Eyes of the World on Wales

For those of you that love Soccer, you will be aware of the emotional rollercoaster that us Welsh fans have been on during the last month.

The Welsh Boys Defying the Odds
The Welsh Boys Defying the Odds

Euro 2016 kicked off on the 10 June and was the first major competition that Wales had competed in for 58 years!

 

Surpassing all expectations, Wales reached the semi-finals, topping their group and beating star-studded teams such as Belgium on their way.

Unfortunately, the journey ended last night as Wales were defeated by Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, but what a journey it was!

The eyes of the world were truly on Wales and we as a nation did not disappoint – the future is looking bright for Welsh football once again.

It’s not just football that makes Wales a truly unique and spectacular nation (if we do say so ourselves!)

Here are a few reasons why you might want to visit us here in Wales in the future:

 

Castles

The 'Ball in the Wall'
The ‘Ball in the Wall’

Wales is often referred to as the castle capital of the world – with over 400 castles, there are more per head than any other country on the planet! Castles are so common in Wales that we even have one standing prominently in our capital city centre. Cardiff Castle often pays tribute to events around the world such as the ‘ball in the wall’ during the Rugby World Cup.

 

Heritage

The Welsh language has recently been revived and is over 1400 years old! Take a Welsh language lesson on one of our small group tours and see if you can master the pronunciation of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

 

Coastline

Wales Coast Path
Wales Coast Path

The Wales Coast Path starts in Chepstow and ends in Queensferry (that’s 870 miles!). Follow the footpath from North to South as you pass through eleven national nature reserves and many offshore islands that you can travel to by boat such as Caldey, Grassholme and Skomer.

 

Nature

If soccer doesn’t interest you, take a hike through the Brecon Beacons or Snowdonia National Park and experience the stunning views and unique picturesque scenery that will be sure to take your breath away.

The People

As Wales fans showed throughout Euro 2016, we are a friendly and welcoming people that will be sure to make you feel right at home once you step foot in the green, green grass of home (as Tom Jones would say!)

 

With the popularity of Wales increasing and the pound sterling being at an unusually weak value, our trips have never been cheaper – what better time is there to visit?!

 

Our Top Five Sites – Edinburgh

The team and I recently traded the capital of Wales for the capital of bonnie Scotland, Edinburgh!

As we alighted the plane, we were blessed to be greeted by such warm sunlight accompanied by that famous fresh and welcoming Scottish air.

The primary purpose of this trip was to get a real feel for Edinburgh as a city, we visited our most frequently used accommodations and checked out sites that make Edinburgh the spectacular city it is.

Below are a list of our top five sites that we loved and that you may choose to visit when you venture to the Scottish capital city.

Edinburgh Castle

Of course, we couldn’t visit Edinburgh without seeing the castle that sits spectacularly high in the skyline.

Edinburgh Castle View
Edinburgh Castle View

A brisk uphill walk led us to the front of the castle, where we bought our tickets and headed inside.

Atop the castle were breath-taking views of the city itself and excellent photo opportunity for all.

History enthusiasts should not miss this as there is a lot of historical information to be absorbed about the old Kings and Queens that resided here, along with accessible real life dungeons where prisoners were kept.

Admission to the Castle is only £16.50 and £13.20 for those of you over 60.

Edinburgh Old Town

After the castle we took a stroll down into Edinburgh’s Old Town, a visually stunning area of the city that features various Scottish artists, performers, shopping opportunities, bagpipes and food.

The food we had was exquisite and afterwards we ventured into a pub for a recreational taste of one of Scotland’s finest qualities – alcohol!

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur's Seat
Arthur’s Seat

A short walk from Edinburgh’s Old Town is the famous Arthur’s Seat, which isn’t just for fitness freaks – the walk only takes about 15 minutes and is a fairly leisurely pace despite the incline.

Once atop the hill, this is another unmissable opportunity for photos and different view of Edinburgh than that of from the castle.

