Wednesday, May 7, 2008

On to Wales

After 2 weeks of big cities, we have slowed down considerably on our last day and wandered off the beaten path to what I can only describe as the wonderful, slow, charming country of Wales. I LOVE this place, I can't say that enough.

We rented a car that dh has been bravely been driving on the wrong side of the road. We find the traffic circles quite amusing, as they are everywhere. We rented a Kia van since there are 5 of us and lots of luggage. I think dh is sorry we did. I don't think I can appropriately display the roads here, but I'll try to explain.

Garmin has been a godsend on this trip. Thank goodness dh bought the European maps.
A roads are faily decent usually a lane in each direction and a dashed white stripe down the middle more then half the time. B roads are mostly single wide, but have ample pull outs. Then there are roads with no names, merely referred to as 'road'. A, B and 'road' roads all have high berms on either side of the road, with fences and underneath years of growth.

In the US, if you go down a road and it narrows to a single lane you are pretty certain that the pavement will end in someone's driveway. In southern Oregon, where we both spent our teen years, it often ended on a property with a rather hairy mountain man holding a shotgun and a rotweiller, so we are both a bit shy to go down those types of roads.

Not so here. As we wandered down the road looking for Gellifawr, our apartment/hotel, we made jokes about how we were on a sheeps trail, etc. Lots of turns, no cell service, and lots of farms in rolling hills.

We passed some bigger cow farms, and then we found it. It was an old blue stone 2 story manor house and the corresponding buildings had been renovated into apartments. We were tired, it was late, and I was wondering if we'd blown it by picking the place.

I foolishly didn't take photos inside, but wow. I walked into the dining room and I was greeted by a man in a tie serving people sitting a beautiful cherry tables with white leather chairs, fine crystal and china. Our apartment was huge, with 3 bedrooms, big white fluffy duvets, clear laquered wood floors, and a state of the art kitchen.

Each morning they fed us a full English breakfast. That means cereal, fruit juice, coffee, a basket of fruit, a poached egg, 2 slices of ham, sausage, potatoes, a stewed tomato, mushrooms, and toast. It was terrific.

We spent our time adventuring around western Wales. The first day turned out to be a 'Bank Holiday' and we headed to Newport Shores in search of a geocache and some stores. As we wandered down an A road into town, we came to something I've never seen before. In town people had parked on the side of the road, in a section that wasn't a full 2 cars wide. It was still a 2 way road. We got stuck. We opened the windows, pulled the mirrors in and made it. I kid you not there was not more then 1" on either side of that van. We definately ran against the plantlife over the stone wall on the one side. I didn't actually believe the van would fit, but DH performed magic and made it. I asked him how he was and he said he needed to go home and lay on the bed and twitch for a while

We tried to find a woolen mill that we saw advertised. It didn't have a street address, and we got lost. We ended up on a very narrow lane with high berms and twists. We rounded a corner and found two women pushing baby carriages going for a walk!

I mentioned this to our hostess this morning, and she said to me that she had moved here from Sweeden. They took her out to show her the sites and she has been baffled, since you can't actually see anything with the high fences!

We journeyed north and saw a castle where a princess was stolen away from her husband, then south to the place where she stayed for a few years. Guess she was busy - she stayed long enough to have 2 kids with the guy before heading home. They said they think she had 21 children with 6 different men, guess she was 'captured' a lot!

Today we drove to Kidwelly on our way to Cardiff, for the last part of our holiday. Kidwelly is well preserved and huge. We'll post more pics as we can.

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