We just returned from a two day rail trip to Aberystwyth, Wales to visit our friend Carrie. It had been 16 years since we last saw her when she visited Seattle. We spent a wonderful evening walking the waterfront and dining in a Greek restaurant while talking nonstop. Carrie is studying law and we had a wonderful time hearing about her work and discussing ethics and politics.
Aberystwyth is a small town of 16,000 residents on the mid-coast of Wales that is dominated by a University of 10,000 students. Aberystwyth University is almost 150 years old. The National Library of Wales sits adjacent to the University on a hill overlooking the town and Ceredigion Bay. Aberystwyth Arts Centre is one of the largest and busiest arts centers in Wales. These institutions all contribute to a vibrant community.
A 1 1/2 mile promenade stretches across the waterfront from Constitution Hill to the long pier and old Norman Castle at the other end. Aber, as it is known locally, is acclaimed for the beautiful sunsets over the bay and for the starlings that roost in the pier in the winter. At sunrise and sunset large swarms of these birds fly to or from their overnight roosts in the pier. The flocks fly as one organism, forming elegant shapes in the evening skies. We were a bit early in the season for the show, but there were several hundred starlings giving a hint of the airborne ballet that marks winters evenings.
The train trip took us through the English midlands to Birmingham, where we transferred to the Wales train. From Birmingham we rode to Shrewsbury and then into Wales. Yes, we did see the abbey at Shrewsbury and a glimpse of Brother Cadfael‘s Garden as we passed. The Welsh countryside is beautiful. Going out it was foggy and rainy, which lends a mysterious aura to the land. Returning on Friday on a sunny evening the light stretched among the hills creating beautiful scenes.
Today we’re back in London. In five days we return home to Seattle.