Wales is wonderful. We spent about six days driving from the South of Wales up to the West coast to the northern tip. The landscape varies from rugged cliffs along the Irish Sea to rolling green hills and mountains in the north. All along the way there were beautiful castles, bays with very picturesque villages up and down the coast. One highlight was Cardigan Bay which is quite large with expansive views. There were many great experiences one being very noteworthy on the coastline trip in a town called Kenfig Hill. Kenfig was the only stop that included a motel with the balance being bed-and-breakfast accommodation. (We highly recommend staying at B&B's while in the countryside in the UK, all were outstanding, great, friendly owners and excellent sources of local advice) As I unpacked the car in Kenfig I had a chance to chat with a gentleman in the parking lot. He was curious as to where we're travelling from and we had a really nice conversation. He asked me what I rose doing that evening because he was part of what is called the"Kenfig Hill & District Male Voice Choir" and would I be interested in coming to see their evening practice. Of course I said yes. It turns out interestingly that Wales has a long-standing tradition of male choirs which started back during the coal and slate mining days as a way for the miners to get together other than in a pub to blow off steam. This was great! The choir consisted of about 50 men who take this very seriously and have a lot of fun in the process and they sang a wide variety of songs including Welsh favourites, American show tunes and some of a slight religious fashion. It was a great experience. (http://www.kenfigwelshmalechoir.org.uk/)
Since we were driving and didn't have to be overly concerned with time we were able to stop in many of the towns along the coastline each with their individual characteristics. One of the interesting things is that the tidal flows in the area are very extreme with the high and low tide marks being close to a kilometer distant. During low tide all of the boats in the harbor's are resting on dry land and consequently raised when the tide rolls in.
As we ventured up the coast to the north and headed in land the landscape changed dramatically from rugged coastline to verdant rolling hills dotted with more sheep than you can imagine. In addition all of the interior roads were barely wider than a car and boxed in by dance green hedgerows. Between the fact that you drive on the left-hand side of the road in the UK and the width of the winding undulating lanes driving was both intellectually challenging and a heck of a lot of fun. One of the best parts while driving a right-hand car is that the stick shift is in your left hand as opposed to the right. My wife was terrorized!' Of course in Wales one must always be cognizant of the possibility of sheep running across the road.
As we ventured north we stayed in an area called Snowdonia which is full of mountains, small Welsh villages and national parks. This was an area that was so remote in places that the GPS was not able to lock on locations. Consequently we spent a lot of time on single track roads going over the hills and dales and discovered many many interesting sites. There were two significant highlights up in the north one being an absolutely amazing B&B in a 17th century manor house that was owned by a lovely couple (Elizabeth & Darren) and was decorated in the 17th century style. The bedroom we had had a fourposter bed and the lounge area had a fireplace that must've been 5 feet high and 5 feet wide and since it was cool there was a roaring fire each night. The outside of the B&B as you will see in the photos was draped with purple wisteria that was in full-bloom; charming to say the least. (www.glynisa-countryhouse.co.uk)
Also in this area was a wonderful Botanic Garden called Bodnant Garden. When you see below the photos of the blooming as azaleas and rhododendrons are from this beautiful garden. It was like a floral wonder world! (http://www.bodnant-estate.co.uk/bodnant-garden).
While we're in this area the B&B owners suggested that we stopped in at the local village pub as once a week the local people bring their musical instruments and play traditional Welsh music. It was a raucous occasion and we had a chance to meet some really nice folks.
The only disappointment was a cog railroad trip up to the top of Mount Snowden which occupied well over a half day. About three quarters of the way to the top we were shrouded in peace soup thick fog and there was zero visibility at the summit. Being from Colorado, having lived in Austria and travelling to all of the mountainous regions of Europe this so-called mountain was a bit of a yawn. One thing that was interesting in this spot is that it was the site of a great deal of slate mining and it was fascinating to see how slate was mined during its heyday.
Overall we really enjoyed Wales and had a chance to see a great many castles, villages, pubs and of course scads of sheep.
Finally we were lucky with the weather as Wales is notorious for continued squalls and wind and we were only really rained out one day out of six.
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