For the budget conscious this sight does not cost a penny – oh and don’t forget to touch the stone of Arthur’s Seat once you reach the top!

Royal Mile

Before we retired back to our hotel rooms, we decided to take a proper look into Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Here we were greeted by shops, museums, historic churches, gardens and more! There is something for everyone on the Royal Mile and a perfect place to pick up those much coveted souvenirs for loved ones back home!

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Despite the fact we did not actually see this on our trip, we could not miss putting the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on our list!

This event takes places every year in August, in 2016 the dates are August 5th – August 27th, so if you are travelling Scotland in the summer, don’t forget to pick up tickets from approximately £40 and upwards.

Often described by our guests as a ‘once in a lifetime event’, the Tattoo consists of musicians, dancers and army drill teams from around the world and is embedded in Scottish culture with Edinburgh Castle lit up at night as a stunning back-drop.

To sum up, Edinburgh is a must-see city for anyone wishing to visit Britain, don’t miss out!

A Royal tour of Britain

On Saturday we’ll be celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday here in Britain! But we know that it’s not just us Brits who love Queen Liz – The British Royal family have plenty of fans all over the world.

We’d all like to catch a glimpse into the lives of one of the world’s most historic families and luckily the British Royal Family are happy to share and have opened the doors to many of their official residences to the public.

So how about a right royal tour of Britain!

  1. Buckingham palace, The Royal Mews & The Queen’s Gallery

London - Buckingham Palace (2)Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the UK sovereigns since 1837 is a must-see on any visit to the capital. More than 50,000 people visit the Palace annually as guests at State banquets, receptions and Garden Parties. Although you probably won’t manage to score a ticket to one of these, the State Rooms are open to the public when they are not being used for official functions and you can also visit The Queens Gallery and The Royal Mews.

Don’t miss: The Changing of the Guard ceremony at 11:30 every day from April – July and on alternate days for the rest of the year.

  1. Westminster Abbey 

Just around the corner from Buckingham Palace is another famous royal site. When Prince William and Kate Middleton exchanged their vows at Westminster Abbey in 2011 they became part of a centuries old tradition of royals being married, crowned and buried at the famous Abbey. Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church for the British Monarchy since 1066 when William the Conqueror became the first royal to be crowned there.

Don’t miss: A verger-led tour including the Royal tombs!

  1. Windsor Castle

Windsor - Windsor Castle (2)Just outside of London you will find Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. The castle has been the family home of British monarchs for almost 1,000 years and is an official residence or HM Queen Elizabeth II who spends most of her private weekends here. Visit the state rooms, semi state rooms and St George’s chapel which contains the tombs of ten sovereigns including Henry VIII and Charles I.

Don’t miss: Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest, most beautiful and most famous dolls’ house in the world.

  1. Sandringham Estate

Sandringham is Her Majesty the Queen’s much-loved country retreat in Norfolk and has been the private home of British monarchs since 1862. The Gardens were opened to the public by King Edward VII in 1908 and the Museum by King George V in 1930; Sandringham House was opened to the public by Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.

Don’t miss: Sampling some delicious estate produce in the Visitor Centre Restaurant

  1. The Palace of Holyroodhouse

HolyroodhouseStanding at the end of Edinburgh’s iconic Royal Mile, this fine palace is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Best known as the home of Mary Queen of Scots, the Palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes in her short reign. Visitors can explore 14 magnificent State Apartments as well as the beautiful royal gardens.

Don’t miss: Mary Queen of Scots’ Bedchamber, described as ‘the most famous room in Scotland.’

