Caernarfon, a designated ‘Royal Community’ is located in north eastern Wales along the A487. The area has been inhabited by man since before the time of historical record. Ancient Celtic tribe – the Ordovices lived in this region by the 8th century, BC.
Caernarfon has had a few spelling changes, Carnarvon and Caernarvon being previous anglicized incarnations.
In the 5th century Caernarfon became part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. It almost became the capitol of Wales, losing out in the end to Cardiff.
This area has the highest population of Welsh speakers in Wales and it can be heard everywhere.
We walked the streets with big grinning faces, listening to passers by speak their native tongue.
We window shopped while we decided where we might eat, enjoying (difficult to discern!) conversation with exceptionally friendly locals.
Along our tour, we had been collecting fridge magnets as souvenirs.
As cheesy as that is, I like a colourful fridge and the daily reminder of life elsewhere and a trip well enjoyed is also welcomed.
We were looking for a trinket shop when it became very apparent that none were open. We had spent the last few commerce hours walking aimlessly around the narrow, shadowy streets.
Now, as usual, our presence did not go unnoticed in Caernarfon.
We had walked the main area a few times, and I had stood in awkward places to snap photos. Clearly, we were tourists!
As I started to get upset thinking it was possible we might miss our Welsh magnet moment altogether, a friendly shop owner came out to invite us into his closed store.
The elder gentleman had a little laugh with my husband at my desperation and worry over something as insignificant as a magnet – and he let us know he had seen us zig zagging all over town.
We had a friendly chat about the remarkable Welsh language, learned a few phrases that did not stick with us for more than a moment, discussed Canadian history a bit, got our souvenirs and headed out to find some food.
I have a favourite form of sustenance, and just a few doors down from the friendly magnet man we found it. Indian fare is at the top of my list. We got some take out and grabbed a bench across from Caernarfon Castle.
The castle sits in a somewhat unusual position, with ‘downtown’ on one side, a main roadway on the other and sandwiched in by tidal waters.
It fell into disrepair for a number of years, and some of the upgrades are remarkably modern.
It reminds me a bit of the Ljubljana Castle in Slovenia (more on Slovenia later). It was in a terrible state and rebuilt in a very practical manner using concrete and cable.
We thought the above sign, located beside a bench by the castle, was an excellent representation of what we had experienced in Wales;
“If you drink alcohol in this area when asked not to by Police, you may be fined”
Really? If an officer asked you stop drinking in this very public place and you refused he may or may not give you a fine? Gee, not only is public drinking strictly against the law in Canada, if you refuse an officers request for anything, you certainly WILL be fined – or worse.
But here in Caernarfon Wales, the people are undeniably amicable and easy going. Smiling and whistling as they walk down the street, waving to each other and us, laughing and making jokes (sometimes at us, as we would soon discover!). Quite pleasant.
The next leg of our tour would take us into Snowdonia National Park, named after the areas tallest mountain range, Snowdon.
Additional photos in the slideshow.