27 March 2012

uk train trip -- Wales

I changed train a few times on the five hour journey south; all the while reading the entire book I'd bought from a group of very persistant young sellers of a second hand stall in Leeds. I was a little chuffed about reading a whole book in one day, albeit a teen read. It wasn't till I had almost arrived, when night had already fallen, that I thought that I probably should have prepared a little more for my arrival in Cardiff than this: ha ha

I did however manage to find my way to my hotel wandering along the dark streets. After settling in I came down stairs and further confirmed that I should have prepared a bit more for this leg of my journey. With only one full day in Cardiff, I had arrived too late to actually be able to book a day tour that would allow me to see the countryside. An indian girl asked me to wander the city with her which I did. That was an experience. She was a very driven, full on type of person.

On the Thursday, after getting over the disappointment of not being able to see the countryside of Wales fairly quickly, I decided to just go with what I had and do holidaying stuff rather than sightseeing. I did however go to Cardiff Castle and take a look.
It's not the most interesting castle I've seen here. It has been changed many times over the years and then restored so it has so many different mismatched layers etc. I wandered around the grounds in the cold listening to the history. It was fascinating to see a lifesize trebuchet up close after playing so many games of Age of Empires. The house that you can see in the background just left of the trebuchet had some pretty elaborate rooms too.
After spending the morning at Cardiff Castle I wandered the shops happily browsing slowly and indecisively. I did buy a thing or two and then found a Starbucks--not hard to do these days--where I sat and ate coffee and cake and cheerily used my new phone to access the free wi-fi. It was here I decided I would go see a movie. So after checking times and location I made my way over to the cinema and sat down (happy feet) for two hours of being entertained by This Means War. On the way home from the movies I stopped by the supermarket and grabbed some welsh cakes for a simple tea. I had also amused myself during the day by looking at the signs and such that had welsh on them. It's a strange looking language and yet another that seems odd to try and read.

The next morning I decided to head off reasonably early and go straight to Swansea where my next B&B was booked. I had been unable to book three nights in Cardiff, the Friday night seemingly booked out everywhere. I quickly assumed there must be something on which didn't surprise me. Most of my trips here I've managed to catch some event without intention. And I was right. A rugby match in Cardiff, Wales vs France. So I'd booked a night in Swansea, the second biggest city in Wales that is on the south coast. When I arrived and made my way into town I decided to hire a car and drive around the Gower Penninsular which is supposed to be quite spectacular. Honestly, I failed to see it. Because I literally had trouble seeing it. Pfft. Silly uk roads. Most are like you see below. Hedged in laneways practically. Keeps you from actually seeing the scenery. Therefore the destinations were where you had to sightsee only I didn't really know where I was going and I found it difficult to actually find the spots you could stop at the destinations. I had lunch in a little shack of a fish and chip shop on some beach--I can't remember which. I strolled on the beach for all of 10mins but with no sun and the cold wind I quickly gave up on the Gower Penninsula.
I managed to find my B&B which was nice and with a few hours of daylight left decided to head inland and search out some waterfalls. The first one I stopped at was with some kind of shop...tinsmith I think. But it was already closed so I continued on to find Melincourt Waterfalls. That I found, enjoyed the walk along the wooded, creekside path and savoured the site of the falls. I hung out there until the light began to drop and headed back into Swansea, hoping the satnav wouldn't take me through one of the dreaded roundabouts. Most I've come across here are large complicated ones. While I enjoyed driving around, the one massive roundabout I had to venture into had me a little stressed. Multiple lanes, multiple exits, stop lights, hoards of vehicles and needing to be in the right lane to get out at the right spot. Urg. I don't like them. But I survived. :)

I spent the evening playing with my phone (and the free wi-fi) and watching movies on tv and eating yummy snacks. The following day, after a leisurely start, I checked out with the owner expressing interest in my surname. He mentioned an old tale that most welsh children were told of Beth Gellert and dog or some such thing. I've vaguely heard of it before. I returned the car and wandered along the streets, getting a little distracted by the shops. I bought a wales labled item for my collection and stopped somewhere for lunch and waited for my train. I spent the entire three hour train journey back to London reading an ebook on my phone that had me sucked in and entertained the whole way. And happy that I still had quite a lot of battery left when I arrived.

The Wales segment wasn't what I anticipated. I'd hoped to see more of the mountains and scenery which I've heard is quite beautiful. But I did still enjoy it. Just in a different way. It was nice to have a whole week of roaming and doing relaxing enjoyable things just because I could.

1 comment:

Esther said...

I googled the story of Beth Gellert. It's a very sad one. Maybe I won't tell it to my Bethy just yet.


I love hearing about your travels.