Kelsey Chrane spends weekend in Wales

by   |  07.18.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

This weekend was absolutely incredible! Possibly one of the best in my entire life! We left on Friday morning and headed to Cardiff, Wales on a train. Europe is has an amazing train system, which allows people to travel very quickly and easily cross-country. We had one transfer, but only traveled for about two hours and over 100 miles. Whenever we arrived at Cardiff, we checked into our hostel, The Bunkhouse, right downtown and then headed out to lunch. For lunch, I had traditional Welsh rarebit. Although it sounds very intimidating, it is actually just toast with cheese spread on it. It was tasty, and I enjoy trying new and different things. After lunch, we went to check out Cardiff Castle. It has been there for hundreds of years, and the city of Cardiff has literally grown up around the castle. The history that is around every corner here is absolutely incredible. I cannot even explain what it’s like to walk down the street and see castles, as well as views that belong on postcards. According to their website, “Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions and a site of international significance. During 2000 years of history, the Castle has been a Roman Garrison, a Norman stronghold and in Victorian times was transformed into a gothic fairytale fantasy.”

Saturday morning we got up early to make sure that we made it to our appointment at the horse farm on time. The sky looked a little stormy, and we were all a little bit concerned about how that was going to work out. We made it to our train and rode to Brigend, and then took a taxi to the Ogmore Farm Riding Center. There were castle ruins right on the land of the Ogmore Farm, and we could hardly wait to get a closer look. After spending some time exploring the ruins, we still ended up getting there a little bit early, but they let us wait in the tack room until it was time for us to go on our ride. The door was open, so we could see that it was continuing to rain. So we said a little prayer, and tried not to worry about it. We put on riding helmets and boots, and by the time we got ready, the sky had cleared and the day was looking very beautiful. We rode across rivers and through the Welsh countryside. The views were breath-taking and gorgeous. I absolutely felt like I was in a movie, forging streams, riding through the countryside, and enjoying the beautiful weather that God had provided us. We rode to the ocean, and Kaitlyn and I got to run our horses down the beach. It was unbelievable. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for my entire life, and I know that I will cherish these memories forever.

After we got back from our horseback ride we had lunch in a charming little cafe right by the farm. We then decided to walk to cliffs that were about three miles away, in Southerndown. We asked one of the workers how to get there, and had to make a pretty impressive climb to get there. However, once again, we walked through some amazingly beautiful countryside, that was right out of the movie PS I love you. After some assistance from some very helpful Welsh people, we made it to the cliffs. We went down onto the beach, as well as hiking up to the top of the cliffs. We also got to explore some more castle ruins, but these were even more special than the one before. Inside the ruins, there were incredible gardens. It was like we had stepped back in time into the Secret Garden. While working in Washington DC, I had the opportunity to watch the introductory video to the Capitol tour. In the opening scene of the movie, it shows a panoramic view of the coast of California (I believe). From the first moment I saw the view of the waves rolling in towards towering cliffs, I knew that I wanted to see something that beautiful in my lifetime. Incredibly enough, I was able to see a view like that less than two months after I realized that I wanted to. What an amazing blessing. After we finished exploring, we walked back to a nearby restaurant to call a cab that took us back to Bridgend and the train station. Before we left, we had dinner at a restaurant that served traditional Irish food.

The next day was our last day in Cardiff, which broke my heart. There has never been a more perfect weekend! We went to breakfast as a group and had a lovely meal of traditional Welsh food. After breakfast we walked to Llandaff Cathedral, the most famous cathedral in Cardiff. The parishioners were extremely welcoming and very kind to our group. According to their website “Llandaff Cathedral stands on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain.  In the sixth century St Dyfrig founded a community close to the ford where the Roman road crossed the river Taff. Nothing remains of the original church but a Celtic Cross that stood nearby can still be seen near the door of the Chapter House.” After church we headed back to Oxford on the train. A great reminder that even perfect times cannot last forever, but I’m exciting to have more new and exciting experiences over the next several weeks!