A Travellerspoint blog


A Lost Day in Wales . . .

. . . Things begin to run together -- or I've had one too many ales!


First, the ale thing. I alway surprise myself when traveling because I drink beer. At home, unless I am with buddies chatting, I rarely drink beer -- so I pint is quite a lot of beer for me in one sitting. Before you think "me thinks she doth protest too much," I'll move on.

I was looking at my photos an know that I forgot to mention a couple of places. On my trip around the Llyn peninsula, I saw a sigh for a place called Hell Mouth, and ever interested in things related to hell, I took the turn. It was a beautiful and wild semi-circular beach.The wind was stiff and the surf was high. People were out on surf boards in their wet suits. It was awesome. There was even a tea vendor at the parking lot.

One thing that I found different from the US is that all roads have frequent parking areas, and many of the parking areas have lunch wagons that seem to do a brisk business with locals and drivers.

I moved my headquarters in Wales from Caernarfon to a hotel about 15 miles inland from Aberystwyth on the Cardigan Bay. One day I headed toward the south coast town of Tenby. There were a few places that looked interesting to see, and all of the photos I saw made the town look charming. I cut across country climbing up and sailing down mountains and hills patch worked in greens and speckled with sheep. As I passed through coastal villages, the stone gave way to stucco and the row houses were each painted a different pastel color: peach, beige, celery, sky blue, pink, and yellow. Very cute. Tenby is a charming little town with cute shops, a host of eateries, and several places to visit. I wanted to visit a National Trust property, a Medieval merchant's house. It was positively opulent compared to the farm house I saw earlier. The ceilings were high
And the windows were glazed. All of the rooms had fireplaces - the builder was apparently wealthy. Off the shore of Tenby is a monastic island, and I was tempted, but my tendency toward seasickness and schedule did not permit.

From there I went into Pembroke to see the castle, but it was closed for the first time in memory for a shooting of a BBC version of Richard III - " A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" Drat! I stopped at Manorbriar Castle, owned and occupied by an individual. The inner Bailey had been transformed into a garden which was very lovely with the ruins and all. Gerard of Wales, a 13th century church man who was a contemporary of Becket, was born here. A favorite. Seeing this castle made me want to read one of my old favorite romance novels Roselynde by Roberta Gellis. I drove from there out to Saint Davids, a very picturesque and historical town.

As I was driving, I saw a sign for a tomb, so I turned off and followed roads which narrowed down to sing track - a frequent occurrence in Wales. I arrived at a dolmen on the top of a hill. It was called Pentre Ifan. A dolmen is a collection of upright stones with a large cap stone. The were burial chambers once covered with earth, but now with only the stones remaining. Pentre If an dated back to 3000 BC. It's weird; these move me more than the pyramids. Last stop for the day was a recreated Iron Age Village near Cardigan. It was very interesting.

Great day!

Posted by bczlapinski 10:51 Archived in Wales Tagged dolmen tenby Comments (0)

Too much to see, no time to blog

Back to Snowdonia and beyond

It was a drizzly day, and I headed out for Snowdonia National Park. On way I stooped at a place called Ugly House which I thought was rather rustic and cute. I went to Betws-y-Coed which means a chapel in the woods. It is a cute but very touristy little village complete with huge bus loads of tourist. I walked around a bit, but soon headed out to see a Welsh farmhouse way out in the country on an old drover's road. A Bishop William Morgan lived here while he translated the Bible into Welsh. The house was very small and underscored the simple yet busy lives people must have lived. There was no glass in the windows, just shutters . . . Brrrrrr. The setting was beautiful - I wondered it they drove cattle or sheep along the drover's road. my last adventure that day was to find a set of standing stones, but I would have had to go onto private property -- pretty common around here -- but I was uncomfortable and it was very remote.

The next day, sunny and bright, I headed out to the Llyn Penninsula to the south of Caernarfon. I spent most of the day driving around. the views were spectacular. I wanted to visit a National Trust property called Plas yn Rhiw- a restored cottage, but I was too early. I then went into the seaside town of Cricceith to see the castle. This castle is vastly ruined by quite picturesque just the same. Back toward Caernarfon, I stopped at a place called Glyniffon Manor. It sounds an awful lot like Glenowen to my untrained ear, so I was hoping to find the place that inspired Eleanor Sleath to write her novella Glenowen. The house there was too late for Sleath to have seen it, it is a Georgian estate with columns and statues flanking the front. The house that was there in 1810 - 1815 was brick. The grounds had an arboretum, grottoes, and damp cavelike ferneries. I do so wish it was the inspiration.

I checked out of the Black Boy Inn on the 30th and headed up the coast taking the long was to Aberystwyth. My first stop was Rhuddlan Castle where I was alone. I was able to say, not shout, for Ryan: "I fart in your general direction!" This castle was less ruined than Cricceith, and was interesting to see. Next was Valle Crucis Abbey which was a spectacular set of ruins, very picturesque as long as you disregard the caravan park next door - within a stone's through, actually.

