had to be a cathedral. Although Bangor only has a population of about 19,000 (10,500 of which are the students!), it has had the status of city since 1886 and was the only "city" in Wales until Cardiff officially became one in 1905.
It was nice to reminisce a bit, but going back to the city when all of my friends were not there was not really the same. The high street seemed a bit run down and didn't have the same charm that drew me to it originally. I think it is a good place to study because the university offerings and services are so strong, and it is nice to explore the nearby villages and national park, but I think I'm more of a big city gal myself.
In the late afternoon I headed back to Chester and had a nice (vegetarian!) bbq with Natalie and her fiance, again with our legs in the pool for comfort.