adeo Insights – Kevin Murray’s Diary: Week 4, South Wales

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.

 

This week Kevin and Glenys cross the border to Wales, land of Dragons, and make their way along the beautiful South Wales Coast.

Next stop, Cardiff in South Wales, reached via the gigantic Severn Bridge. Here we visited Cardiff Castle, another spectacular site just oozing with history. The last family to own it undertook extensive (and expensive) renovations, restoring the ancient Roman walls and creating a sort of medieval dream world in the opulent residences.

Cardiff - Cardiff CastleWe spent another whole day exploring this surprising city, beginning with the extensive riverside parklands, then the Civic Centre and the National Museum with its comprehensive and informative display of the geological and paleontological history of Wales. Under unexpected blue skies we then wandered the streets, admiring the colorful low-rise buildings, the numerous pedestrian plazas and the attractive shopping arcades which make the centre of town very people-friendly. We also got to admire Cardiff‘s iconic Bay area, cleverly transformed from being the largest coal port in the world to a lively entertainment precinct dotted with some very impressive architecture, like the ginormous copper-sheathed Millennium Centre and the historic red-brick Pierhead building.

From Cardiff we ventured deeper into the mountainous Brecon Beacons area to the north, following the tortuous course of the Wye River through valleys painted with every shade of green. We explored the ruins of the surprisingly large Tintern Abbey, learning what life might have been like for a medieval Cistercian monk – not comfortable, that’s certain!

Brecon Beacons - Carreg Cennen CastleAfter overnighting at the lovely little village of Crickhowell, we caught a beautiful old steam train right into the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Expecting rugged mountains but finding green, rolling hills – albeit rather large hills! The scenery was spectacular, with the gleaming white new wool of this year’s Spring lambs dotting the bright green fields beyond mill-pond calm lakes and not a drop of rain in sight.

and so, on to Stackpole, our gateway to the glorious south coast of Wales, 200 miles of which is part of the Pembrokeshire National Park. We zigged and zagged along this rugged coast, exploring its windy headlands, sheltered coves and sandy beaches. We saw thousands of squabbling Guillemots vying for that crucial piece of ledge, high on pillars of rock thrusting above the crashing Atlantic waves. We wandered over headlands sculpted into magical shapes by sea and wind. We descended into a bleak stone hut wedged in a precipitous crevice where St Govan was supposed to have hidden from pirates. We explored the colourful town of Tenby whose pastel-shaded houses contrasted with the severity of the remnant castle ramparts.

Pembrokeshire - TenbyFrom Stackpole we continued northwards, hugging the Welsh coast. We followed the medieval pilgrim path to the smallest “city” in the world, St David’s. It achieves city status because of its cathedral, which is almost as big as the town. This beautiful cathedral with its impressive woodwork has been in more or less continuous use for over 700 years, even surviving the worst ravages of the Dissolution era. Next door to the cathedral was the Bishop’s Palace, which wasn’t so lucky. It is now in ruins but is intact enough to allow its English Heritage owners to use it as a background to cleverly convey what life must have been like in its heyday.

If you would like to explore South Wales, why not try our Cardiff, Castles and Coastlines self-drive tour or you could explore Wales on one of our popular small group tours!

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?!

 

Why you should take a Britain road trip!

There are many ways to explore Britain; an all-inclusive coach tour can be an easy and comfortable option; travelling by rail is a relaxing way to see the beautiful countryside; but here at adeo Travel we firmly believe that the best way to see the country is to hire a car and head out on the open road.

roadtrip

Flying solo in a foreign country might seem scary at first but here’s why it’s worth taking the leap:

  1. Create your own itinerary

Unlike on a group tour, you don’t have to follow a set itinerary for self-drive tours – really the only limit is your imagination! Maybe you want to go back to your roots and visit your ancestors’ hometown, maybe you want to see the filming locations of your favourite movie – Just tell us where you want to go and how long for and we’ll make it happen (within reason :P). Or, if you’re not sure, we have a great range of recommended itineraries on our website.

