|Laneway to our Airbnb near Mathry|
|Countryside near Mathry|
4.6 - PembrokeshireDrive south to Tenby, a seaside resort on the south coast, for fish and chips. Sounds easy ... but ... there is a lot of traffic, and endless roundabouts. Try to stop in Narberth, but it's too busy - we get told off for trying to park in a 'private street' (there are no signs ...). It's the last weekend of 'half-term' school hols - I had forgotten that there is such a thing - and Tenby is also packed. Four pounds for parking, then queue for very greasy fish and chips (no lemon! no pepper!). By the time we are driving north again, it's 3pm. Sodding Tenby!
|Beach at Tenby|
|Interior of St Davids Cathedral|
|Chris and Bishop's Palace|
|Graveyard - St Davids Cathedral|
5.6 Mathry - BethesdaA leisurely start to the day and at 11 begin the drive north. It's quite an easy drive, not too many roundabouts and less traffic (school hols are over!), the roads are lined with wildflowers. Beginning at Dollgellau in S. Snowdonia, the towns and villages become dark and slatey, very characteristic. It feels more rural than the south, and rocky mountains emerge out of the rolling, bucolic farmland. A bit of real wild.
We arrive at Bethesda just after 4, it's a bit of a shock after all the quaint tidy towns. The town, as well as our accommodation is shabby, run down and grubby. There are no tourists in sight. The 'fabulous views' advertised for our Airbnb are reasonably pleasant outlooks from small dirty windows. It's on a busy main road and everything is dusty and creaky. Oh well. It has a cluttered but functional kitchen and a spacious bedroom.
|Dollgellau - southern gateway to Snowdonia|
|Emerging mountains ...|
|Wildflowers! including bluebells!|
After a brief walk we decide to eat out at a nice looking Indian place (Shirin). The food is good! Prawn Sag (spinach sauce) and vegetable balti. Too many pappadams so we bring the naan home for breakfast. The waiter tells us his story: from Bangladesh, lived in London for some years, until his wife brought him to rural Wales. He would rather be somewhere more lively, but his father-in-law is the restaurant's chef, so at least he has a job ... We meet the chef, and congratulate him, the food is pretty good.
|Bethesda - the only tourists in the village|
|Oak grove, Bethesda|
|Shirin's Indian in Bethesda - young waiter and his father-in-law chef|
6.6 SnowdonWhile Welsh language is visible everywhere in Wales, up north it is for many their first language and it is spoken everywhere. Today is tourist day: we go to the CTT of Llanberis to get tickets for the Snowdon Railway (29 pounds each!), then a detour to Caernarfon before the train leaves, to see the castle. Stop for coffee and lovely fruit cake at Cwm-y-glo, where I holidayed as a child. Also find a mechanic to check out our oil change alert - all ok.
Caernarfon is busy, but not overly, and the castle is impressive, with amazing local views, and several historical displays about the history that are quite well done. I never knew that all of the N. Wales castles were actually built by the English (Edward 1) to keep out the Welsh hordes!
The train ride to Snowdon summit is slow and crowded and it's hard to take photos. The views from the top are certainly spectacular, and it is still so warm that we are in shirts. Back down we board early, the crowds have thinned (some walking back) and it's a lot more enjoyable.
|In Cwm-y-glo, near Caernarfon|
|Snowdon summit - look, no jacket!|
|Snowdon summit 2|
|Slate cemetery 2|
7.6 Bethesda - SolihullDriving along the north coast of Wales for a glimpse of seaside villages before returning to England, what we find is ... Rhyl! Endless streetscapes of cabins and caravan parks punctuated with amusement arcades, fast food shops and an occasional closed down 'fun' fair. It's the underbelly of Welsh tourism, where working class hordes from Liverpool and Manchester are ghettoed by the seaside. Weirdly bleak, extremely ugly and sparsely populated, it must be a vision of hell in August. We linger a while to ponder this new dimension of Wales. So it's not all CTT with quaint and pretty old cottages.
|Rhyl, a seaside village|