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Blurred memories Memoirs of a lost and bewildered Australian chick through Europe.

Roundabout Wales

UNITED KINGDOM | Friday, 24 October 2008 | Views [600]

I went to Wales for the Bank holiday long weekend with Rocky. It was lovely. I must admit i was rather excited and told anyone who would listen what i was doing. Sorry everyone! Cardiff is only about an hour and 20ish minutes from Cheltenham on the train. I class that as practically next door (considering it used to take me that long sometimes to get from Liverpool to the city in Sydney- and it is much nicer scenery on the way to Cardiff). I caught the train across first thing after work on the friday afternoon and met Rocky at the station. She had arrived earlier. We stayed in an absolutely lovely backpackers called the Riverhouse and it was perfect. Honestly one of the nicest backpackers i have stayed in ever- (I have been back already!) and i will definately be back again.

I had an early morning the next day because i got up first thing to go to Cardiff castle and beat the crowds. It was pretty good as far as castles go. After that i met Rocky who had picked up a hire car and we were off on a driving adventure. She was the driver, i was the navigator. On the whole navigation is not too hard apart from a few main points i was to discover:

1. Any sign of any importance whatsoever will always be obscured by a tree, no matter where you are in Wales.

2. There is a roundabout practically every 20m or so, which has signs that has names in both Welsh and english- which are generally obscured somehow.

Apart from these points we didn't really have too much trouble. I did direct us in the wrong direction a few times, but i always realised it before we got far. We drove initially out of Cardiff through to Swansea. There is a lovely place just the other side of Swansea called mumbles (apparenty Catherine Zeta Jones is from there) and its really pretty. We saw signs for a beer festival which seemed like the sort of thing we would be interested in but it was another one of those things that was very badly signposted and we managed not to find it but did have a lovely drive down along the coast down some very very narrow country lanes. British country lanes were not made for cars- we should have had a horse and we still would have been cramped on them!

We drove along down the Gower peninsula (i think thats what its called)to a place that has this island that you can only get to on low tide if you walk over all these really pointy rocks. So off we went exploring wearing totally inappropriate footwear- ballet flats that are slightly too big for you are probably not the best shoes in this situation. We did have a nice long scramble though and a lunch on these huge cliffs overlooking the beach. The weather got pretty yuck so we headed back over the rocks (which i am proud to say i did not stack it on once or fall into the water off even though i am ridiculously unco-ordinated and was wearing the wrong shoes). Then we drove back along the coast and had a lovely curry for dinner at mumbles. After this Rocky kicked my arse at air hockey and we decided it was time for us to find where we were staying that night.

The place we were staying at was an old castle called craig-y-nos. I managed to navigate us there in the dark despite the 5000 roundabouts. Unfortunatey for u though when we got there they had no record of out booking and the place was all but booked out! Bugger! Or not.......they ended up finding it, and because they had totally booked out the dorm rooms to a hen's night we were upgraded for free to a double room in a little building off the side of the castle. Yes, we did have to share a bathroom but we also didn't have to share with 30 drunks on a hens outing. So it worked out pretty well for us considering what we had paid for! I must admit that i was worried we would not get a room and would have to pay an arm and a leg somewhere else or end up sleeping in the car!

The next morning we had a huge breakfasy in the classy dining room inside the castle and were off in the car exploring again. This time we drove to Brecon and did some exploring. We had a long walk around what is quite a nice and very touristy little town. After that we headed east to a place Rocky had seen advertised. We went to the festival of the black mountain (or something like that) in a town that i really can't remember the name of. They had lots of stores, music, festivities and the hightlight of the festival was definately the duck race. I was under the miscomprehension that it would be 'real' ducks somehow being raced. What it was is 1000 yellow rubber ducks being tipped into the quite fast flowing river and then caught in a net a way downstream. I was kind of disappointed- i wanted real ducks! Strangely enough the duck that won was number one!

After the race we drove further south (via a really cool super old castle) to abergavenny to meet another friend at the train station. By this stage we were getting really really hungry and we had something to eat there. I would just like to say that the lady that works at the shop at the Abergavenny train station is absolutely lovely. She was sweet, kind, helpful and even gave us free apples from her mum's garden!

After our very late lunch we set off to go and look at the big pit mine. It has been voted the best tourist attraction in Wales (and justifiably so!) unfortunately it had just closed and we had to come back the next day. It was totally worth the wait though! You get to go down into the mine and have a tour and its really really good. Our guide was absolutely brilliant, got everyone involved and was an ex miner himself so he knew exactly what he was talking about. This made the whole thing seem much more authentic. Outside the mine there was also lots of interactive displays and a bit museum and the like. Amazingly it was all free! I would definately rate it though as the place to visit when in Wales. Hell, i'd go back again!

That afternoon we headed back to a place that is sort of in between Cardiff and Swansea and went to a little medievel festival. It was no where near as huge as the Tewksbury one but i di have a good time. After that we went for a walk around a lovely big lake.

Back to Cardiff and a dinner of Wagamama gave me a good end to a lovely weekend. Three days did not seem long enough. They just flew by! But i had a wonderful time in Wales i just wish that there weren't so many bloody roundabouts!     

Tags: wales

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