Friday, 4 June 2010

Britrail - To the Summit with Snowdon Moutain Railroad

Today’s plan was to be in Chester by 9 am, in Bangor, Wales by 10 and in Mount Snowdonia National Park in the afternoon. 

Wyona and I have lightened the luggage. 

I can lift the carry-on luggage with one finger now. 

For the last three days we have been packing 2 carry-on’s, 2 bags, 2 purses and one camera case. 

Each day we bring along a couple of 2 litre bottles of ginger ale in case I get sick – which is better than bringing along a whole medicine kit, but dragging that around all day in our luggage as a preventative measure is only increasing the muscle strength of the person who is dragging the suitcase.

Don’t follow us when it comes to moving through our train itinerary. 

We took the Virgin Train Line today, an early morning ride. 

We have been travelling the Britrail choices now for 14 days and today we discovered this line serves a beautiful warm breakfast and salad and sandwiches for lunch. I told Wyona that clinches it. Our final day will be all Virgin Railroad trips – I don’t care where the train is going now. I only care that we go in style all day.

“You won’t get there any faster than by going with me.” 

That is what the bus driver of the Red Rover told Wyona when she asked for directions on how to get to the railroad. 

For the price of £4.80 to him, the two of us could go from the train station in Bangor to Llanoberis, home of the Snowdon Mountain Railroad line. 

He was comfortable driving at break-neck speeds around tight corners and comfortable with putting his feet on the gas and on the brake with equal speed, though it was hard to tell how the rhythm of that punctuation between fast and slow would be created.

Wyona was moving the luggage into a secure place in front of our seats when he hit the brakes, and she shot down the isle, one hand remaining on the bar of the cage she was moving the luggage to, but the rest of her body jolting in the isle. 

She stabilized herself with one arm and when she quit swinging I said to her, “One more place on your body that hurts.”

“My only solution is to take more pain killers,” she said.

At the Llanberis ticket office was a sign rolling along their electronic marquee: “All trains sold for the day.”

“All trains fully booked” was the text written on the sandwich board beside the ticket wicket as well.

“Any possible chance of a ticket for today,” said Wyona.

“No,” was the reply.

“Then how about tomorrow,” she said. “We have come from Canada to go on this railroad and we have two more possible days. “

“I can give you tomorrow at 12:30 pm,” the ticket master said.

“Fine,” she said. “We can make it back here from London at that time. We did it today. See, it is 12:27, so we can make it."

He picked up the phone and spoke with someone using his Welsh dialect. “Here,” he continued to her. “How many tickets to you need. I can give you two for today at 2:30 pm.

“Are they good seats?” she said.

“The very best. Guard seats.”

So we sat in the front cab with the man who checks that the timing of the train is just right, that it is on the right track and his third job is to keep the loud speaker going that gives the description of what is happening around every corner.

My favourite line? 

“You are going to see five kingdoms when you get to the top of the mountain: the Kingdom of Wales, the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of Scotland, the Kingdom of Ireland and the fifth? The Kingdom of Heaven.”

The train slowed down to a stop when a new lamb whose mother was at its side, only hustled down the track, instead of hustling off of the track.

"They get shorn in July," said that guard who was with us.

The gulls swooped and soared at the top of the mountain.

The gorges were deep, the cliffs high, the valley’s miles, beneath us

One hundred and fifty thousand people take this train ride every year.

“I walked it one year,” said the female conductor. 

“I couldn’t walk for one week afterward,” she continued.

I walked it also, said a man – in the winter and we took along a guide dog to help preserve our lives.

Wyona and I had read our guidebooks, the ones that told us to dress for the cold weather. So we had seaters, scarves, gloves, our black all weather jackets and our umbrellas. All of that was a mistake. The weather was lovely and warm. 

We peeled off the layering of clothing. 

I got a sunburn.

We call the seats we had in the carriage, the royal seating for our view was the view from the cab.

How lucky was that.



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