ON TO WALES
By Ruth Richter
On this Sunday, it was a fairly nice day to travel. As mentioned earlier, we had talked with Chris and Peggy Parker about things to do and places to go and in particular, a scenic route to take to Wales from the Cotswolds.
Our lengthier route we’d chosen for the scenery and interesting villages next took us to Hay-on-Wye, which I had remembered as being a small town with books stuffed in every building, on bookshelves just out on the streets, literally everywhere. This time it looked like they’d perhaps gotten rid of many of the books and it was too early in the morning for shops to be open so we just drove on through. (By the way, Hay-on-Wye signifies the name of the town, Hay, and that it’s on the River Wye).
Imagine our relief at arriving in Betws-y-Coed with a relatively simple pronunciation that I still can never say correctly. Unfortunately, about that time, someone behind us was flashing his lights so when we got a chance, we pulled over to see what the problem was. We had a very, very flat tire! We called the AA man (like our AAA) and a very nice young man came to our rescue within an hour, which we thought was quite remarkable considering we were in a fairly obscure spot. Interestingly, in Great Britain, most cars are rented with no spare tire. The tires are supposed to be self-inflating enough to temporarily repair themselves. In our case the puncture was too big so he patched the tire as best he could and then told us we’d have to go to a tire center the next day.
On we went to Dyserth Falls where our time share accommodations were awaiting us. Bonnie had a “use or lose” time share availability which we were using for this particular stop on our trip. We found the place easily enough but were not too satisfied with the upstairs arrangements so Ken and Bonnie went back to renegotiate something a bit better, with Ken saying “his mother” (that was me!) would have a lot of trouble with the stairs. We ended up getting a two bedroom “condo” that had THREE bathrooms in it. Mind you, the bathrooms off each bedroom were extremely tiny but it was a luxury nevertheless.
Ken was breaking his fast after having felt ill for the last four days, and what sounded good to all of us for dinner that night was MacDonald’s and we knew right where to drive to get our dinner that evening! Yummy!
On our return trip back to our lodging, we drove through Caernarvon and then along the northern coast which was terribly churned up from the cold, blustery day, with the sea pounding over the retaining walls, onto the sidewalks and even into the roadway. We also got beautiful views of Snowdonia covered in snow at 1,058 meters (around 3,500 feet).
A new tire for the car had to be ordered and was hopefully going to appear at the tire shop the next day. Ken was in charge of making sure all that happened, while we ladies struggled with doing laundry in washer-dryer combinations in one machine that washed clothes very well but we had a terrible time mastering the drying technique. Ken had gotten fairly tired with our clothing being hung out to dry all over the living area and was already advocating to hit the Laundromats. But, remember, this was a CHEAP trip and we weren’t having any of that!
Llandudno was our destination the following day; it’s a small peninsula jutting out into the ocean on the northern coast. The city there is a Victorian style beach resort with beautiful houses, B&Bs, and hotels lining the winding street following the coastline. We took a drive up to the top of the mountain (hill) on the peninsula where we were rewarded with sweeping views of the ocean on three sides.
|Conwy ramparts ("curtain wall")|
The road led us past an old cemetery with interesting tombstones, such as a wheel with wings for someone buried there in the 1920s. Later that day, we toured Conwy Castle in the city of Conwy; this is a castle mostly in ruins built in the 1300s. After all that exercise of walking up and down stone stairs in the castle ruins, it was back in the car to drive to Anglesey Island where Beaumaris Castle is situated. Conwy, Beaumaris, and Caernarvon Castles were all built at the same time by Edward I, as fortifications against the enemies but only Conwy Castle was ever completed.
My guidebook mentioned a tea room that was supposed to be a good place to stop for lunch, the Beau Tea Room. It was quite excellent, the service was wonderful, they had all kinds of bits and pieces of china for sale and Ken purchased a very interesting and unusual teapot for all of four pounds. As we were getting ready to leave and everyone else had gone to the toilets (rest rooms to us!) as I was putting on my coat, I happened to eavesdrop on the conversation at the table next to us where four people had just sat down. All of a sudden it dawned on me that they weren’t speaking British English, and I turned and said, “you’re Americans!” They were and were as astounded as I was to meet there, especially since they were from relatively obscure Bullhead City, AZ and one originally from Blackfoot, ID and we, of course, from small town Garden Valley.