A weekend in Wales ~ Part Two
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My weekend in Wales was filled with so many things to do, see and eat I had to write two blogs. So here is A weekend in Wales – Part Two. You’ll want to read both blogs to make a full itinerary for your next UK adventure. A weekend in Wales – Part One has where we stayed and some of my favorite restaurants we visited near Llandudno. Here are the rest of my must-sees in North Wales.
Castles along the Coast
North Wales is filled with castles. It might have been because King Edward I was determined to not lose Wales again, so he began construction on several castles to gain military and economic control of the region. It worked.
Our next royal visit was to the Castle Harlech. This might have been my favorite, mostly because there is a legend of a tragic daughter Branwen, from Ireland who was betrayed and While you walk the grounds, it is almost an eerie ghost-like feeling of tragedy and loss.
There are interactive parts of the castle and Frances and I enjoyed our tour through history. It was a great time of year to visit and is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Let me take you through the vacant halls and ruins of the beautiful Harlech castle that served more as military fortress along the Irish Sea than a palatial playground. The sounds of the sea now on the outskirts of town were once billowing along the castle’s edge. Over time the sea has shifted its course and recedes further from inland.
This was shocking to me because you can see an ancient drawing inside the castle of the massive waves crashing along the castle walls at one time. Hmmm, time. According to UNESCO, today Harlech is considered to be one of the finest examples of 13th and 14th-century European military fortifications. I thought it was pretty cool.
The self-guided tour was £6/person and they do have seasonal hours, be sure to check before you make the trip.
Snowdonia National Park
Not far from Harlech was Snowdonia National Park. Being the parks and rec girl that I am and Frances is too, we just had to take the windy, gorgeous road through the woods. I am so glad we did.
Undoubtedly, one of the prettiest national parks in the U.K. Snowdonia is also the highest mountain in Wales. Alas, we tried to snap a shot of the but were not successful. We had a lot of laughs, which is worth it.
Most of Wales in mountainous and hike-worthy. I will be taking advantage of this in the future, I just know it. Additionally, because of its location to the Atlantic, it can be wet and windy, but hey, I’m in Wales.
Driving in Great Britain
If you are renting a car in Great Britain, there are a few things to know.
Remember to ask for automatic transmission and a SMALL CAR. As small as you are comfortable with driving. England is left-side driving.
*Pay attention to toll roads in WALES. As of 2016, there are certain roads/highways in Great Britain that have tolls, they are identified with a scanned-sticker for your car. There are two ways you can plan ahead~
- Share your destinations and routes with your rental car company and you can purchase the toll sticker
- Return the car and inform them that you were on toll roads, they will be getting a “ticket” (don’t worry, it’s not bad) and then sending it on to you, it is mostly for the local driver
After I found this out, I just set my WAZE to AVOID TOLL ROADS. It’s a more scenic journey anyway.
Not far from Llandudno is the town of Conwy. We actually passed by this town on our way down the coast to Harlech and thought, WOW! This castle and town resemble something you would see from a novel written about the moody English towns with overcast skies and sailors bellying up to a bar with a patch over their eye.
Be careful as you walk through the castle, these warning signs cracked us up.
While we were in Conwy we found a really nice pub/restaurant. I use Google Maps, EXPLORE feature to help me find gems around my location.
We found the Castle Hotel. I’m so glad we did. Dark woodwork decor like an old pub, great service, and MICHELIN star rated. These restaurants are not always super expensive just have exceptional menus. Definitely, the Castle Hotel Restaurant and pub was a keeper.
Walking the Town
My recommendation for Conwy is to spend an entire day. Primarily, because this walled-in city is still walk-able and it reminds me of small towns of New England. The streets are lined with quaint shops set up for tourists, filled with local art and crafts.
Conwy is also known for its Mussel industry. We had fun with this statue dedicated to the fishermen and the livelihood of the town.
Finally, you can probably tell my fascination and wonder with Wales has only just begun. Since we spent all of our time in North Wales, I am challenged to visit South Wales next. If you happen to head there before me, please leave a comment and let me know what you find out. Hopefully, you have enjoyed part one and part two of these blogs and are able to create a complete itinerary for your adventure in Wales.
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