One of the benefits of my job is that sometimes I get the chance to travel abroad. I’m not a frequent traveler, the last trip was in 2019 and before that, 2016, especially not compared to some of my colleagues who seem to be on the road more often than being at home. Anyway, this year I was lucky enough to be able to go to Aberystwyth in Wales to do some work. I think I’ve been to Wales once before … but I’m not certain, it was many years ago … but I’ve always wanted to visit. My plan was to take the train to Arlanda, fly to Schiphol, fly to Birmingham, and then take the train to Aberystwyth. Everything started well, I walked from my office down to the train station and waited for the train.
The train was on time and everything seemed to go well. Notice the word “seemed”, first there was a minor incident with a water bottle.
Then, when we were halfway to Arlanda, 3-4h into the train ride, I got a message that read “your flight has been cancelled” … gahhhh. Fortunately, I got some help to make a new reservation, but since the new flight was leaving for Bromma, I had to find somewhere to stay the night in Stockholm.
Anyway, the day after, I walked around a little in Stockholm while waiting for the flight.
Instead of going to Schiphol, I was now going to Brussels, where I had to wait for a couple of hours before my next flight to Birmingham.
I arrived in Birmingham and had to run around a bit to figure out where my train was but managed to catch the train to Aberystwyth with 8 minutes to spare — plenty of time. Then a 3h train ride (why do the trains have open windows? The noice is far too loud for my taste) to Aberystwyth, where I was met by my friends, and taken to the place where I was going to stay (a very nice house from the 1600s).
I didn’t have that much time for photography (remember: work trip, not vacation) so I mostly took various snapshots while walking around in the city … but I like snapshots! Anyway, Aberystwyth is a fairly small city, where everything in the city centre is within easy walking distance … OK, the hills can make it a bit more taxing than a map might suggest. It’s a very pleasant town and very different from Aberdeen, the last town I visited in the UK. While Aberdeen is mostly gray granite, Aberystwyth is full of colors.
I enjoyed walking around the city and looking at the buildings. To me, they looked exactly how I imagine a small city in the UK looks like. However, there is more to Aberystwyth than buildings. Since people in the UK seem to have a special connection to the sea, there is of course a promenade along the beach.
And it should be no surprise that the sea seems to play a huge role in what people do in their spare time. There were people taking a bath (or trying to take a bath 😋), having a picnic, just sitting watching the sea, surfing, competing, etc.
Away from the beach
There is, of course, more to Aberystwyth than the city centre. Standing on a hill, you can see how Aberystwyth stretches out in the valleys and hill sides around the city centre.
Something almost every university I’ve seen has in common is the “architecture” and Aberystwyth University is no exception. I will show one photo without any further comments.
We were also a bit mystified by “The Hat” statue close to the National Library of Wales, why on earth would anyone make a statue of a hat? I thought it was a fun statue, but I couldn’t really figure out why, but then I was shown two YouTube videos, Michael Sheen and Yma o hyd, after which everything made sense.
I’ve never heard about Hay-on-Wye before this trip. The main reason why people go here are the bookshops, there are numerous bookshops here. Surprisingly many for a place of this size. In fact, there are more bookshops here than in many much larger cities. It was fun to walk around and browse the bookshops, but since I had to carry everything back home, I just bought a few books that would be difficult to find at home.
When we were done with the bookshops, we took a typical english road (for me that is, having watched too many Midsomer Murders episodes 😜) up in the hills before dinner. Then back to Aberystwyth.
The day after, we visited the Dyfi Osprey Project to … ehh, look at the Ospreys. It’s a wonderful place, I highly recommend a visit. First, they have set up 4K video cameras around one of the nests, and then had a large screen in the visitor centre which made it possible to see what was happening in great detail. You can view the stream on YouTube. Secondly, it’s so very peaceful there! I could sit there for hours just looking at the surroundings and listening to what was happening around me. And perhaps most importantly: there were no mosquitos around 👍🏻.
After the Ospreys, we went up in the mountain. The roads are … interesting, you would rather not have a huge vehicle when driving on these roads. Anyway, it’s beautiful up in the hills and I could spend quite some time exploring this area. What looked a bit worrying to me was the Nant-y-Moch Reservoir, to me, the water level seemed very low, worrying low. But I’m no expert, so I could be utterly wrong.
After 7–8 days in Aberystwyth, it was time to go home. This time everything, almost, went according to plan. I also discovered that my changed flight going to the UK was actually a blessing in disguise. The passport control in Schiphol is very slow … in fact, I would say extremely slow, especially compared to the time it took when going to the UK (about 20-25 seconds). I will avoid traveling via Schiphol in the future. The only problem I had going home was that the train was about 1h late from Arlanda … but we were a few minutes early to Umeå, so I’m not complaining.
Other miscellaneous from the trip. Most importantly, avoid Marmite!!! There are other, much better. ways to get your B vitamins.
One really good idea I saw was these “railings” (?) that made it really simple to push a bike up the stairs
Knitting can be done everywhere
Stones have faces
Never give up, even if you’re in a non-ideal environment
Some random flowers
I really liked my trip to Aberystwyth, and would love to come back. I would also like to see more of Wales, perhaps travel north up to Snowdonia and do some hiking. It would probably be best to rent a small camper van to make it possible to travel around to all the places I want to see.