In my last post, I wrote that I was disappointed I had not travelled the UK as much as I had hoped I would. So, in order to do some last-minute cultural exploration, I embarked on a day trip to a beach town called Llandudno.
About the trip
This trip was organised by the university Give It A Go programme. They arranged a coach to take us to and from our destination for a small £20 fee.
Llandudno is a beach town in the North of Wales, about 3 hours away from Sheffield. It is known for its long stretching pier, old-fashioned tramway up in the hills, and also the Great Orme Mines.
As our visit fell just outside of tourist season and the weather was absolutely horrendous, our day in Llandudno was very non-typical. Many parts of the town were difficult to reach because of the weather, and also some attractions, such as the tramway, were closed. Nevertheless I had a wonderful day in the good company of my friend Saida.
I had visited the British seaside a number of times before. From what I remember, I have been to Dover, Brighton, Howth, and Whitby.
Yet every place is different, and even today I learned a few new things about British seaside culture. For one, it is very typical to have lots of sweet shops in town where you can buy rock (aka candy canes) as souvenirs. I have quite the sweet tooth, so naturally I purchased some of these tasty Llandudno specialties myself.
Other things I have learned from coastal towns: fish and chips are particularly popular on the coast, Britain is really not always that cold and rainy (though this day in Llandudno was a bad example), and you can actually find palm trees in the UK!
Llandudno has a beautiful long promenade which was extremely difficult to get to on this windy day. My friend Saida and I literally had to throw ourselves against the wind with heads bowed down to make it there, while at the same time struggling with ice cold rain blowing hard into our faces. Every time we lifted our feet to take another step, we were nearly blown away.
In The Netherlands, people love going to the sea on a windy day, but our coasts are also very different. As far as I know, all our coasts are hidden by dunes and nature, rarely ever by as many buildings and architecture as the coast of Llandudno was. This means that in Llandudno, the wind constantly changes direction as it moves between buildings, making the walk unpredictable and somewhat dangerous.
Even though I could barely see what I was doing, I managed to snap some pictures of the coast overlooking the Irish Sea. Mind you, these pictures look much more serene than the scene actually was.
As we had little chance of exploring the outside, we headed to a comfortable inside attraction: the Mostyn Gallery. It sits in the centre of Llandudno just a little off the high street, and it is the largest gallery in Wales displaying contemporary art.
This was by far my favourite activity of the day and not just because we got to be warm and dry inside. Generally I like visiting art galleries as the collections are often diverse – Mostyn showcased a mix of British and American art, for example. It is also one of my favourite things to do because galleries in the UK are usually free to visit, whereas in The Netherlands you would pay a high price. (For comparison: tickets to Museum Voorlinden, for example, cost €17.50, and they don’t offer a student discount.)
The main reason why I enjoyed the gallery so much is because towards the end of our visit, as we were exploring the art upstairs, we found a small room where they appeared to be doing marketing research. They were actively trying to get visitors involved and let us express our opinions in fun, creative ways. My favourite activity here was a Polaroid assignment, where we got to go back into the gallery and take pictures of things that we found noteworthy.
At the end of our day we sat down at an ice cream parlour where, fortunately, they also served food and drink suitable for such dreadful weather. It honestly felt like quite a lovely and British way to conclude this day.
I got a regular tea and tried toasted teacakes for the first time. A significant choice, considering I am a very picky eater and I do not like raisins at all.
Favourite seaside destinations
I actually never think of visiting the seaside, and I don’t know why. Perhaps I take the coast for granted as it is so easy to get to in The Netherlands.
Now that I am getting more keen on travelling, I do wonder what your favourite seaside destinations are. Which places on the coast (not just within the UK) should I really visit? Please do share!
Special thanks to my friend Saida for accompanying me on this wild trip, and for taking a couple of pictures! You can find her on Instagram.