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Published: June 24th 2010
We had always wanted to take a trip up to Snowdonia in North Wales and it did not disappoint - The area is absolutely stunning! It snowed every day we were there and everywhere we looked there were postcard perfect pictures! We drove up from London to Betws-y-coed and on arrival were stunned with how quaint the village was. (Thanks Hywel and Kirsten for the suggestion!!) We stayed at a gorgeous guesthouse right on the river, with charming hosts. After checking in it was a very short walk right across the bridge to a quaint little pub for some mulled wine and guiness! After this, it was off to dinner…. we had booked dinner at the Bistro in town in advance (thanks to the suggestion of our guesthouse hosts a couple of months prior to arrival). It was fantastic! Really charming place with loads of character, fantastic food, super friendly service and loads of little extras that culminated in a top rate dining experience! We couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
The following morning, after a great big cooked breakfast, and a wander through the village, our hosts at the guesthouse suggested some places nearby that we might like to visit
and we were off! First up, we drove through the village to nearby Swallow Falls which was very scenic! Up next, a picturesque drive through the snowy countryside with views of Mount Snowdon, and past all the mountains covered in slate, to Caernarfon where we visited the cool castle there, clambering up and down stairs and through turrets and halls. The castle is in pretty good repair and really gives a sense of life back then.
We drove on and stopped for a pub lunch beside a roaring fire in Beddgelert. It was a small, quaint village with stone built dwellings, inns and small hotels beside a river. Quite charming!
Then we got taken completely by surprise by Port Mierion. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we had been told a television show (“The Prisoner” 1967-1968) had been made there years ago and it was very unique! Well, we pulled off the main roads and drove for a wee while down some roads that looked more like private roads (we wondered if we’d make a wrong turning!) and eventually into the carpark. The posters were nothing like we imagined - a very colourful collection of buildings
that looked like they had been transported from Italy directly onto a piece of estuary shoreline in Northern Wales. We soon realised that there was an entrance fee to be paid just to go into the town and were considering whether it was worth it when a jolly staff member said it was late in the afternoon and that if we wanted to have a short look, to consider it a Christmas pressie from him! So, with nothing to lose, and once again charmed by the Welsh people, off we went… Now, I don’t know if we can describe this place. But we’ll try…. The land on which Portmeiron sits was the site of a foundry and boatyard active in the late 18th century. In the 1850s the main buildings and cottages were developed into a private estate. Portmerion was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (an Englishman who was raised in Wales from when he was 4) and is based on his love of Italy and the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. He designed and constructed the village between 1925 and 1975 on the grounds, incorporating fragments of demolished buildings. It is a completely surreal place! It was a cold grey
day in Wales and suddenly you are surrounded by houses and buildings in every colour under the sun, with pools and exotic plants and statues. It is said that Sir Clough William-Ellis' design processes and ideas used here were noted as an influence on the development of postmodernism in architecture in the late 20th century. So there. A short history lesson for you! It was overall, very quirky and a cool place to visit… just so random!
From there it was back to Betws-y-Coed and we were reminded all over again how picturesque, charming and unspoilt a place it was. We adored Betws-y-Coed and hope one day we get to go back!
On the way to the Lake District in England we also stopped by Conwy Castle, which was very different from Caernarfon, felt more deserted. It was probably slightly larger than other similar castles we have seen, and another cool feature were the epic town walls that started and finished at the castle and then surrounded much of the town, obviously a fair amount has been added to the town since the castle was built in 1289.
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