Caernarfon, in north Wales, was my next stop after Cardiff during my Christmas trip. Unlike Cardiff where many people still speak English, most people of Caernarfon speak Welsh. Nevertheless, to me, a person who knows nothing about Welsh, Caernarfon is a much more friendly place than Cardiff.
After getting off the train at the train station of Caernarfon, I got on a bus to the town centre of Caernarfon. Caernarfon is a small town. Even when the bus had reached the town centre (the bus terminus), I was still not aware of that because I had not expected the town could be such small. Sitting beside me was an old man. He talked to me in Welsh, seeming to tell me that I should get off then. I got off the bus. He then came to me again. Although I could not understand what he said, I knew he was trying to offer help to me. I showed him the name and address of my accomodation both in English and Welsh. He hesitated and said something in Welsh. I knew he would not be able to help me. I patted on his shoulder, telling him in English that it was okay (Although he did not speak English, I knew he understood, just like I understood what he said). I moved on, feeling warm in my heart.
I stayed in Black Boy’s Inn, an old inn dating back to 1522. This was the first and the only inn I had ever stayed. Initially I was worried about the noises from the pub of the inn. Fortunately my room was at the far rear of the inn and surprisingly not only was the room quiet, it had a good view as well – looking out to the town wall. (The inn had a restaurant and the meals they provided were delicious and plentiful in amount with reasonable price.)
When I arrived the inn (it was three days before Christmas day), I wished to change the type of the room from the one I have booked, namely single room with shared bathroom, to single ensuite. “Yes, you can,” the manager of the inn told me. “Then how much?” I asked, expecting he would quote me a higher price than my initial booking price. After thinking for a while, he said, “Same price.” I could not believe my ears. “Same price as my booking price?” “It is Christmas time!” he replied. It immediatey reminded me of “A Christmas Carol” of Charles Dickens. In that book, a miser had learnt to care about people through his experience during Christmas. It was Christmas time! It was the time we showed our kindness to the people around.
Caernarfon castle is now a World Heritage site. It was built between 1283 and 1301 by Edward I. During his reign as a king of England from 1272 to 1307, he conquered the Welsh and built massive castles to keep his rule secure.
The Caernarfon castle, intended as a seat of power and as a symbol of English dominance over the subdued Welsh, is architecturally one of the most impressive of all of the castles in Wales. It had two gateways defended by strong gatehouses. It also had seven towers lining its walls (which themselves were up to twenty feet thick).
As with all of the castles of Edward I, Caernarfon was built on the shoreline to allow easy supply routes from the sea.
Caernarfon was defended in two parts – the castle and the town walls. Built at the same time as the castle, the town walls was an 800 yard circuit with eight towers and two twin towered gateways. The towers were situated 70 yards apart, the southern end of the circuit was blocked by the castle walls. The town walls were entirely surrounded by water filled moats.
There was a pier with a good sea view of Caernarfon.
The market in Caernarfon was open on Saturdays at the town square.
A small amusement park was temporarily set up in the town centre for Christmas.
The whole town was resonant with the Christmas carols (broadcast from the billboard in the town square). A joyful town!
There was an arts gallery there. The building of the gallery was not at all attractive. I was not even aware that it was an arts gallery if I was not told by him, a kind passer-by. While I was taking the picture of the gallery (on the most left below), he approached me and said, “I have never seen anyone taking the picture of this building.” Obviously the building was ugly, or at least not at all special to him. I explained to him that the building was not pretty but special. After he knew that I was a traveller, he told me where I could find a cafe in the gallery and the best place to take the picture of the castle. My heart was warm again.
Another time, while I was taking a picture of the castle, another passer-by came to me, offering to take a picture for me (obviously she had noticed I was travelling alone). My heart was full of joy again.
A gesture of kindness, no matter how small it is, can make the world different. “It is Christmas time!” I will remember.