Monday, September 14, 2015

An American Family in Europe, Day 10, the waterfalls of Wales

(Previously: Day 9, Doctor Who and Swansea's LC)

In parts of Britain, it's really hard to find street addresses posted on buildings. This became obvious this morning, as I wandered around trying to find a particular Barclay's Bank ATM, which was supposedly near our hotel.

With no obvious addresses, I wandered all over several blocks before finally finding the ATM -- about 100 feet from our hotel's entrance.

We picked up some sandwiches from Sainsbury's -- I came to love the "sandwich culture" of Britain -- and headed to "Waterfall Country" in Wales' Brecon Beacons National Park.

Our GPS delivered us to the Waterfall Centre in the village of Pontneddfechan (say that three times fast. Or even one time). There, we picked up a map and headed up a pretty trail in a lush, green forest. A stream ran adjacent to us. Once again, the weather gods were smiling on us -- it was slightly cool, but the sun was poking through the leafy trees.

We eventually reached several attractive falls, the best of which was named Sgwd Gwladus ("Pat, can I buy a vowel?"). We ate lunch along the trail.

Returning to the car, we had a long drive ahead of us. Crossing through Brecon Beacons we had one of the best impromptu moments of the trip. In the town of Pen-y-cae, we needed to stop to reset our GPS, so we pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant housed in something like a large two-story house. In back was a  mini-zoo with wallabys, marmosets, meerkats and more. From the road, you would have never known. What a discovery!

The restaurant advertised ice cream, so I thought we might just pop in and grab a cone. But it wasn't like a Baskin & Robbins. I ordered the ice cream at a bar, and we waited. Eventually, out came big dishes of ice cream and we sat in large, plush chairs in front of a big stone fireplace, enjoying the sweets. Total cost for four dishes: 12 pounds.

We drove on through the green, rolling hills of Wales, stopping once to look at some views, another time to visit a small "cheese dairy." The landscape was covered with farms and small towns. On this day, our GPS performed admirably -- I could never have figured our way through all these snaking, two lanes roads to our destination in Telford without the mechanical voice of our GPS guide.

Eventually, we rolled into the Wellington district of Telford and found our rental apartment, which had its quirks, including four strings hanging from the ceiling. Hey, I can understand a string to operate light, and maybe the fan. But one for the heater and even the shower?

 We all had some fish and chips that night -- the British really know how to do this fish right.  And my wife and I went out to a pub and enjoyed a pint of Crunchy Frog -- yep, that was the name.

Next: Day 11, Blists Hill and Ironbridge

The full trip, by day: 

Days 1 and 2, Los Angeles to Paris

Day 3, Paris

Day 4, the Palace of Versailles

Day 5, the Eiffel Tower

Day 6, Goodbye France, hello England

Day 7, Windsor Castle & Stonehenge

Day 8, Bath

Day 9, Doctor Who and Swansea's LC

Day 10, the waterfalls of Wales

Day 11, Blists Hill and Ironbridge

Day 12, Warwick Castle

Day 13, Oxford and Harry Potter Studio Tour

Day 14, this is London

Day 15, British Museum and British Library

Day 16, the Tube goes on strike

Day 17, Greenwich, the Thames and Westminster Abbey

Day 18, the Tower of London

Day 19, heading home  


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