 

  1. Upgrade your vacation

Destinations aren’t the only thing you get to choose for yourself on a self-drive tour; you also get to choose the hotels, car and activities. So if you want to treat yourself by staying in 5* luxury you can do that! At adeo we have a massive range of hotels on offer including gorgeous castles and stately manors, historic coaching inns and luxurious spa hotels – it’s your choice!

upgrade your vacation
upgrade your vacation
  1. Set the pace

It’s the catch 22 of holidays: you want to ‘make the most of it’ but at the same time, you don’t want to get back home after your vacation feeling more exhausted than when you left! On a self-drive tour you can mix jam-packed days of sightseeing with more relaxed days where you treat yourself to a lie in or enjoy a long, lazy lunch in a country pub. Without railway timetables or Tour Leaders to dictate your schedule you’re a free agent!

 

  1. Travel the backroads

Britain is famous for its beautiful scenery: rolling English hills, spectacular Welsh coastline and magnificent Scottish mountains. By far the best way to immerse yourself in these gorgeous landscapes is by getting off the motorway and pointing the nose of your car down the narrow and winding backroads – you won’t have this kind of adventure sitting on a train!

travel the back roads
travel the back roads
  1. Be independent

Britain has so many secrets and hidden corners – many of our guests told us that they most enjoyed themselves when they headed down a road that ‘looked interesting’ or took a tip from their hotel receptionist instead of visiting another crowded tourist hotspot. The opportunity to get off the beaten track and discovering your own little corner of Britain is one of the best things about travelling by car.

Inspired? Why not take a Britain road trip with adeo travel?! You can follow one of our pre-designed itineraries like The British Journey or Icons of England or simply email us and tell us where you want to go!

A Day in St Davids #AdeoOnTheRoad

A few weeks ago I took advantage of the 3-day Bank Holiday weekend to travel down to Pembrokeshire to enjoy a weekend in the UK’s smallest city, St Davids. I spent a fab weekend taking in the spectacular scenery, incredible history and, of course, sampling quite a few tea rooms and pubs.

There’s a lot to see and do in this teeny weeny city. Here are our top tips for having a great day out in St Davids:

  1. Get there by public transport!

It’s better for the environment and gives you the opportunity to sit back, relax and concentrate on the gorgeous Pembrokeshire scenery! The Pembrokeshire Coastal Bus services run along the coast seven days a week during the summer and there is also a comprehensive local bus service. Find more information here.

Whitesands Bay
Whitesands Bay
  1. Travel back in time!

St David’s is a classic welsh village – sorry, city! – complete with pretty cottages, cosy pubs and, oh yeah, an enormous 12th century cathedral and bishop’s palace. The gothic ruin of the Bishop’s Palace and contrastingly well-preserved Cathedral are certainly worth exploring.

St Davids Cathedral
St Davids Cathedral
  1. Walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path!

Some of the most beautiful parts of the Welsh coastline are located within walking distance from the city centre. If you have an afternoon free to explore the coastline a recommended walk follows the Welsh Coast Path around St David’s head to Whitesands Bay. You can even jump on a shuttle to avoid walking along the narrow windy road back to the city.

  1. Take a boat trip to Ramsey Island!

Another must for nature lovers is Ramsey Island, an uninhabited RSPB nature reserve where you can spot thousands of rare birds and enjoy splendid views from atop the highest cliffs in Wales. If you want to explore the island RSPB wardens lead guided walks throughout the summer. Thousand Island Expeditions have exclusive landing rights for the island but there are plenty of other boat trips that will take you around the island to explore the wildlife at sea level.

Typical British Weather
Typical British Weather
  1. Eat!

