Flash back Friday - UK Edition.

View from Castello di San Giusto in Trieste, Italy.

Almost three months after returning to the states, I am finally finding time to write about my two crazy weeks of travel that happened back in November. For a while I felt bad about my postal procrastination, but now I am kind of glad that I am only just getting around to it. Looking at the bright sun and smiling faces in these photos is really doing a lot for my spirits during this bleak, mid-winter deep freeze.

I had always planned to do some traveling when I went back to the UK, but kept putting it off until it was almost too late. Luckily, a couple of fateful conversations and spontaneous ticket purchases turned that around and before I knew it, I was off!

The first stop on the itinerary was Trieste, Italy (yeah, don't worry, I'd never heard of it either), to visit a friend working in a school there. My experience was complete with all the Italian standards - gelato, piazzas, wine, and shoes. Best of all, my awesome friend went out of her way to show me some sights I had never seen before. These included a tour of the lamest castle ever (sorry, but it was, we were both in agreement), and an evening wining it up at an osmiza - a regional tradition where local wine producers open up their homes to patrons as temporary "wine cafes". Osmizas are only open on a seasonal basis and serve only the house red and white, as well as bread, cheese, cured meats, and eggs to soak up the booze.

Our decision to go to find an osmiza was last minute, but I am SO glad that we did it. I could not have imagined a more perfect regional experience. Osmizas are popular and the cafe was busy, yet never crowded. The vibe was perfect, the wine delicious, and the view on the hillside, at sunset.....adequate.

After Italy, I was home for one day. Just long enough to do any necessary laundry and pack for a train ride to Northern Wales. I have never been to Wales before and didn't really know what to expect, but it did not disappoint. I was driven through Snowdonia and introduced to some of the most stunning scenery that I have EVER seen. Seriously, we are talking Lord of the Rings worthy landscape, here. I also got to go trampolining (dressed in orange jumpsuit and hard hat) in an abandoned slate mine. I, very unusually (and very stupidly), did not have my camera for most of the first (clear, beautiful) day and, therefore, did not document any of this. Typical.

I did, however, manage to remember my camera when we traveled to nearby Conwy - a gorgeous little market town, complete with castle and medieval walls that were built during the reign of Edward I.

The walls, which are beautifully preserved, can be seen peeking out from the trees in the back, just in front of the mountains.

Exploring the castle.

Ed makes a friend.

The day was gray and drizzly, but that didn't stop us. We explored every corner of the castle, marveled at the medieval arms in a nearby shop, toured the town, took a tea break, found the smallest house in Great Britain and then made a fish pie to chase the chill away. Well we didn't make the fish pie, Ed did. I would have helped, but I wasn't allowed in the kitchen...

It was a fitting end to my time in Wales, but it wasn't the end of my vacation. The next day I got on another train to Manchester. For some reason, as the trip went on I seemed to be less and less able to remember to take pictures, which was certainly the case in Manchester, where I basically didn't take any. The only photos that I managed to snap were of the Quarry Bank Mill - an 18th century cotton mill, located in Cheshire and brought to life by Channel 4's television series, The Mill.

Owen and his steam engine.

Looks like a lovely place to work...

At least the outside has some merit.

But yes, aside from that I was pretty much useless and I completely failed to document the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, our night on the town, or even our trip to the Manchester Art Gallery - except for pausing to take one photo of a dream wedding dress, which was clearly the main attraction of the exhibit, Cotton Couture.

Too bad it was made in the 1950s and clearly meant for a 20 inch waist.

I like to think that the fact that I didn't take that many pictures means that I was more focused on being fully in the moment, but I know that the truth is that I was just being lazy. For the first time in a while I was visiting three places that I had never been before and, for whatever reason, my normally fused-to-my-hands camera was just nowhere to be seen.

Ah well.

Such is life.

I guess it just means that I will have to visit all of these places again.




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