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Requesting feedback on proposed itinerary—London, Cornwall, and Wales, June 2018

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Oct 20th, 2017, 07:32 AM
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Requesting feedback on proposed itinerary—London, Cornwall, and Wales, June 2018

DH (M) and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary with a 3-week (19 night) trip in June 2018 to the UK—London, Cornwall, and Wales. We’ve secured flights, chosen a basic itinerary, and selected housing. Now I’d appreciate some suggestions for things to do and places to eat.

Who we are: We are fairly seasoned travelers. It will be my 8th trip to London and 9th trip to the UK; M has been to London twice, the UK 4 times, and to other parts of Europe and to Asia too many times to count. Usually I plan trips that are packed with activities from morn til night; I have always planned itineraries, whether as leader of high school students on the 4 trips I’ve led or as the “tour guide” for M and me, which are jam-packed. But this trip I promised to allow more down time, more leisurely meals and more lingering strolls. We are still in pretty fair shape, but we aren’t going to tackle very long walks or very steep climbs. We are most interested in natural scenery, art, photo ops, and history, more than shopping or nightlife, but a nice blend of all fine, fun things is best! I’ve never considered myself a “foodie,” but this trip may be a bit more about the food since I’m not herding students and I’ve promised M to take it slower!

Why am I only just now asking for suggestions, when I’ve already done so much planning? Wherever we decided to go, we knew we’d have regrets, and I knew if I posted queries like “What should we do for 3 days in Cornwall,” I’d get so many good suggestions that I’d go batty. So we evaluated our budget, our time, our styles, and our “most want to see or do” lists; read Fodors and guide books and websites; and came up with the plan below which is fairly firm in terms of where we will be each night, but the exact nature of each day is not firm. Some factors were these: I’ve wanted to see Tintagel since I was a little girl falling in love with Arthurian lit; I’ve also wanted to spend a few days in Cornwall for a long time; London still has things we both want to see; we both loved Wales in 2010, and now M wants to stay in a castle or 2 there. Also, while M is an excellent driver and a good sport to agree to drive on the… “opposite” side, we needed to make the driving times not too long and needed to allow some other restful/no driving days and some time to do laundry, as we plan to pack light!

So, no, I’m not simply asking for some sort of validation of a done-deal; I’d really appreciate suggestions for places to eat/snack/shop or for things to see I don’t mention as well as comments about any glaring problem or conflict you see or comments about something that’s not worth our time.

LONDON
(On my 7 other trips to London, I have jam-packed the days with all my top “must-see’s” and also returned to many of them with students; this time we’re going to be much less pre-planned—on purpose. Take some walks, find some pubs, do some browsing.)

Monday—Arrival Day
• Arrive LHR 10:25; top up Oyster cards; ride Tube; arrive at apartment (through Ivy Lettings) in Cheniston Gardens; settle in, get groceries, etc.

Tuesday—London
• Definitely go to the Tate Britain; Twinings Tea; maybe the Eye for M. I’m not concerned about filling our time this first day!

Wednesday/Thursday—London
Windsor Castle one day (I’ve been); Kew Gardens the other day (new for both). Probably have time for something afterwards but not going to schedule anything; might see how a play would fit in.

Friday—Last day in London.
• If we haven’t seen a play yet, definitely see something. And other “we’ve always wanted to do that” stuff. And do laundry, which is one reason we got an apartment.

So any suggestions of “unusual” things to do in London? Things you are glad you did on your 4th or 5th trip?

EXETER
(My first iterations of this trip had us using Exeter as a base for 2-4 days for seeing Dartmoor, maybe Plymouth, and then some of Cornwall. But when I made final plans, something had to give, and it was the Dartmoor area. Sigh. Exeter still seemed like a good stop on the way to Cornwall.)

Saturday—London to Exeter
• Train to Exeter, take luggage to the Queens Court BandB, and see a bit of the city, the cathedral at the very least. Sounds like the Queens Court restaurant might be a good choice for dinner, too.
• We will need to get a car in Exeter, either that evening or probably the next morning, getting a taxi from the hotel to get to car pick-up. We might end up taking the Tube to LHR first thing that morning to get a car and drive to Exeter. But we haven’t nailed this down yet.

So—any suggestions for what to see besides the cathedral with half day in Exeter? Places to eat? Any comment on car-hire?

CORNWALL

Sunday—Exeter to Cornwall
• Drive from Exeter to Tintagel, see site, drive to Hayle. We have rooms at the Penellen BandB right on the beach for 3 nights. Settle in. (We chose not to be “in” Penzance or St. Ives, due to the priorities of what we wanted to see—Tintagel, St. Michael’s Mount, beaches)

Monday and Tuesday—Cornwall
• Depending on weather, tides, and such, we will go to Saint Michael’s Mount and Land’s End via Penzance one day AND St. Ives, along the coast, and Godrevy Lighthouse, etc., on the other day. I’ll look at 2018 Minack Theatre schedule when it’s posted. Spend both nights at the Penellen.

