Thank you, Paul for being our guide for five days touring Wales. He let my mom and me set the pace, and gave us the opportunity to soak in our environment or continue onward. We were able to see so much more than we ever thought possible! He had suggestions for our itinerary, but always let my mom and me choose the things that we were most interested in seeing, still managing to share some history and a little Welsh along the way. He was always kind, cheerful and loads of fun.
Why should you have a driver and tour guide in Wales? Most roads were smaller than the alley behind my garage and traffic flows in the opposite direction of the USA, the signs and road markings are completely different, as are the unwritten rules of road etiquette. Paul knows the roads like the back of his hand, and with many poorly marked turnings along small winding roads, this averted a navigational nightmare, and we were able to spent our time in the car seeing the countryside around us. Additionally, we experienced traditional Welsh folk songs, Dylan Thomas, and Wordsworth, music and poetry that is entwined in our surroundings and still lives in the hearts of the people.
On our first day we had Tintern Abbey almost to ourselves, we also visited Raglan Castle and Caerphilly Castle, with a few quick romps across the beautiful countryside for some photos. On our second day we visited the beautiful National Botanical Gardens of Wales. We so enjoyed the gardens that we decided to spend half our day there before continuing to St. David's. We stopped at a lovely, windy, seaside car park for whipped ice cream, which is nothing like American soft-serve, yet arrived with plenty of time to attend Evensong at St David's Cathedral. We spent our third day traveling to Portmeirion, but along the way walked two or three miles of the stunning Welsh Coastal Path, observed an archaeological dig in a storm-exposed hillside, and devoured lunch at the Harbourmaster Hotel in Aberaeron, mmmmmmmmmm. On our fourth day, we spent the morning exploring Portmeirion, followed by a short drive to Criccieth Beach, with stunning views of the castle and town. We walked up the hill to the castle and explored to our hearts content. We were even able to spot Harlech Castle through the telescope, across the bay. From there we travelled through beautiful Snowdonia, pausing to take in our surroundings and watch some sheep clambering up the rocky hillside, continuing to Caernarfon Castle, overwhelming, huge, power, royal, fierce. We concluded our day with a rainy walk to Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Chamber, which left us speechless. We spent our fifth day exploring Beaumaris Castle and courthouse, and Conwy town, castle, walls, tea shops, harbor, old homes and countryside. We concluded our visit with a drive up and around the Great Orme.
Each day was filled with Paul's tidbits of history, lore and laughter. What fun stories! I will personally never forget how Beddgelert got its name, and how our trip to Wales was made so much more than we could've ever hoped. Diolch, Paul!
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