Recently, I had the opportunity to spend three nights on the small-group Wonders of Wales Tour, a comprehensive tour of the great nation of Wales! Whilst researching itineraries helps us to provide a nice overview of the tour for our guests, nothing beats experiencing first-hand the quality of such trips to help us with our knowledge and expertise. And, with just 14 passengers, it was the ideal group-size for exploring.
We departed from Cardiff in Wales on a bright Sunday morning (the hottest day of the year, only to be beaten by the following day). Heading North to the Big Pit, we were sent far underground for a crash course in Wales’ coal industry, which, of course, helped a boom in the South Wales economy and helped develop cities such as Cardiff, where we at adeo Travel are based. From the Big Pit, we travelled to the open-air museum of Saint Fagans to learn about Welsh culture and life. Hidden away were some great gardens and a tea room. Finally, we headed to our overnight stay in the Bear Hotel, Crickhowell. The Hotel offers great tasting food (massive portions), and has managed to preserve the charm and draw of a country hotel in such a stunning location, largely due to the great characterful features and top hospitality.
Our next day saw us drive to Tintern Abbey, in the heart of the Wye Valley. The Abbey is famed for its connection to Dylan Thomas and J.M.W. Turner. After lunch, we drove further into the Valley and made a stop at the idyllic White Castle Vineyard. Owned by a married couple who dreamt of such an adventure, we learnt about the production of wine, and the difficulties of growing grapes in the rather harsh South Wales climate (hard to believe for our overseas guests when it was 35 degrees!). Having the evening free, we returned to the Bear Hotel to sample more of their great menu, filled with tasty home comfort foods in addition to luxury items.
On day three, my final day, we began our journey to the North Wales base of Conwy. Our first stop was the impressive Powys Castle. Most castles in Wales are historical ruins, whereas Powys Castle showed off Victorian décor with stunning views across Powys and Mid Wales. Next, we drove the short distance to the Llangollen Aqueduct. Seventy metres in the air, and for those less afraid of heights, the attraction serves as a crossing to the other side of the canal, whilst offering spectacular views across the landscape. Before heading to our new hotel, we made a quick stop at the beautiful Tu Hwnt Ir Bont tearoom. This quaint house has retained its charm and offers a great food stop for guests. From there, we checked in to our second hotel, the Castle Hotel, an old coaching inn in Wales, standing on the site of a Cistercian abbey within the UNESCO World Heritage walled town of Conwy. Finally, the balance of the day was spent in the seaside resort of Llandudno, listening an all Welsh choir. A must-see experience!
The Wonders of Wales Tour gave me an in-depth look at the way small groups are run, in addition to valuable knowledge of attractions, destinations and accommodations used. I would recommend the trip to anyone interested in a hands-free experience of Wales. Attractions I missed out on were as follows: Snowdonia, Welsh Slate Museum, Pembrokeshire Coast, St Davids, Welsh language lesson and Caernarfon Castle, to name a few. In summary, I wish I had stayed longer!
For more information on the Wonders of Wales Tour click here.
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