  1. The Royal Yacht Britannia

Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British monarch between 1954 and 1997, steaming over 1,000,000 nautical miles in this time. Now berthed in Leith, Edinburgh, you can step aboard this most special of Royal residences. Starting at the bridge visitors can discover the Royal Apartments, explore the Crew’s Quart

THE ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA, MOORED AT OCEAN TERMINAL, LEITH, EDINBURGH PIC - ADAM ELDER/VISITSCOTLAND/SCOTTISH VIEWPOINT. YOU MUST NOT REPRODUCE THIS PHOTOGRAPH WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION. CONTACT SCOTTISH VIEWPOINT. TEL:0044 131 622 7174. FAX:0044 131 622 7175. E-MAIL: info@scottishviewpoint.com

ers and finish at the Engine Room.

Don’t miss: home-made fudge in the NAAFI sweet shop!

  1. Balmoral Castle

In the heart of the magnificent scenery of the Cairngorms National Park lies the Balmoral Estate. Purchased by Prince Albert in 1852 for Queen Victoria, the Estate has been the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family ever since and continues to be where the Queen likes to spend her summers and where, it is rumoured, she plans to retire. Although the majority of the private residence is not open to the public, visitors can see the grounds, gardens, exhibitions and a gift shop.

Don’t miss:  a guided safari tour through the manicured parkland and gardens as well as the ancient Caledonian Pine forest, moors and mountains beyond.

 

Why not visit some of the royal residences on a bespoke self-drive tour! Or travel from London to Scotland by rail – just like HRH!

Ten magical Scottish Islands to visit instead of Skye!

This morning we came into the office to yet another slew of enquiries for guests keen to visit the Scottish Isle of Skye, and it’s got us here at adeo Travel scratching our heads!

I mean, yes, the Isle of Skye is beautiful, yes, it’s full of wildlife, dramatic coastline and intriguing history. But, it is only one out of hundreds of incredible Scottish Islands – 790 to be exact – each one more spectacularly beautiful than the last.

So here are 8 alternative Scottish Islands to visit if you want to escape the crowds this summer and experience the wild and unspoilt beauty of the Scottish Isles.

  1. Islay
Isle of Islay
Isle of Islay

The ‘Queen of the Hebrides’ is probably best known for its whisky production. Despite its size, at just 600 square kilometres, this tiny island is home to eight working distilleries – it’s certainly the Whisky Capital of the Hebrides!

Visit if: You never say ‘no’ to a dram or two!

Don’t miss: Bowmore, the oldest distillery on Islay, founded over two centuries ago in 1779

  1. Jura

This island is famed for being where George Orwell retreated to write 1984 and literary buffs can still make a pilgrimage to the remote croft house where he lived. Orwell wanted to get away from it all and you can see why he chose wild, untamed Jura where wild deer outnumber people more than 10 to one.

Visit if: You’re a novelist having an existential crisis.

Don’t miss: The Corryvrecken Whirpool, one of the largest permanent whirlpools on earth and one of the most dangerous stretches of water around the British Isles.

  1. Harris

    Isle of Harris
    Isle of Harris

You might be surprised to learn that most visitors travel to this Outer Hebridian Island for its beaches. The dazzling white sands and turquoise waters surrounding the largest island in the Outer Hebrides are reminiscent of the Caribbean. With dozens of beaches to pick from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Visit if: You’re a bit of a beach bum

Don’t miss: The volcanic islands of St Kilda, the most remote Islands in the British Isles.

  1. Orkney

Actually Orkney consists of around 70 Islands but I’ll ignore that. I’m going to leave it to the poet and storyteller George Mackay Brown, who lived on Orkney at Stromness, to sell you his island home. He wrote ‘The essence of Orkney’s magic is silence, loneliness, and the deep marvellous rhythms of sea and land, darkness and light.’

Visit if: There is a hint of whimsy in your soul

Don’t miss: The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae which is thought to be older than Stonehenge and the pyramids.

  1. Iona
Iona abbey
Iona abbey

Iona is a mystical Island accessible only by foot-passenger ferry from Mull. The Island is infused with religious devotion and is known as ‘the cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland. Iona Abbey was founded by St Columba in 563 and continues to be an important site of worship and pilgrimage.

