North Wales: A Conversation with Katherine Shanahan
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where do you live? What made you decide to go to Wales?
My name is Katherine. Originally from New Zealand, I relocated to Berlin and have been living there for 6 years. I work for a multi-mode travel company called GoEuro.com and when I’m not travelling, I’m usually embracing the entertainment Berlin always has to offer!
I recently went to Wales to visit a friend of mine. I didn’t know much about the area before going but heard that it was really beautiful and green.
How long did you go for? How did you spend your time?
It was a short visit, just for a week. The entire north of the country is basically deemed as an area of outstanding natural beauty. My friend lives in Ruthin, a super quaint market town where King Arthur supposedly frequented and beheaded his rival. There’s also a pretty grand castle there, with grounds around the peripheries that visitors are free to roam in and if you’re lucky you’ll spot a peacock or two. The market town is a really good base to explore the rest of the area including Snowdonia National park, the island of Angelsey that has really lovely beaches and lakes like Llyn Brenig. Its really all about the nature in North Wales!
What were your most memorable experiences? What were the biggest disappointments?
I’d say my most memorable experience was climbing the Mount Snowdon Peak, the highest in England and Wales. Providing you go there on a clear day, you can see for miles and miles! I wouldn’t say there were any ‘big’ disappointments when visiting Wales – apart from maybe that it rains a fair bit.
What do you wish you knew before you went?
I think getting a few token phrases in Welsh wouldn’t go a miss, like Bore Da (good morning). It’s entirely unnecessary for communication around the area but the locals will really appreciate it.
Any favorite restaurants/hotels/hostels/
sites you’d like to recommend? Tell us what made them great!
In the small village of Rhewl, there is afternoon tea cafe/ trinket shop called Suger Plum Tea Room. You can get Welsh classics like Welsh Rarebit and Bara Brith, and it sells vintage furniture and Emma Bridgewater mugs. I’d also recommend checking out CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology) which is an eco-centre located slap bang in the middle Wales. Its isolated location is required for the nature of the work, which focuses on teaching and practising sustainable development on a 7 acre, a former slate quarry. The attractions for visitors include interactive visuals and learning how to live and be more sustainable with short courses on organic farming, sustainable architecture and more information on solar, wind and hydro-power.