So any suggestions of “don’t miss” or “give it a miss” or where to eat in this area, especially in St. Ives and Penzance, where we will only have a few hours each?

CARDIFF

Wednesday—Drive to Cardiff
• Drive to Cardiff, stopping at Caerleon along the way; staying at the Hilton right across from the castle for 3 nights.

Thursday and Friday—Cardiff and area
• We’ve both been to Cardiff, separately, but neither saw the castle. Actually, castles are the “main thing” for the Wales part. So Cardiff Castle and Cardiff sites one day. The other day we will drive to some sites outside the city—definitely Caerphilly and probably Tintern Abbey; we’ll see if we feel like visiting other castles in the area. (and get laundry done by hotel).

So any suggestions for places to eat; what to see or what to skip, both in and then around Cardiff area?

MID-WALES

Saturday—Cardiff to Glandyfi Castle
• Drive through Brecon Beacons; we have been here and know it’s barrenly beautiful. Stop by Devil’s Bridge (Ok, I loved Hinterland despite its bleakness and sometimes despair, and I want to see this structure used in the first episodes.) Photo ops! Going to Glandyfi Castle for 2 nights.

Sunday—Glandyfi Castle
Glandyfi Castle gardens and maybe not much else. Maybe drive little way to coast or other direction.

So any suggestions for this portion of the trip in mid-Wales?

PORTMERION/NORTHWEST WALES

Monday—Drive to Portmerion
• Drive to Portmerion, stopping at Harlech along the way. Settle in at Castell Deudraith for 3 nights. Relax.

Tuesday—Portmerion
• Probably explore Portmerion leisurely

Wednesday—Castles nearby
Beaumaris, Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Chamber, and Caernarfon. I know this may be a packed day with lots of tourist traffic (and gotta get laundry done in here somewhere/sometime)
(What is getting skimped is more of Anglesey—sigh. We did “do” Conwy already with daughter in 2010.)

So any suggestions for this portion of the trip in northwest Wales?

Thursday—Snowdonia and Ruthin Castle
• Drive through Snowdonia on way to Ruthin Castle. Photo ops along the way! Settle in and rest.

Friday—Drive to Manchester
• Drive to Manchester; we might see something of the Pontcysyllte canal area on the way if have any energy or desire; return car; spend the night at the airport Hilton.

Saturday—Fly home from Manchester

So any suggestions for area from Portmerion to Manchester?
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Oct 20th, 2017, 07:52 AM
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After we drove out to Lands End this past August, paid to park, walked out and viewed the "end" and browsed through all the souvenir shelves, etc., IMO THAT is about as missable as it could possibly get but to each their very own.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 08:39 AM
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Thanks, Dukey--I figured we'd rather spend time, after Mt. Saint Michael, in Penzance over driving to Lands End just to say we did if it came to a choice, so that's helpful experiential feedback
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Oct 20th, 2017, 09:36 AM
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More impressive (to my mind) and not too far away is the Minack Theatre.

Let me say this: I've driven in the UK in the past to include some "narrow" and twisty ones in the Cotswolds as well as in Derbyshire and Norfolk but Cornwall driving brought the adventure to a whole new level. People flying around blind curves as well as one road ( a more or less "back way" to Port Isaac) which found us in a semi-ravine and fording a stream.

I agree with not spending a lot of time in St. Ives. I wasn't that impressed with the place which seemed like a lot of other "seashore/beach" towns at least in the streets facing the water: the usual souvenir and eating places which seem to abound everywhere.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 09:40 AM
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I agree. Forget Land's End. Waste of time. St Ives is worth an afternoon or evening - there's a nice terrace bar overlooking the harbor the name of which I forget but it's the only terrace bar you have to climb steps to get up to; that was the nicest place we found to relax and have a drink and look at the water. Penzance deserves a good walk-around, especially the exotic gardens and boardwalk. But have dinner at the Old Coastguard Inn in Mousehole for sure. Lovely setting, fabulous food.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 10:12 AM
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Instead of Land's End you could stop at Sennen Cove. It's far less crowded and much nicer than Land's End with beautiful sand beaches. I am not a fan of St. Ives either but if interested in art, the Barbara Hepworth Myseum is nice if crowded and there is the Tate St. Ives.

I would also highly recommend a visit to the Minack Theatre. It was one of the highlights of my trip. If possible try to see a performance, if not be sure to visit the museum which details Rowena Cade's life and the building of the theatre. It's a remarkable story. The theatre and it's setting is, IMO, magnificent.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 10:49 AM
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To me visiting gardens is a great thing to do in Cornwall and June is ideal. So I'd look into garden options. Trebah was my favorite.

<>

I really liked Chester so I'd stop there.

And, since you like art, another vote for Tate St. Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 11:38 AM
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Much to consider; I know there're too many "best things" but having a list of good options is really helpful--Thanks!

