Friday, February 22, 2013

Aberystwyth, Wales

View from Aberystwyth Castle


Aberystwyth has been for me what an ashram is for yoga practitioners. It's an odd comparison I know. It's strange for me too that a place with such miserable weather, moldy, damp walls, and up hill both ways walking would be my sanctuary. But it is. I have been lucky enough to come here at two different times, once in October and once now in February. Both times the weather has been cold but sunny, windy, but clear.  I haven't seen much of the surrounding area, but that's not why I was here. 

Student housing along the beach
Wales has been my hideaway from reality and a dream job that turned sour. A three and a half hour train ride from the Birmingham airport transports me to another world. When I'm here, I can walk on the rocky beach watching the frigid, foamy waves or sit on the grassy field and watch the sheep frolicking in the sun. Being here is like taking a trip back in time. The town is filled with old shops selling "vintage" items that no one is calling vintage. The book stores are stocked with spotted old volumes with prices no one would even think of paying. And the pubs speak to another time altogether boasting names like "Ship and Castle," "Cooper Arms," and "The Scholars."There is even the remnants of a castle that has seen better days. It's a university town with the requisite old Hogwarts-like buildings and idealistic students. It surely isn't the bustling city of Amsterdam where I currently reside, but it definitely feels more like home. 

There are some really great cafes like The Tree House which serves wonderful fresh organic food and Salt, a great place to grab a burger and a pint. It's a summer tourist destination for UK beach-goers, so the promenade is lined with shops, restaurants, and B&B's. You can always find a group of hungry seagulls circling the nearby fish and chips shop which is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. 

In the sun, Aberystwyth is stunning, but in the cloudy rain you want to do nothing more than curl up with a good book and a heavy blanket. But isn't that what hideaways are for?