Every once in a while, we journey to a place that really captures our heart and takes our breath away. It doesn’t have to be a particular romantic or awe inspiring place, like Paris or Mt. Everest, but there is something in the atmosphere that just feels right. For me, I was surprised to find this feeling hidden in the tiny city of Bangor on the north west coast of Wales.
Apart from the university, there really isn’t any particular reason for a person to visit Bangor. There are no big tourist attractions or glamorous sight seeing opportunities, an image that is often and mistakenly broadened to the country at large; but you don’t travel to deepest darkest Wales for the amusement or thrills – you come for the beauty and here, Bangor delivers in full. Childhood friend and Bangor University student S played the role of tour guide during my brief visit in the spring months of May 2011, as my family and I passed through with the intention of catch ferry to Dublin the following morning.
Nuzzled between the Irish sea and Snowdonia National Park, Bangor provides enough natural wholeness and fresh air to clear the most congested of minds. Through the woods and footpaths of Roman Camp, a small hill rises that, when scaled, rewards the hiker with glistening ocean views, all enjoyed under the watchful eyes of the rugged mountains. A walk along the pier offers a reverse scene that’s just as pleasant, with quaint houses dotting the harbor front and emerging from behind a sea of greenery.
The city itself (although it can hardly be called such a thing) is composed of winding streets and a-typical shops, something that is not particularly foreign to a small town dweller like myself. However, the difference and appeal stems from the acute university influence that resides in the pores of the town. Alongside the quiet country atmosphere, there is youth and vitality, a rare, compelling and invigorating mixture. I was overwhelmed with a sense of familiarity and safeness – this is a place where you feel like you’ve always belonged.
I envision Bangor as the perfect location to withdraw to for quiet and inspiration when writing a novel, but why do the holistic benefits have to stop there? Bangor is a retreat for the spirit and self, as a stepping stone and a sight of its own recognition and it is a city that I’ll never forget.