[This series of posts comes directly from the journal I wrote during our vacation. Most entries were written on the date noted. Some were written a couple of days later. I'm not editing them significantly, except where noted. The full collection of all posted pictures. South Wales Flickr Set.]
[Written 6/30] Punch House was our cheapest room-and the building was very cool. Our room over-looked a square and all seemed great until we felt the beds–no padding over the springs. Then in the middle of the night, some drunk dudes made a bunch of noise waking Anne and me.
[Written 6/30] We thought we had breakfast included with the room, so we headed down in the morning. It was a pathetic selection of cold cereal and juice-but we thought “Hey, its free!” On check out, we learned that it was 3£ each [$5]. Oh well, even at 52£ [$87] (including the price of the breakfast) it was still our cheapest room.
[My journal doesn't mention the bit of exploring we did in Monmouth, checking out the Monnow Bridge, where I took the picture of the ducks above.]
We left Punch House and Monmouth and went back to Tintern Abbey to explore it further. It was really gorgeous and further impressed upon me just how amazing that stone architecture really was–all the wood was gone and the stone walls and arches just stood there against the elements, seemingly precarious.
After Tintern, we went into Cardiff where we did the premium guided tour of the Cardiff Castle. It was absolutely gorgous and the guide was a real treat. The view from teh keep was phenomenal. One point of note: none of us wanted the audio guide for Cardiff Castle–we were audio-guide-ed out. So we explored at our own pace after the tour.
When we were wiped out, we headed toward our next destination, Blaen-nant-y-Groes Farm Cottages in Aberdare, an old coal mining community. This was my first “Oh Shit, I hate driving in Wales” experience because the city streets were 0.9 lanes wide and damn-near vertical.
When we arrived at the cottages, the view blew us away – looking over Aberdare in the valley, very pretty. Oh, and miniature horses in the field in front of the cottage. [Emily, of course, fell in love.]
Today we ventured a short hike into Brecon Beacons National Park. We went to the visitors center, were told about a 90 minute hike to the site of a Norman hill fort, and we set off. The views were amazing through nearly all of the hike, sheep getting spooked at every turn. We had lunch at the center over-looking a pair of peaks–very nice food and a killer view.
Next we ventured down to Gower peninsula and the town of Rhossili, which sits atop a cliff edge, probably 200 feet above the bay. More stunning views every step of the way.
First we played on the rocks near Worms Head island as the tide was coming in. [There is another tidal causeway out to Worms Head, passable by foot only, but tide was in so it was submerged.] Next we went to the beach side and hunted shells and played in the waves.
Nathan got especially wet, and felt miserable most of the way home. The wind and sun beat on us all afternoon, but the wind was cool so we didn’t feel the sun burns developing. Yet another amazing day.
[Written 7/4] Before we headed to Treffriw [in North Wales] we stopped in the Big Pit coal mine at Nathan’s request. Emily really didn’t want to go underground, but was not allowed to explore unattended above ground without a parent, so we convinced her to go with us. (She later said sardonically “I’ll never forgive you.”) Mike, our tour guide was a great ham [with a wonderful Welsh lilt to his voice] and always ended a sentence spoke to a woman with “m’love”.