My next stop was Powis Castle -- more of a Tudor fortified palace - with terraced garden. After all of the gray-toned buildings in Wales, the terra-cotta color of Powis Catle was nice. The gardens were lush with fragrant plants -- many I had never seen before. I had a snack in the little cafeteria and then went into them palace. There was only one room restored to the original Tudor style with most of the house stuffed Victorian style. there were magnificent paintings and decorations.

I arrived at my new hotel The George Borrow Hotel tired, but was greeted warmly.

Posted by bczlapinski 11:19 Archived in Wales Tagged castle abbey valle powis rhuddlan crucis Comments (1)

Caernarfon Hub

it works!

sunny 19 °F

I selected Caernarfon as my hub for visiting this part of Wales because of the castle and it's status as a World Heritage site. I booked my stay at The Black Boy Inn back in November 2010 when first planing my trip. The Inn is lovely . . . Historical and comfortable. My single room with a twin bed is tucked up in the rafters and I am serenaded by gulls all day. they are particularly raucous at sunset and dawn. Everyone here is friendly, the food is good, and the beer is cold. Can't beat that.

Friday started off sunny, so I crossed the bridge in Bangor to the Island of Anglesey. I went to Beaumaris Castle and had the castle to myself! What a treat! The castle is very pretty with a moat going all around it -- there was even a pair of swans. Beaumaris is beautifully symmetrical wit) towers at each corner, but it was never finished. One of Edward I's castles, it was never strategically important enough to complete.

From Beaumaris, I went to a little place called Penmon where there are several things to see. in the 600s a hermit, later canonized as Saint Seriol, had a hut near a spring -- St. Seriol's Well. There are the ruins of a 13th century priory, an a section which has been incorporated into a church. Inside the church are several stones with Celtic carvings. There is a dovecot -- a building to house doves, apparently a tasty dish. Up there road was a light house and a view of Puffin Island --Ynys Seriol. St. Serial and his followers built hermitages on the island.

From there I drove along the outside rim of the island enjoying the spectacular scenery. On Holy Head Island, I ate lunch at South Stack Nature Reserve and relaxed. From there I went to Bryn celli ddu, a stone burial site which was a very cool. it was in the middle os a sheep pasture, and looked like a little mound of earn covered with grass. There were stone openings at each end, and you can go in and see inside. I had a flashlight with me because I had read that they had discovered carvings on the rocks. It was cool to be in a place over 4000 years old.

I then drove into. Snowdonia since the weather was still decent. The mountains are spectacular -- not particularly high as mountains go,but breathtaking just the same. Sheep were every where.

AWESOME day. Sorry I can't get photos up . . . Apparently it is an iPad thing. So much for THAT step in the planning.

Posted by bczlapinski 06:29 Archived in Wales Tagged snowdonia caernarfon anglesey beaumaris bryn cello ddu Comments (0)

A thousand mile journey . . .

Begins with one step. The Tao Te Ching

sunny 19 °F

My dream trip began yesterday with an uneventful flight. Although I had bits of sleep on the bus and planes, I was pretty weary when I arrived at Birmingham Airport. it was clean and everyone was helpful. The rental car is cute, but My first 10 miles or so were harrowing. The manual/stick shift on the left wasn't too bad and there are rotaries every 5 miles or less, so I got used to those quickly. My GPS worked extremely getting me right to Caernarfon, where my fist stop was the castle, of course.

So here's a bit of info about the castle. it was built on the orders of King Edward I in his efforts to bring the rebellious Welsh under Norman dominion as part of his "ring of iron." Construction began in 1283 on the foundations of an earlier Roman fort and 11th century motte and bailey castle. While my castle interest is purely Romantic from an early over-consumption of romance novels, the essence of this building is raw power. the inner Bailey is massive . . . The photos speak for themselves -- if the link works! Click here for Caernarfon inner Bailey!

For more details on castle history and construction: http://www.castlewales.com/caernarf.html

Posted by bczlapinski 00:03 Archived in Wales Tagged castle caernarfon Comments (1)

It's getting close!

Seeing what fits in the suitcase -- or not.

First, I had to buy a suitcase. I had a 28" wheeled suitcase that I bought cheaply for my Cairo trip. I was fine, but heavy empty and, when loaded constantly tipped over. I am a ebags customer, so I checked out their offerings first. I wanted something light but sturdy and that would hold enough clothes for at least a week. I spent hours and hours looking at luggage at ebags and other venders and finally settled on the Mother Lode Jr 25 inch wheeled duffel Quick link.. The reviews were good and the price was reasonable.

The bag arrived this week. Just as described it is light and seems to be sturdy -- we'll see after the luggage handlers are through with it! All of the stuff I wanted to bring fit -- so I'm happy.

