Before heading back to work for the new school year, I set out on a quick UK road trip. It was not totally planned out but I had an idea..
First up, Wales.
At night after the usual commuter rush, I set off for Cardiff, South Wales. It’s about a 3-4 hour drive from Kent so I got to the hotel around 10 pm.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales so it’s essentially the Welsh version of London, but way less crowded and way less overwhelming and with the added bonus of being so close to the water.
As a lover of castles, Cardiff Castle was the obvious choice for the afternoon. For £15 per person, I could enter the castle (in the heart of the city) and get a special 50 minute tour of the historical houses on the grounds, explore the keep, wartime bunkers, museum and walk the castle walls. I also indulged with a lovely pork roast lunch sitting on the grass of the castle’s interior.
I was totally blessed with beautiful weather and I can say for the first time the Welsh sun gave me a sunburn.
Due to sheer luck, I was there during the Cardiff Pride Parade around the city (envision rainbow flags, music and costumes everywhere) and a medieval festival set-up inside the castle. Even with the extra people, the city never felt overcrowded. However, this meant a lot of the hotels were sold out and thus I stayed at a Holiday Inn in a nearby town, about a 20 minute drive from the city. It was all I needed!
I spent most of the day at the castle before wandering the High Street. Cardiff has tons of unique cafes, bars, restaurants, pubs and shops all smooshed in these beautiful buildings. Plus they’re all easy to walk to and many parts of this area are pedestrian only, so no need to worry about cars.
Next was Cardiff Bay (about a 15 minute drive from the castle) and scored a perfect parking spot right by the water. Here I walked and ate and walked some more. This area is really built-up with restaurants, shops, a ferris wheel, bars and even a small Roald Dahl fair area for kids all situated along the bay. It’s also a short walk to the Doctor Who exhibition as well if you’re looking for your tardis.
After a big dinner feast at the bay, I headed back to the hotel before moving on the following morning. It was a lovely day spent in Cardiff!
Other than signs in both English and Welsh and the Welsh Red Dragon flags, Cardiff doesn’t look much different than larger English cities. This changes once you leave the area.
Wales is totally beautiful with rolling mountains, fields, forests and lots and lots of sheep. Once I checked out of the hotel, I made my way north 4.5 hours to Conwy, a small town on the edge of the ocean. Even though the drive gets boring, the scenery doesn’t fail to impress, with winding curves around the hills and tiny villages with beautiful stone homes.
In Conwy, I stayed at Castle Hotel, a small hotel right on the High Street with free parking which makes walking everywhere a lot easier. Parking can get really expensive, so it’s ideal to find a hotel with free parking within walking distance of where you want to be. Plus this hotel was totally lovely!
I knew nothing about Conwy except it was a good distance from where I was coming from and where I needed to be. It turned out to be a great place!
What I found was that this small town boasts a beautiful castle right on the bay. Lots of pubs, fish and chips and a castle wall that surrounds the city centre. I arrived around 3 p.m. and had plenty of time to see the castle (about £8 per person to enter) walk the surrounding castle wall (free) wander around the bay, get milkshakes at a cafe, wander some more, get drinks and pizza at a pub.
This may not interest everyone, but Conwy is totally a dog-friendly town. There were so many! Even my historical-looking hotel allowed dogs, so you could see them being led down hallways or asleep under patio tables. There was a pup named Megan asleep on the middle of the floor at the pub I had dinner at.
What a beautiful place.
Since the hotel’s breakfast was a bit out of my price-range, I found a really cute cafe on the high street and had a full breakfast before stocking up on some snacks from the nearby convenience store for the next long car journey north.