8:00am was the scheduled arrival time in Holyhead, but the timing of our morning was to suit the first of two tours we had booked - both being visits to castles built under the reign of King of England and rampant castle builder Edward I (also known as Edward Longshanks because he was tall): Caernarfon Castle and Beaumaris Castle.
Azamara Journey docked in the busy port at Holyhead located on Holy Island in the County of Anglesey, Wales. Our first morning tour was to Caernarfon Castle, so we had the opportunity to travel across Anglesey to see some of the countryside as we made our way to the castle. To put it in one sentence we’d say the landscape was mostly hedges, trees, rocky and rolling hills inhabited by plenty of cattle and black sheep. From what we could see as we travelled it appeared as though the rain was holding off, although it still did look quite grey.
When we arrived in Caernarfon it certainly looked like it had rained there earlier, but it had finished so it was dry as we left the bus to walk to the castle. The castle that stands today is from the era of King Edward I with construction starting in the year 1283, replacing a castle of Norman design that stood before it. The main entrance to the castle is actually a portion of the castle that was never finished, but regardless of that it is an impressive castle to see and explore. One thing that stood out as we walked around this castle was how narrow and low the hallways were throughout the castle. The expansive halls you see on movies and television shows don’t seem to match the actual castles of this era. There was much reference at the castle to the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales in 1969 at Caernarfon Castle. What wasn’t mentioned as far as we could see was reference to the original time this investiture was done here - that being 1911 for then Prince of Wales Edward, who became King Edward VIII for just 326 days before he abdicated the throne because of his relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The castle is quite impressive and would have been an imposing sight on the landscape in its day. We were certainly glad we had the opportunity to visit Caernarfon Castle. We took a quick look around the town before we met back up with our group at the appointed time for the bus ride back to Azamara Journey.
The timing worked out so that we could have lunch in Windows Cafe once we were back onboard the ship. Tour number two for the day took us to another of King Edward I’s castles: Beaumaris Castle. The original plan for the construction for this castle was to start just the year after work started on Caernarfon but building budgets had to have been a problem back then, too, because they didn’t actually start construction on this castle until 1295. Like Caernarfon it was never completely finished. It certainly differed in style to Caernarfon, with it being symmetrical in design and looking far less fortified. It did look more of a royal palace than fortification. Impressive to be sure and the symmetry of the design made it a more attractive castle. Here, too, we had a chance to look around the town of Beaumaris after our castle visit and made just one purchase in a local butcher shop and cafe: some world famous Anglesey Sea Salt. We were fortunate again that the threatening rain held off for our afternoon touring and there were even moment of clearing here and there.
Translation: Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio near the red cave
On our way back to the shop we did pass by a town with a contrived long name meant to be a publicity stunt to make it the railway station with the longest name when they came up with it in 1860, but now is clearly something they maintain for the tourists. Apparently there is another equally contrived but longer name somewhere else in the world, but we didn’t make the effort to look that up. Light rain started just before we returned to the port, so the day had been quite fortunate on the weather front considering the forecast and look of the sky most of the day.
Once back on board Azamara Journey we enjoyed a nice expresso at Mosaic Cafe and then returned to our room to relax a bit. The ship was on its way to the next port of call of the Isles of Scilly by the time we made our way to dinner at the main Discoveries Restaurant around 8:00pm. Following dinner we caught the tail end of Cruise Director Eric De Gray’s show in the Cabaret Lounge to end the evenings activities before retuning to our room. It was one of the few times on this trip that we took the opportunity to see any or any part of the evening shows. We could feel the ship movement again as we once again started to encounter rough seas, and as the night continued it felt to us though it was actually rougher than on the approach to Dublin. By the time we went to bed it was clear it was’t going to be too easy to fall asleep with the way we were getting moved about. One of the joys of travelling by sea.
WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.