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Just return from Wales...thoughts

Loved Wales. We traveled from the north to Ceredigion and then to Carmarthen.

From USA arrival Manchester airport super easy Immigration and Customs. Train to Liverpool Piccadilly easy inexpensive.
Train to Conwy...Bryn Derwen Guest House easy walk from Conwy Station with our bags...yes we travelled light. Bryn Derwen is a are the owners. Great breakfast, nice people, who could want more. Lots of Neolithic sites in the area, good walks, castles ... we rented a car in Llandudno Junction, easy drive back to Conwy. Each morning we talked about our itinerary with owners and got more ideas and map suggestions. So nice. Isle of Anglesey is beautiful, not much traffic. South Stack light is great.
From Conwy to Cardigan by car. Breathtaking scenery. (By the way, we rented the smallest care Enterprise had on the lot...plenty of space for the two of us and great for the narrow roads and spaces.)
Nant y Brenny in Rhydlewis fantastic place to stay. Lovely clean room, nice tea, great breakfast. John and Hazel are wonderful people who shared their lives. Almost like visiting family. Lots of coastal walks each one better than the last, even with rain. More castles, abbeys, and Neolithic sites. Great food at La Calabria.
For those thinking about money. We took our "travel" cash cards, and used our VISA for big purchase/dinner. Did not have to carry large amounts of US $$$ that way and it was simple to use ATM cash points INSIDE banks. No issues.
If I had to rate the castles number one would be Dolwyddlan, followed by Llansteffan, Kidwelly and Conwy. Neolithic sites number one Pentre Ifan near Newport followed by Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey. Churches Llangelynin Church and Llangar Church.....Walks enjoyed every one. Just be sure of your capability and take a rain jacket.

Bought train tickets in advance, open tickets. Cheaper and easy to use. All the train stations were easy to navigate, the personnel all very helpful.
Flew home out of London because we wanted to visit friends and we are not sorry we did.

Got Oyster cards....very simple to do at the tube station, used them for three days, returned them for the refund at Heathrow when we got off the Piccadilly line.

Wales is a beautiful country full of very nice people. We will go back to see all the bits we missed, and there are lots.
We travelled with one backpack convertible to suitcase each. Because we take lots of pictures we each had a small pack that was water resistant to carry camera equipment in. Mine doubled as a snack basket.....very handy on the coast walks. Sure made it easy to get around, especially riding the tube in London at rush hour when we left. Thanks for teaching us to travel light.

Posted by
1875 posts

Many thanks for taking the time to write about your vacation in Wales. You really got off the main tourist trail taken by most Americans. Flip, you even found Pentre Ifan Neolithic Burial Chamber! I am surprised that you rated Dolwyddelan so highly. Wonder if you took the coast road via Harlech as that Castle is far more impressive in my opinion. You probably would have liked Carreg Cennen Castle - near Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire.

It is a shame that the weather has not been good. The whole of Europe is 'enjoying' low pressure at the moment so Wales is not alone in having the cloudy conditions. May is normally quite a good month.

Posted by
109 posts

Re: Castle ratings
We sort of divided the castles into two categories: "city" castles and "country" castles. My husband and I both preferred the "county" castles hence Dolwyddlan and Llansteffan leading the pack. We liked Harlach, just not as well as Kidwelly and Conwy, probably because it was really crowded the day we were there. Cilgerran was on the list but will have to be saved for another time. I forgot to mention Mwnt....lovely little church, very accessible, with nice coastal walks both ways. Also St Dogmaels Abbey...Let's face it, you can't do everything you want to do no matter how much time you have. Unlimited dollars would help as well. We have such a good time and we will be back.

Posted by
6449 posts

Ann, thanks for this report. I'm tentatively planning my trip to Wales in spring or fall of 2015 (but may have to wait until 2016). I will use your information in my planning, especially about the b&bs you stayed at.

By the way, how many days was your trip (the Wales part)?

Posted by
123 posts

Thanks for the report, Ann. Wales is such an underappreciated place and we're glad you had such a great time. Beautiful country.

Posted by
9110 posts

Ann's Newport is the small town in Pembrokshire, not the city northeast of Cardiff.

If you want to see recycled megaliths, start eyeballing gate posts.

If you want to see Pentre Ifan's twin but can't get to Wales, it's just outside of Chuncheon, South Korea -- same age, go figure.

Cashpoints on the outside of small groceries (Spar, Co-op) are equally safe to use and give the same exchange rate as banks.

Any implication that Harlech doesn't tie for first place with one other castle in the world is heresy.

Posted by
1068 posts

Thanks for this! I'm headed back to Wales next summer - am clipping and saving your report! :-)