Okay, after all that you must be starving! Try the café at Oriel Y Parc gallery for lunch – it has great gluten-free and vegan options for anyone with special dietary requirements. If you’re staying overnight in St David’s we recommend grabbing dinner at one of several traditional pubs located on the town’s main square. But remember that this tiny city gets extremely busy during holidays and weekends so, if you’re visiting at these times, it’s advisable to book!

 

All in all, The City of St David’s is definitely worth the extra effort to travel to and we thoroughly recommend a visit! Why not see for yourself on our Castles Coasts and Celts small group tour or Our Wales Explorer Tour.

International Museum Day Special: Britain’s Best Museums

A visit to Britain would not be complete without a visit to some of our world class museums. These include vast collections of ancient artefacts, wonderfully preserved historical sites, natural history exhibits and an infinite array of institutions dedicated to everything from football to lawnmowers, garden gnomes to witchcraft.

To celebrate International Museum Day, here’s a rundown of our top ten museums in Britain:

  1. British Museum, London
British museum
British museum

This is one of the world’s most famous and controversial museums. Dedicated to human history, art and culture the British Museum has a permanent collection of some 8 million works – you can get lost for days in here! From Egyptian Mummies to Parthenon marbles from the Acropolis of Athens and Easter Island statues, you can travel around the globe as you explore this enormous museum.

  1. Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum is one of the most popular in London. Probably most famous for the iconic diplodocus that dominates the entrance hall, you will also find animatronic dinosaurs, birds, creepy crawlies, gems and meteorites.

  1. The Roman Baths, Bath

Bath - Roman BathsThe Roman Baths at Bath is one of Britain’s best preserved Roman sites one of the most visited with around one million visitors each year. As well as the beautifully preserved ruins of the Great Bath, changing rooms and plunge pools, there is also an interactive museum which will transport you back in time to Roman Britain.

  1. The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland boasts a weird and wonderful array of exotic artefacts including a hippopotamus suspended from the rafters, a colour television dating from 1937 and an exotic bird stuffed by Charles Darwin. The wide ranging collection represents the diversity of thought and activity that came out of the Scottish Enlightenment.

  1. Churchill War Rooms, London

Hidden in the basement of a building in between Buckingham Palace and Westminster you will find Winston Churchill’s WW2 bunker and museum. Here you can walk in the footsteps of Churchill and glimpse what life would have been like during the tense days and nights of WW2. This bunker has been perfectly preserved exactly as it was left on the day the lights were switched off in 1945.

  1. Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

This Glasgow art gallery and museum is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions and features 22 themed galleries which include natural history, arms and armour, art, history and more. The most famous painting on display is the Salvador Dali masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ and other popular attractions include Sir Roger the Asian elephant and a real life Spitfire!

0976
0976
  1. Beamish – The Living Museum of the North

This is a living, working museum set in 300 acres of picturesque Durham countryside where you can experience the Industrial Revolution first hand. The museum also plays hosts to a vast program of events throughout the year including the Georgian Fair, Classic Car Day, Harvest Festival and much, much more!

  1. Big Pit National Coal Museum, Wales

Okay, so a coal museum probably doesn’t really sound that exciting but the Big Pit is much more stimulating than it sounds. The former coal mine has been operating as a museum where you will descend into the earth for an underground tour and a walk through the mine’s tunnels.

  1. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford

The world’s first university museum, The Ashmolean was founded in 1683 and now houses a world famous and extraordinarily diverse collection that ranges from Egyption mummies to contemporary art. Here you’ll find the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings, incredible Anglo-Saxon treasures and a collection of modern Chinese painting that is unrivalled throughout the Western world.

  1. National Football Museum, Manchester

National Football Museum, ManchesterAnd now for something completely different, the world’s largest museum dedicated purely to football (or soccer, if you prefer). The museum contains a fantastic mixture of stats, memorabilia and fun stuff including a radio commentary collection, the chance to lift a (virtual) trophy and plenty of interactive games!

 

Why not visit some of these fantastic museums on a road trip with adeo Travel. Try our Great Britain self-drive tour or even Great Britain by Rail.