Mimar--What would we be able to see in Chester if only had a couple hours?
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Oct 20th, 2017, 12:23 PM
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texasbookworm: we only had a couple of hours in Chester and really enjoyed it. Our main focus was the cathedral, but the shopping streets were very charming, and we had plenty of time for lunch a little browsing after touring Chester Cathedral.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 12:37 PM
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So any suggestions of “unusual” things to do in London? Things you are glad you did on your 4th or 5th trip?>

Greenwich could make a nice day - go by boat or train - then ride the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) thru the docks on an elevated railway thru the redeveloped London docks and its striking modern architecture. From Greenwich walk thru the historic Greenwich Foot Tunnel and catch the DLR on other side -Isle of Dogs! DLR also goes from Greenwich but walking thru the ancient foot tunnel can be an experience. Take DLR to Canary Wharf for Docklands Museum and also a large underground shopping mall or straight to Bank or Tower Gateway Tube stations.

https://www.google.com/search?q=dock...w=1745&bih=863

https://www.google.com/search?q=gree...w=1745&bih=863

Greenwich of course has the old Naval Colleges and Observatory where time is kept - straddle hemispheres! Also popular indoor antiques and bric-a-brac market and Cutty Sark and....
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Oct 20th, 2017, 12:52 PM
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texasbookworm - I will try to help you with the Exeter and Cornwall sections, but need my bed at this point.

Back tomorrow, hopefully.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 12:57 PM
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unusual things in London?

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-rail-line.cfm
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Oct 20th, 2017, 01:26 PM
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ohh annhig--Do get over whatever it is soon (even if it's just fatigue at the end of a work week!; thanks; I was hoping you'd chime in!

PalenQ--We did that Greenwich stuff you suggest (except the DLR was out of service that day); loved the tunnel and our time in Greenwich; definitely a great half day, but not on my top tier suggestions. Glad we have done it (before they charged to straddle the Prime Meridian, too!).

The mail-rail-line is certainly unusual but probably not interested; thanks for your time and attention.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 01:41 PM
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I had a few more comments but was interrupted. Sorry. Bryn Celli Ddu is wonderful, and there weren't many tourists when we were there, but that may have changed. Plas Newydd House and Gardens is nearby and worth a stop if you have time. Always hate to add to someone's itinerary but will throw it out there just in case. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Caernarfon Castle is, of course, visit worthy, but the town itself is a complete miss.

I wasn't a fan of Portmerion, but I know many people like it. It's one of those glad I went but wouldn't return places.

Tintern Abbey would be a must for me.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 01:58 PM
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In addition to tuecanlifeedit's suggestions for Chester, you can walk around the (partial) walls and check out the Roman ruins. Check out Google images for photos of the Tudor buildings in the center.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 02:15 PM
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historytraveler--Thanks! I like people's "additions" to our itinerary--I consider them as thoughtful suggestions and options to put on a "if we have time" list after our personal preferences. Glad to hear the Bryn Celli Ddu is worth it; we were only going to "do" Caernarfon Castle, not the town, so glad that's a good decision.

We hope that using Portmerion as a base works well for us; probably won't spend much more than half a day actually "there." Or may need a day of rest. Staying flexible!

Tintern Abbey is a "must" for me; we'll see how M the driver is doing, as our top priority that day will be Caerphilly. See how our moods, the weather, the traffic, and our feet are!

ooohh--Roman sites and cathedrals are always a draw for us, so I'll consider Chester to see if it's a possible stop.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 02:33 PM
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Difficult to know what to suggest for London without knowing what you've done.

Have you visited the Dennis Sever's house?
https://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk

The Geffrye Museum?
https://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk

Taken a canal boat tour?
https://www.visitlondon.com/things-t...ABjBviDgZeC.97

I like Chester but you don't need a whole day. I thought the cathedral was a bit sub-par, but I had just visited Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford.
https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...g-out-chester/
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Oct 20th, 2017, 02:55 PM
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Thanks,thursdaysd; I didn't want to list all our many (and mostly typical with a bunch of odd ones, too) London experiences. I appreciate folks' patience and help!

I had Geffrye on my "maybe" list, but here's post from theirwebsite: "We are about to embark on a transformational £18m development project - Unlocking the Geffrye - which will mean the museum will close on 7 January 2018 for almost two years. Although the main museum building and period gardens will be closed, there will still be plenty of reasons to come to the Geffrye. Throughout closure we will run a busy programme of events, activities and installations in our front gardens. The restored almshouse will also be open for tours on certain dates throughout the year." So probably not a destination for us this time.

Yes, we enjoyed a canal boat ride once.

Chester would be on way to hotel at Manchester airport, so it might be a good and convenient few-hours stop.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 03:27 PM
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Yes, looks like the Geffrye is out for a while.Pity, I've been twice (with Christmas decorations the second time) and found it very interesting.
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Oct 20th, 2017, 04:26 PM
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Assume you have been to the Wallace Collection in London and seen a performance at the National.
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