Our Fearless Leader, aka Tour Guide Taff Roberts, visited Wales for two weeks at the beginning of October to finalize the details for our May & October 2017 Bus & Walkabout Tours.
Day 1 / Fresh breezes wafting in from the Irish Sea, 65F and a sunny October afternoon here on the promenade in Llandudno. We will be visiting and staying here on the promenade a year from now on our October 2017 visit.
Day 2 / Yesterday I visited the small seaside town of Aberdaron. Our Bus Tours and Walkabouts will both be visiting this hamlet at the end of the Lleyn Peninsular, North Wales in 2017.
This was the end of the road for the ancient pilgrims who followed the Holy Springs along the Welsh Coast. Their final destination was Bardsey Island, a treacherous one mile crossing in small coracles through, strong tides and currents.
Day 3 / Today was Porthmadog: blue skies and 15 knots of wind blowing out of the west and 60F. I got a chance to visit the David Lloyd George Miniature steam engine that will be pulling us over the Snowdonia Welsh Highlands next year from Caernarfon to Porthmadog on our bus tours.
Day 4 / My favorite bookshop in the whole of Wales is located in Porthmadog, Gwynedd on the High Street and sadly, it was closed when I went by tonight. Fortunately, it’s around the corner from where I’m staying and you can be certain I’ll be walking through their door the minute they open tomorrow morning!
Day 5 / This morning I stopped off in the small ancient market hamlet of Llanrwst on the Conway River in the Snowdonia National Park.
The Tea House has been here for over 500 years and has served many a weary traveller. I have arranged for us to stop by here for lunch during our Wild Wales Walkabout Tour in May 2017. They will be waiting for us with lots of good eats and fresh baked Welsh pies and cakes. How can you say no to that?!
Day 6 / Dolbadarn Castle stands a couple of hundred yards behind The Royal Victoria Hotel in Llanberis in the Snowdonia National Park where we will stay on our May 2017 Tour.
On our Wild Wales Tours in May of 2017 and October 2017 we will be guided by local expert Gareth Roberts around this finest example of a Welsh round tower. Erected by the Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great in 1230. Gareth has some great tales to tell about this interesting fort.
Day 8 / At the manor where I stayed here in Gwynedd, North Wales last night Mrs Hughes made a fish pie that was out of this world! I turned in early to attempt the ascent of Cader Idris for sunrise today.
I arrived at the trailhead at 5:15 a.m. and with my headlight beaming began hiking up the iconic mountainside. I grew up and played in this mountain's shadow, went to school in the market town of Dolgellau directly below it and during my life I have been up it many times. The weather is always a challenge, but the forecast was good for today, clear skies and 60F and no wind! As I made my way across the stone bridge I heard a Long Eared Owl hooting in the distance and few minutes later a badger crossed the path. Slumbering sheep would move as I made my way as my light beam would glisten their eyes like diamonds!
I arrived at the summit at 7:14 a.m. and spectacularly the sun appeared at 7:21 a.m.! All my life I have wanted to see the sun rise from this ancient piece of ground, I shall never forget it.
Day 9 / The Heights is just one of the great pubs we'll be enjoying during our May 2017 Bus Tour through Llanberis in the Snowdonia National Park.
Day 10 / This morning: 42F clear skies and 5 knots of winds from the south west. Today I’m in Aberystwyth in Mid Wales where they have been filming the popular TV series Hinterland! The historical building they are using in the film as the Police Station is one block north of the Four Star Marine Hotel where our Bus Tours will be staying in May and October 2017. We will have a local character and actor that will be enlightening us about the production when we arrive at Marine Hotel for our cocktail hour.
Each of our windows will be facing out toward Cardigan Bay and outwards to the Irish sea. Plenty of sea breezes here to refresh us as we wander along this Victorian promenade. The University of Wales, the National Library and many shops and fine restaurants contribute to making this seaside town a great place to visit.
Day 11 / Pete’s Eats is another great spot to dine while we visit Llanberis on our May 2017 Bus Tour. All the local characters turn up at Petes Eats for their coffee. Not only a great place for a cup and a bite, Pete’s is an excellent place to observe Welsh daily life and mingle with the locals. Come and meet the Welsh, they would love to meet you!
Day 12 / Two nights ago, I visited the seaside town of Tenby on the Esplanade looking over the Atlantic where the Wild Wales Tours will stay a night on our May and October tours.
After checking into the hotel I walked around the 13th century medieval walled town and discovered the Plantagenet Restaurant on a very small side street off High Street. It's a 15th century pub and the food was exquisite if you like seafood. I had white bait (small sardines, sprats that are deep fried) delicious! followed by fillets of fresh flounder on rice, very good.
After supper I walked along the beach under the Espalande back to the hotel under a three quarter moon that made the sea all around a silver carpet.
This afternoon I was able to stop and visit Tintern Abbey a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1131. I walked around the ruins here for a couple of hours imagining the music that was created here before Henry V111 sent in his men and ended the monastic tradition here for over four hundred years.
After visiting Tintern Abbey on Thursday night out here in the beautiful Wye Valley in South East Wales I went looking for a B&B for the night.
I stopped in a small cafe in Usk for a cup of tea and a slice of Bara Brith (Welsh raisin bread).
On the web I discovered Oak Tree Farm, a rural B&B in the small hamlet of Gwehelog near by. Arrived as it was getting dark and settled into the small stone cottage, very cozy.
The owners told me they would bake me a small loaf of bread for breakfast! I walked through the farmyard out along the road where the sheep were bedding down for the night.
Before crossing the main road I could smell a wood fire and then I entered the Hall Inn. A real pub, farmworkers resting after a day out in the fields with their families along and with a collection of local characters.
They viewed me suspiciously as I ordered my supper. I could not resist the temptation to take a snapshot of my white bait starter (small fried smelts). Someone noticed and they figured I must be a food critic!
Day 13 / During our tours we will be stopping at Portmeirion in the small town of Penrhyndedraeth settled on the Glaslyn river in Gwynedd.
Clough William Ellis designed this Italian village, it is rumored after visiting Porotfino, Italy.
Yes, it is here that the famous Portmerion Dinnerware was named after and you can purchase their products in the village when we visit and have it shipped home.
There is also a Portmeirion Store in Porthmadog where our May and October bus tours will be staying.
Day 14 / I spent the last 10 days weaving through the magical land of Wales, making new connections and ensuring smooth travels during our tours next May and October. We will end our bus tours here in Cardiff, the capital and a bustling seaport city. Every hotel room in the city was filled last night, so I drove north of the city to find a Premier Inn. Early this morning, I learned just how remarkable the public transportation is here in the capital! I caught the number 58 bus downtown and then the number 6 with ease to visit the new Welsh Parliament Building and the Wales Millennium Centre. Our tours will be staying at the Cardiff Mariott, which is right in the heart of the city and the heart of all the excitement! After the last 10 days, I’m more excited than ever to introduce all of you to my homeland. See you in 2017!
In my final days of my two week stint in Wales, I visited family in Scarborough. They drove me across the Yorkshire Moors to the small town of Pickering. There was a full weekend of events re-enacting the times during the second world war. All the sounds of war and many hundreds of military persons in uniforms (including U.S.forces) milling around. Also many hundreds of town people dressed up in period costumes. In the next town, they were all dressed up as the German military, steam locomotives ferried passengers from station to station. This is an annual event and a big economic boost to this part of Yorkshire.
The Pickering Railway Station is one many Americans are familiar with - and most don't even know it! The TV series, Downton Abbey, filmed scenes here. It was also the rail station that the Harry Potter movies filmed all of their train scenes when they were coming and going to Hogwarts!