This time our destination was Llyn Ogwen [hlin ogwen] - a lake situated in Ogwen Valley, in between mountains, secluded from civilised Wales, and also almost sealed off from all means of public transport. The first (and only) bus in the morning was scheduled to leave at 08:10 in the morning. We got up early, went to the bus station, and waited. It turned 08:05, it turned 08:10, it turned 08:15: no sign of the bus. Another bus approached the station and I decided to ask the driver for details and reassurance.
Good morning. Excuse me,..
Dach chi medru siarad Cymraeg? ...or something similar, which got me confused for a second, but then I responded: Dw i ddim yn siarad Cymraeg.
No? Ok, how can I help you?
Finally: A situation that had prompted me to try my new language! (If only to say that I don't speak it....)
The bus driver phoned the driver of the bus we needed and found out that it was not due until 08:20. In the meantime he sold us a Red Rover ticket that afforded us a day of unlimited travel in the whole county of Gwynedd. Brilliant! Why did no-one tell us about this before?
Finally we reached our destination and set out for what turned out to be a very ambitious tour.
The Tryfan - getting up there is the ultimate goal of my stay
Snowdonia is still partly covered in snow and ice and the tour of the five summits that I had planned turned out to be a bit problematic due to a lack of visible paths. But we were not defeated that easily and went up a short path that led to a lake.
On our way up we met a few other hikers, perfectly equipped with professional sportswear, hiking sticks and what-not, and saw a few wild ponies nibbling at the grass that peeped out of the icy crust here and there.
We reached the frozen lake (check).
Next, we needed to find the path that connected the five summits of the Carneddau (the name of the mountain range). From the lake there was no access to this path that ran along a ridge about 100 metres higher up. We aimed roughly and chose to scramble up the side of the hill/mountain: I went first and dug a kind of ladder into the ice with my boots. Elzelien, Rebecca and Fiepje followed in my footsteps (please marvel at the beauty of this expression).
After about half an hour of moving in this manner - draining us of our energy - we reached the path. Or at least we assumed that we had (that assumption based on a double-check with my map) - it was not visible under the cover of ice and snow. Moreover, a thick blanket of fog had crept down from the mountain top and after a short period of indecision made us turn tail and skip down again.
... yeah, alright: we did not skip. We just stepped down as quickly as we dared without slipping or spraining our ankles.
1 1/2 hours later: Back in the cold and windy cluster of houses (it was definitely NO village) at the banks of Llyn Ogwen our premonitions were confirmed: No bus due in the next 2 1/2 hours. And no pub or warm place of any kind around.
Cold and hungry, we decided to hitch a ride to Bethesda to get a bus to Bangor from there and I stuck my thumb out. Fiepje started a discussion about how to best to get a ride and while we were still discussing tactics, the first car already indicated, pulled up and a student opened the passenger door: his car was tiny but after he had heaved his bouldering equipment into the boot of the car, all four of us fitted with a little squeeze . It turned out he was going right to Bangor and we did not even need to get a bus from Bethesda (oh yes, we had paid a lot of money for the Red Rover ticket *sigh*, but that's life) but were back in our lovely home-town in no time and in the Yellow Pub for food just 5 minutes later.
I was so tired, I could have fallen asleep right there, but I made it home, had a shower and even managed to load the washing machine with my laundry. Just when I wanted to make myself some tea (with the perspective of curling up in bed with Under Milk Wood), Tom stepped into the kitchen and asked me if I wanted to come to the pub with him to watch Rugby, the Welsh national sport. The 6-Nations tournament is being held at the moment and England was playing against Ireland. I had announced my interest a few days earlier - I consider it part of my programme in becoming acquainted with the Welsh culture etc - and felt honoured to be asked. Therefore, I switched off the kettle, tried to push the fact that I was tired to the back of my mind and off we were to the pub.
There I saw men sliding and rolling around on the grass (not IN the pub, mind), after having been taken down with a well-aimed tackle by at least one opponent, jumping on top of each other, getting muddier and muddier during the course of the game - it can be quite violent, but it's definitely more interesting than football (and also 10 mins shorter!). I asked lots of questions and by the end of the game I had roughly grasped the most important rules, and I have to admit: I like it. It is fun to watch. And I know what I'll be doing next weekend.... or would be, if we were not going to Caerdydd.