Visit if: You are in search of peace and restoration

Don’t miss: The Fairy Hill or Hill of Angels which has been the site of pagan and Christian rituals for centuries and has been strongly associated with the world of the supernatural.

  1. Arran

One of the most accessible islands, you can drive to Arran from Glasgow in a couple of hours. Despite being so close to the hustle and bustle of the mainland you will still be able to experience the relaxed, whimsical atmosphere of island life as well as the dramatic scenery and eclectic wildlife of the Inner Hebrides.

Visit if: You’re looking for a taste of the Islands of Scotland

Don’t miss: The spectacular Glenahdale Falls, accessed by walking through an Iron Age fort and Neolithic burial mounds known as The Giants Graves.

  1. Barra

    Barra airport
    Barra airport

Beautiful Barra is the most southerly of the inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides. it was the strong hold of the Clan MacNeil and you can visit their ancient seat, the ‘Castle in the Sea’, sitting on a rock islet in Castle Bay.

Visit if: Your name is MacNeil

Don’t miss: The island’s unique airstrip on Traigh Mor Beach.

  1. Mull

The third largest of the Scottish Isles and one of the most accessible as it is served by three ferries. This island boasts a huge variety of flora and fauna including Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Otters, Whales, Dolphins and Basking Sharks.

Visit if: You are a birder or a twitcher

Don’t miss: The brightly painted waterfront houses of Tobermory.

 

If you’re tempted by any of these alternative Islands why not visit them with adeo Travel. You can visit by car on our Scottish Islands Self-Drive tour or a small group tour such as Orkneys and Scottish Highlands.

Or email us for a completely bespoke tour of the Scottish Isles!

Llangollen – North Wales’ Hidden Gem

As part of our #AdeoOnTheRoad programme, we recently headed north from our native Cardiff up to the largely undiscovered area of North Wales.

Our base in North Wales was the stunningly beautiful and historic Ruthin Castle. Despite its rich history and atmospheric castle setting, our rooms were very modern and comfortable; typical of 4* quality British accommodation. The hotel also boasts excellent leisure facilities.

While up in North Wales, the team and I decided to take advantage of our picturesque surroundings and ventured up to the mountains of Snowdonia National Park where we were greeted by a thick blanket of snow – atypical of April but a stunning view nonetheless.

IMG_20160416_100106635_HDR
Thomas in all his glory

After taking our snaps, we travelled to Llangollen – a quintessential and quaint Welsh market town in the heart of North Wales. To our surprise there was a special guest waiting for us at Llangollen Station – Thomas the Tank Engine himself!

After recovering from being star-struck, we became rather peckish and had food in a charming café named ‘Higgeldy Piggeldy’ where the service was fantastic and the food really hit the spot.

Next up on our itinerary for the day was to visit Plas Newydd – a beautiful gothic house fit with manicured gardens preserved since the 1800s; once home to two aristocratic women who received a stream of famous visitors over the years to their unpretentious home. The inside of the house was mostly untouched, except for insightful information documents that gave observers an idea of 17th century life in Llangollen and an insight in to the intriguing lives of the eccentric residents.

After a lovely day in Llangollen we retired back to Ruthin Castle and treated ourselves in the exceptional spa before a delicious 3-course meal at Manor Haus’ 5-star restaurant with rooms just a short walk away

Plas Newydd
Plas Newydd

(we also work with this property if you’re looking for something equally luxurious but a little more low-key than the castle accommodation) – after that it was safe to say we were ready for bed!

If you would like to experience Llangollen in all its glory, then be sure to enquire about one of our self-drive or coach tours featuring North Wales.

We hope to hear your very own North Wales stories soon!

Discover North Wales on the following tours:

Mountains and Medieval Fortresses (self-drive)

Wonders of Wales (small-group tour)

Castles, Coast and Celts (small-group tour)

Heart of Wales and England Tour (escorted coach tour)