6 & 7 of 40 Birthday Experiences (the specific videos coming soon!)! May 2023 - Five days exploring Wales!! Staying both in Tenby and in the south part of Snowdonia.
Ocean to Mountains / Castles to Sheep. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Day One: We landed in London early in the morning before taking the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station. Such and easy express train. Then waiting the few hours until our train to Cardiff. In Cardiff we walked the mile to Hertz to pick up our rental car and got in (Rick on the right of course!) to drive the four hours to Tenby. It was mostly larger highway roads between the two so a great way to start getting used to driving on the left again. We made it to the town of Tenby which was an amazing Giltar Hotel with a gorgeous ocean view. We explored the town taking in the cliff view of the water, the historic medieval city within the old town walls, the narrow streets, and amazing food. We had a local beer at The Lifeboat Tavern - a historic pub in old town. Then on for food and drinks at HARBWR Brewery tap & kitchen restaurant and their amazing beer garden. A late walk back to watch the sun set in our room.
The earliest reference to a settlement at Tenby was from a 9th century poem, Ethic Dinbych. Tenby was taken by the Normans, when they invaded West Wales in the early 12th century and a castle built. The town was sacked multiple times in the 1100s and 1200s until William de Valence ordered the town walls built. The “old town” walls are still there and the area within it is amazing - filled with walking cobblestone streets, old buildings, and hidden alleys. The years that followed saw prosperity with shipping merchants and visits from Henry Tudor before they declared for Parliament in the English Civil War and sacked in 1648. From there it saw a decline and in ruin with pigs roaming the empty houses. In the late 1700s when Napoleon begin conquering Europe and visited, his people purchasing property and investing in the area for the spa benefits. The area started seeing summer tours by the rich Victorians in the early 1800s - including creation of beach walkways for nannies to take children for long seaside walks for health benefits - which actually led to them still having great disability access to the beaches today. A rail line opened in the late 1800s and the economy continues to be based on tourism.
Day Two: Wonderful breakfast in our hotel before heading out to one of the two beautiful Tenby beaches. To be honest, we went to Wales for the rainy cool weather (yes we are those people) and were a bit disappointed that it was so warm out! Kassie even needed to get a pair of sandals. Any excuse to shop. We walked around exploring the town before stopping for lunch and a beer at the patio of Tenby House Hotel. It was absolutely delish. One great thing we found overall in Wales are plenty of vegetarian options for both and pescatarian options for Kass. