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Looking for help with Wales (not whales)

Old Aug 7th, 2003, 09:53 AM
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Looking for help with Wales (not whales)

OK, we've put off Wales long enough, usually after listening to our London friends tell us not to bother. So next May, after two weeks in London, we thought we'd rent a car and go. We're thinking two nights in Cardiff (we generally do enjoy cities) and three or four nights somewhere else, probably on the north coast like maybe Betws-y-coed or Conwy.

Any suggestions for what not to miss and places to stay with charm and character?
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 10:06 AM
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We really liked the Museum of Welsh Life at St. Fagan's outside Cardiff -- it goes all the way back to Neolithic times!

And if you're a booklover, don't miss Hay-on-Wye, the town where every commercial business, including the local movie theater and derelict castle, has been turned into a used-book store.

The Brecon Beacons area was absolutely beautiful.
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 10:17 AM
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Generally speaking, the south of Wales is less attractive than the north; that would include Cardiff IMO. Near there however, is a great castle: Caerphilly. Then I'd head north following the scenic Wye Valley through the Borders, through Llangollen (Valle Crucis).

You can day-trip from Betwys or Conwy. Targets could be Bodnant Gardens and castles at Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech, Criccieth and Beaumaris.

It's likely you'll lose some time to inclement weather, so be prepared.
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 10:22 AM
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I second Tuck's suggestions - this is really a good itinerary for seeing Wales.
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 10:42 AM
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I'm quite a city girl (London born and bred) and had dismissed Wales as a holiday destination for many years.
Last year a group of 30 or so of us (university friends) chose to take our annual one week group holiday in Anglesey.
I loved it!
Beautiful countryside, excellent value accommodations and restaurants and wonderful sights - I particularly loved Beaumaris, found visiting an old slate mine illuminating, enjoyed a long ambling day with two friends in Bodnant Gardens, finally visited Portmeirion, and was blown away by Din Lligwy.
I would also liked to have spent more time in Conwy and walked the city walls.
If you're also reasonably fit and into walking, I understand the Snowdonia park is wonderful... and I think there is a train of some kind which one can take to the summit?
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 10:46 AM
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Great comments so far, mainly confirming the things I've focused on from my readings. Yes, hiking is high on the list, and Snowdonia is a must!

I have looked at The Royal Oak Hotel in Betws-y-coed and it looks wonderful. Would that be as good a place to stay as any for four nights to explore the area?
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 10:47 AM
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A lovely place to stay in Betws-y-coed, although somewhat expensive, is Tan-y-Foel guesthouse. Nice accomodations and terrific dinners.
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 11:40 AM
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I must admit - we ended up stopping in Betws-y-coed quite a few times and it seemed to me little more than a town that had become an outdoor shopping mall (with rather a preponderance of hiking/ camping stores) which happens to be in a lovely setting. I didn't think it a charming place at all.
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 01:42 PM
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You have many fine suggestions for North Wales, but don't dismiss the South. Swansea offers lots of Dylan Thomas-related material; the Gower Penninsula is lovely. If you like gardens, the Welsh National Botanic Gardens -- opened to celebrate the Milennium -- is already lovely. All over the south there are castles -- Caerphilly being the largest. An excellent website is In Cardiff, don't miss tea at the Angel Hotel, possibly even better than tea at Brown's in London, and I love Brown's.

In the North, you might want to consider staying at Eryl Mor in Bangor. Comfortable rooms, great food, central for visiting Conwy, Caernarvon and Beaumaris, and great views over the Menai Straits.

Have a wonderful trip.
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 02:04 PM
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More suggestions can be found on this thread:

And, as an aside....this happened in Wales recently. EEK!
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 02:49 PM
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I second staying at Tan-y-Foel. While the room (#5) was small by American standards, the view was incredible from our bedroom and bathroom. In 2000, dinner cost 25 pounds for 2 courses per person, and was absolutely delicious (very gourmet and perfectly prepared). The room cost us 140 pounds, including breakfast for 2.
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 03:09 PM
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Southwest Wales is great. If you're interested in Dylan Thomas, he is buried in/near Laugharne and a house that he used to write in is there to visit. We stayed in Laugharne for several days a few years ago. There is a castle there to visit, and the Laugharne estuary is beautiful. We were there during Regatta in August, 1999. It is also a short drive to Pembroke Castle which is a great find. Drive out to Stackpole for an amazing view of the sea, and go in search of St. Govan's cave, circa 550. We had a great time in Wales.
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Old Aug 7th, 2003, 03:12 PM
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First of all, get new friends. Wales (we went North only) was one of the most beautiful places we visited in the UK (but then again, we didn't care for London-so there you go). We stayed in B-Y-C and thought it lovely...not necessarily the town, although the setting is really beautiful, but the location and distance to Edward's castles was great, and our Inn was phenom. We stayed at Ty Gwyn...a 16th century coaching inn with a wonderful bed and original beamed ceilings, fantastic food and lovely adjoining pub. Ah...I miss it! Have fun.
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Old Aug 8th, 2003, 01:28 PM
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Your friends in London are completly wrong! Wales is a fantastic country if you like cities or simply want to enjoy the fantastic countryside on offer.

I think that 2 nights (3 days) in Cardiff would be pleanty, however it depends on what you want to do. There are many museams (all free) in Cardiff and the surrounding area, although Cardiff Castle and Castel Coch are both chargeable. (Visit and for more info)

Cardiff is a fantastic city if you like cities and everything which comes with them. It is a compact city, so it doesn't have a fantastic transport infrastructure around the city centre, although if you want to get to other parts of the city, or other parts of Wales, then the Central Station opposite the Millennium Stadium will be the best place to go.

Cardiff Bay is a must see place if you visit Cardiff - it is really modern, with most of Cardiff's bars and restaurants situated here and down Mill Lane, which is in the City Centre.

In terms of hotels, there is everything from the 5* Hilton and St Davids Spa and Hotel to Travel Inn's. Really depends on what you want

As you are visiting during May, you may be able to catch some of the Cardiff Festival. The best thing to do is probably to check on the Cardiff council website early next year when they should have published the dates for the events. (

Any more help of info, please don't hesitate to post a message on here!
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Old Aug 8th, 2003, 02:19 PM
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Trevor, you've really thrown a curve at me. I was assuming we'd need to rent a car for this trip. Of course, we could easily get to Cardiff by train from London and wouldn't need a car there. Are you suggesting that maybe we wouldn't need a car at all? Would we take a train from Cardiff to Snowdonia area and manage there without one? I'm starting to think the car might be un unnecessary expense.
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Old Aug 9th, 2003, 12:21 AM
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You can get from Cardiff to Snowdonia by train quite easily-5 hours if you get a through train.This would give you access to north-west Wales through Bangor where the train turns and heads across Anglesey to Holyhead or, by changing at Llandudno junction you can travel up the Conwy valley.Alternately you can change trains in Shrewsbury and enter the southern part of Snowdonia through Porthmadog.This gives excellent access to Hotel Portmeirion and Castell Deudraeth which I am always going on about on this forum.
However I think that once you have got here you will then be limited as to what you can do as you will have to rely on buses or walking.You could of course hire a car whilst you are here.
I have tried to post before in answer to this but sometimes it just won't post.
Beware if you are coming soon- the railways are reacting adversely to the heat and severely disrupting journeys
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Old Aug 9th, 2003, 08:46 PM
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Hi Patrick, Can't help you with Wales, but at least this will bring it to the top for people who can! What I really want to know is, have you done a trip report on this summer? Did I just miss it? I was especially interested in your experience at the Paris apartment! Actually, I'm also interested in Wales, so maybe we can both learn more about it...
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Old Aug 10th, 2003, 08:05 AM
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Patrick, I have become a big fan of Wales and plan on spending another 3 weeks there this autumn (one in the Brecon Beacons, the second on the Gower, the 3rd on the Pembrokeshire Coast). My thoughts on your plans. While the North is not my favourite part of Wales, I would definitely choose Conwy over Betys y Coed. Betys is a way too pretty village, and massively over-touristed, not unlike so many similar villages in the Cotswolds or Lake District. In fact, it reminds me of a Lakes District village that some how got lost and ended up in Wales.

Cardiff is an interesting place to visit. It is, deep down, a small English provincial city planted in Wales, gradually transforming itself into the capital of an increasingly confident small nation. While I have doubts about the viability of the Cardiff Bay development (it seems awfully artificial, dependent now on outside subsidies and later on spending by politicians and lobbyists,I think overall for the city we are seeing a transformation not unlike what has happened in Dublin over the past couple of decades, and maybe they can avoid the social problems that beset Dublin.

The National Gallery and Museum is incredibly good for a city and country of this size.
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Old Aug 10th, 2003, 12:35 PM
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I'm afraid l'm going to have to differ with you there ron. The Cardiff Bay development is a mixture of funding from the European Development Committee, local tax, and the Welsh Assembly, which all sums up to the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.

While alot of the buildings down there are offices, they are fantastic pieces of modern architecture. The new Millennium Arts Centre, which is due to be completed within the next year or so, although not fully open for another 2 years, is another classic example of the bays regeneration.

The modern St Davids Spa and Hotel is a fantastic place to stay, in the centre of it all, although personally l would rather stay in town.

Back to the city centre, alot of the attractions are reachable by public transport, although like every city, it costs, both financially and timewise. Best thing to do is check for fares, times and service availability in areas.

Be aware that during events in the city centre, all roads around the Millennium Stadium are completly closed to traffic from around 12pm.

I would personally recommend the National Museam and Gallery of Wales, which is located in the Civic Centre, within walking distance of many of the hotels. St Fagans is on the outskirts of the city, and l believe that it may only be accessable via train services, or obviously by car.

There are great shopping areas around the city, with the two main arcades (St Davids & Queens and The Capitol) both again within walking distance, and with pleanty of modern shops.

If your looking for Welsh Gifts, then the best place to go is the citys main department store, David Morgan, which is located in The Hayes.

I would say that the Hilton is the best located hotel, opposite the Civic Centre, although probably pricy.

If l can offer any more help, please dont hesitate to ask!
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Old Aug 10th, 2003, 02:35 PM
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We just got back from North Wales and a lovely lady named Ann who resides in Holyhead, Wales helped us immensely with our touring. She has her own website that will give you lots of ideas and information. You can reach her at Maria
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