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

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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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