Monday, June 8, 2015

Wales in a weekend - leaving Llundudno

Alan and I had high hopes to really spend some quality time in a variety of places in Wales today, and we did manage this, even though we hit obstacles at almost every corner!

Our plans when leaving Llundudno were to drive the road up the Great Orme but it was closed due to a  road rally!   This was the Three Castles Road Rally!  Our car was parked in the area that was now cordoned off so we had front row seats as they came down the Great Orme and back into Llundudno. Not quite the same as if we had been able to drive this route ourselves.  But we are certain to return and will have this drive to look forward to!

Before setting off, Alan checked the map and we decided to head to Penryn Castle since it was in the general direction of Tenby, which was the last stop of the day.

We were looking forward to seeing loads of interesting places this day and started out early to accomplish all that we hoped.

As anyone from Alloway knows, the best laid plans of mice and men gang oft awry.

Penryhn Castle from a distance looked imposing and amazing but as we arrived, we noticed it would not open until 11 am!  Since we arrived along with the Park Run runners, it was well before 9:30am and we certainly could not wait that long for the castle to open.  I did hope that there would be a coffee shop somewhere since that is the norm for our local Park Run folks.....after the run, they meet at Rozelle coffee shop.  But we had no idea how this was set up or where to go, so we headed back down the road.

Next stop was Caernarfon Castle, which according to the link provided, is possibly Wales' most famous castle!  By the time we arrived here though, the sun was so strong, I struggled to get any decent photos of this huge building!  The town itself is surrounded by a city wall, and it looks like it had to be cut close to the castle to allow a road to go around.

This castle is built right on the water and there was so much going on - Such a busy and vibrant city!

As with what seems to be all Welsh cities, colour is everywhere!

Watching the mainly dads and daughters do this, made me feel
a bit homesick for Destin!  Been a long time since I had this

Was it market day? Only 2 stalls but they looked great!

Captain Woof

A busy harbour too

Just a beautiful place

After spending about an hour here, Alan suggested getting an ice cream, but I had my heart set on sitting down somewhere with a nice coffee and a Welsh cake or something else local and yummy. So we decided to wait until our next stop.......we ended up travelling and focusing on just getting to Tenby so didn't stop at all until 4:30!

Alan and I decided to take the route through Snowdonia National Park.  It goes along the route of the Welsh Highland Railway there and we were very lucky to hear the oncoming whistle as we stopped to take photos of a little church!  Timing is everything!

View of the church from the bridge over the train tracks

After this idyllic start to the day, it took us awhile to realise we were on some sort of never ending treadmill of driving through the miles and miles of marathon runners and closed roads being repaired.  We kept getting our directions changed due to bridges being closed, and in such a rural and mountainous country, one closed bridge can mean endless detours and diversions!

Although I have never run a marathon, I have run some big races in the US and to do this so close to moving traffic would be unthinkable!  We stumbled upon 2 big races as we crawled along to our next destination!

There are benefits of being directed to points you never knew about.  I loved the name of this village.  We had intended to visit the town with the longest name of all - "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch" - but I misread the article about how this town name is often shortened to Llanfair and failed to see it is often shortened to Llanfair P G.  We were close to it too, but I settled for this sign:

As we were heading to Tenby, we saw an amazing looking castle up on hilltop and took the next turn to have a closer look. Another mistake - this road is one of two used to access Harlech, and is known as the Toot Road.  I called it a few other choice things as our car struggled to get around the steepest and sharpest angles possible.  I know if I had been driving, we would never have gotten to the top and  the car would never have been the same. Thank goodness Alan is a fantastic driver!  Not knowing there is a more sane way to enter and exit this town, I worried about getting back on the main road a bit while we were there.  If any readers have visited San Francisco and seen Lombard Street, imagine that - only straight up. That might give you an idea of what this road is like!

Parking is also very limited in Harlech, but they appear to be building a massive car park close to the castle.  We did find a place to park that was limited to one hour. Just enough time to see the castle and have that coffee I had been waiting for!  Harlech looked darling too.  However, my official driver had other ideas and we barely skimmed the surface of this village before heading off.  To be honest, I was really surprised because this place was so cute and I was getting a bit desperate for my morning coffee and cake!  (In Alan's defence, we still had hours to go before arriving in Tenby so he was right. But I should have at least gotten a coffee to go at this point!)

Harlech Castle is owned by the Cadw, The Welsh government's historic environmental service.  This is associated with the Scottish Heritage, which we just joined this year! As first year members, we would have been able to visit this castle for half price, but we didn't.....

While I was finding out about this, Alan was taking photos, so I didn't really see much since I thought we would be spending more time.  Oh well,  I honestly believe we will be returning to this area and this is a must see.

After leaving Harlech, we went on to Tenby, via Aberystwyth, stopping to admire this breathtaking landscape of sea with Snowdonia National Park in the background.

I must admit, Aberystwyth was a disappointment after seeing Llundudno.  The buildings are colourful but the whole place is really congested and the pier just doesn't compare at all. We were not even tempted to walk along the pier since it is all covered and appears to be only an amusement arcade.  Alan and I parked the car and spent only about 15 - 20 minutes looking at it and taking a few photos.
Aberystwyth Pier

A different view of the pier

With all the delays and stops we made, this caused us to arrive in Tenby just about sunset, after booking our hotel on the run, in the car!  We were unable to stay in Tenby itself.  I believe the sunshine and the fact it was Saturday meant Tenby and surrounding area was pretty full!  We found a place about 5 miles away and it was great.

After waiting all day for something lovely to eat, once we got to this area, all the restaurants were closed!  We ended up with the £3 meal deal from Tesco!  However, we ate this in a lovely beach resort called Saundersfoot.  One thing you need when travelling with Alan and me is a good sense of humour.

Tenby is another spectacular town but I will add our experiences there in the next blog since I believe our travels for this day are enough to take in at one time!

“Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

"I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more."
"You mean you can't take less," said the Hatter: "it's very easy to take more than nothing."
"Nobody asked your opinion," said Alice.” 

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