I found a good packing list for women traveling to Europe at Rick Steven's website. Quick Link I am sure he has one for men, too. I am not going to bring too many toiletries -- they sell shampoo, toothpaste and soap in Wales! Why drag it all the way from the US.

I am renting a car and am, to be honest, anxious about the first couple of hours behind the wheel -- look out all of you in Birmingham!. I did get a Garmin GPS that supposedly has UK maps. I need to figure out how to pre-program some places. So now I just have to sit back and wait.

So here is a poem by Allen Ginsburg about visiting Wales:

Wales Visitation
By Allen Ginsberg 1926–1997 Allen Ginsberg
White fog lifting & falling on mountain-brow
Trees moving in rivers of wind
The clouds arise
as on a wave, gigantic eddy lifting mist
above teeming ferns exquisitely swayed
along a green crag
glimpsed thru mullioned glass in valley raine—

Bardic, O Self, Visitacione, tell naught
but what seen by one man in a vale in Albion,
of the folk, whose physical sciences end in Ecology,
the wisdom of earthly relations,
of mouths & eyes interknit ten centuries visible
orchards of mind language manifest human,
of the satanic thistle that raises its horned symmetry
flowering above sister grass-daisies’ pink tiny
bloomlets angelic as lightbulbs—

Remember 160 miles from London’s symmetrical thorned tower
& network of TV pictures flashing bearded your Self
the lambs on the tree-nooked hillside this day bleating
heard in Blake’s old ear, & the silent thought of Wordsworth in eld Stillness
clouds passing through skeleton arches of Tintern Abbey—
Bard Nameless as the Vast, babble to Vastness!

All the Valley quivered, one extended motion, wind
undulating on mossy hills
a giant wash that sank white fog delicately down red runnels
on the mountainside
whose leaf-branch tendrils moved asway
in granitic undertow down—
and lifted the floating Nebulous upward, and lifted the arms of the trees
and lifted the grasses an instant in balance
and lifted the lambs to hold still
and lifted the green of the hill, in one solemn wave

A solid mass of Heaven, mist-infused, ebbs thru the vale,
a wavelet of Immensity, lapping gigantic through Llanthony Valley,
the length of all England, valley upon valley under Heaven’s ocean
tonned with cloud-hang,
—Heaven balanced on a grassblade.
Roar of the mountain wind slow, sigh of the body,
One Being on the mountainside stirring gently
Exquisite scales trembling everywhere in balance,
one motion thru the cloudy sky-floor shifting on the million feet of daisies,
one Majesty the motion that stirred wet grass quivering
to the farthest tendril of white fog poured down
through shivering flowers on the mountain’s head—

No imperfection in the budded mountain,
Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,
daisies push inches of yellow air, vegetables tremble,
grass shimmers green
sheep speckle the mountainside, revolving their jaws with empty eyes,
horses dance in the warm rain,
tree-lined canals network live farmland,
blueberries fringe stone walls on hawthorn’d hills,
pheasants croak on meadows haired with fern—

Out, out on the hillside, into the ocean sound, into delicate gusts of wet air,
Fall on the ground, O great Wetness, O Mother, No harm on your body!
Stare close, no imperfection in the grass,
each flower Buddha-eye, repeating the story,
Kneel before the foxglove raising green buds, mauve bells dropped
doubled down the stem trembling antennae,
& look in the eyes of the branded lambs that stare
breathing stockstill under dripping hawthorn—
I lay down mixing my beard with the wet hair of the mountainside,
smelling the brown vagina-moist ground, harmless,
tasting the violet thistle-hair, sweetness—
One being so balanced, so vast, that its softest breath
moves every floweret in the stillness on the valley floor,
trembles lamb-hair hung gossamer rain-beaded in the grass,
lifts trees on their roots, birds in the great draught
hiding their strength in the rain, bearing same weight,

Groan thru breast and neck, a great Oh! to earth heart
Calling our Presence together
The great secret is no secret
Senses fit the winds,
Visible is visible,
rain-mist curtains wave through the bearded vale,
gray atoms wet the wind’s kabbala
Crosslegged on a rock in dusk rain,
rubber booted in soft grass, mind moveless,
breath trembles in white daisies by the roadside,
Heaven breath and my own symmetric
Airs wavering thru antlered green fern
drawn in my navel, same breath as breathes thru Capel-Y-Ffn,
Sounds of Aleph and Aum
through forests of gristle,
my skull and Lord Hereford’s Knob equal,
All Albion one.

What did I notice? Particulars! The
vision of the great One is myriad—
smoke curls upward from ashtray,
house fire burned low,
The night, still wet & moody black heaven
upward in motion with wet wind.

July 29, 1967 (LSD)—August 3, 1967 (London)

Allen Ginsberg, “Wales Visitation” from Collected Poems, 1947-1980. Copyright © 1984 by Allen Ginsberg. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Buy or borrow this book:
Source: Selected Poems 1947-1995 (2001) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179386

Posted by bczlapinski 16:42 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

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