Discovering the “Wonders of Wales” – #adeoOnTheRoad

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 the 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.

To enquire or book click here.

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adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 1, London

It’s all very well us telling you what to see and do when you come to visit Britain but who can give you a better insight into what you can expect from an adeo tour than our guests themselves! Our guest Kevin Murray has been kind enough to allow us to publish his trip reports detailing his travels through England, Wales and Scotland this Spring.

Kevin and wife Glenys spent the first week of their trip in London. In this first installment they explore every corner of the capital as well as finding time to spend a day in the coastal town of Brighton.

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After spending a total of 22 hours on a plane, an overnight in hot and hazy Dubai and half a lifetime standing in airport queues, we finally arrived in London. We really lucked out with the hotel in Bayswater and quickly learnt how to successfully navigate the fabulous London Tube. Apart from just wandering around absorbing the myriad sights and sounds of London, we did a hop-on-hop-off boat trip on the Thames, climbed the hill to the historic Greenwich Observatory, toured the insides of the majestic Westminster Abbey and spent a whole day exploring the grounds of the fabulous Kew Gardens. Unexpectedly, all of this activity was completed beneath blue and sunny, albeit still somewhat chilly, skies… with not a drop of rain in sight for two whole days – oddly, we felt slightly “dudded”!

London - Tower Bridge (2)I spoke a little too soon about the rain, but at least it only fell overnight, leaving our third day fine for a little more sightseeing. This time to the iconic Tower of London and the adjacent Tower Bridge – “the most famous bridge in the World”, according to the Brits – with its imposing views of the impressive London cityscape…

Our fourth day in London was also surprisingly rain-free, allowing us to walk through Kensington Gardens, past Kensington Palace and the extravagant Prince Albert memorial, and to spend the rest of the day attempting to absorb the wealth of information contained within London’s superb Science Museum.

Brighton - Brighton PavilionThis has to be some sort of record… our fifth day in London and our umbrellas are yet to be used! We took advantage of the fine day and caught the train to Brighton where we visited the unbelievably opulent Royal Pavilion – marveling at the unflinching narcissism of King George IV in conceiving of and building such a monument to one man’s vision of unreality.

We knew it couldn’t last. Our sixth day in London and we finally had to deploy the brollies against the chilly drizzle. Just the type of day to spend in another museum, this time the fabulous Museum of London. We circled the ginormous St Paul’s cathedral on our way there and visited Selfridge’s department store on our way home. But the Museum itself was totally engrossing. We spent over 5 hours wandering its chronologically organized galleries but barely scratched the surface of the thousands of years of history upon which this incredible city is built.

London - St Pauls…And so we end our first week of travels. Boy, has that time flown. In a couple of days we hire a car and venture beyond London. Stay tuned…

Inspired by Kevin and Glenys? How about spending a week in London on our London and Beyond tour?

Lakes, Waters, Tarns and Snowy Mountains #AdeoOnTheRoad

This weekend an unseasonal late winter snowfall tempted me and some of my mountain-mad mates to make the 5-hour journey from South Wales to the Lake District for a spot of ice climbing and winter walking.

Can you believe this was taken with an iphone?
Can you believe this was taken with an iphone?

The Lake District is undoubtedly my favourite spot in England. For starters, the scenery is incredible: from the tops of the majestic, craggy peaks you are treated to stunning views over the glacial ribbon lakes that give the region its name. The Lake District is also home to England’s highest peak: Scarfell Pike and is a popular destination for hiking, climbing, mountain biking and kayaking.

We drove up late on Friday night, arriving late at the four-bedroom cottage where 35 of us would be staying…what can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time! That is until 35 people wanted to use the loo in the morning…

The next day dawned foggy and snowy. The mountaintops were covered in thick white clouds which didn’t look too fun but we were determined to a spend as much time outdoors as possible during our weekend away so we slogged up High Street, named after the Roman Road which once ran over its summit. We spent most of the day stuck in the clouds, which was a good excuse to treat ourselves to a pub dinner that evening!

The next day we were karmicly owed a good day and we were rewarded with possibly the best conditions I have ever had in the Lakes. The sky was clear and blue, the snow was crisp and the wind had dropped. Perfect. We returned to Glenridding, on the banks of Ullswater, to begin a hike up Helvellyn, the third highest point in

That's me with the red bag!
That’s me with the red bag!

the Lakes after the twin peaks of Scafell Pike and Sca Fell. We decided to approach the peak via a short but tricky scramble up Swirral edge which meant crampons on and ice axes out! After jogging down the mountain and just about catching our train on time, we eventually arrived home, tired, achy, soggy and happily planning our next trip!

 

Most of our guests and the several million other tourists who visit the Lakes annually don’t end up scrambling up mountains in the snow! For the less adventurous the Lake District still has plenty to offer: check out the adeo Travel destination pages for more ideas of what you can get up to on your holiday to the Lake District!

You can visit the Lake District with adeo travel by car, coach or train. Visit our website or drop us an email enquiry to find out more!

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Britain is renowned for its weather – or more accurately its rainy weather – and our obsession with it as a topic for social conversation, so this Summer we have had lots to talk about!

2012 to date has been one of our wettest years on record with the rainy weather hitting all areas of Britain even through the “Summer” months when we should be experiencing some sunshine.  Music fans have seen concerts and festivals interrupted and sporting events have been affected at the British Grand Prix (where the car parks werewaterlogged) and at Wimbledon where almost every day of the tournament saw interruptions of play due to rain (thank heavens for the roof on centre court!).

Wild Bee Orchid in English Meadow.
Wild Bee Orchid in English Meadow.

However, always one to focus on the positive, there has been one winner comeout of all this: the British countryside!  England, Scotland and Wales are renowned for their lush green landscapes and the rain fall this year has seen our woodlands and meadows come out in bloom with an unprecedented vigour.  Horticulturists have been in their element as their gardens have blossomed and as a host of new and rare wild-flowers have flourished in our countryside.  In particular a number of rare species of Orchid have thrived including the unique and beautiful bee orchid whose colourful bloom appears like a small bee insect perched in the centre of the pink and purple petals.

The 15th of July in Britain is known as St Swithun’s Day, a day dedicated to the 1st century Bishop of Winchester.  According to folklore the weather that occurs on his day each year will continue for the next forty days.  It is a bright morning today here in Cardiff so I will be selectively superstitious and hope that the next month or so will bring some sunny weather, not least for the Olympic games which is coming to London in a couple of weeks time!  But whether the weather rains or shines, if you’re walking in the countryside this Summer, make the most of the colourful array of rare flowers and keep an eye out for the bee orchid!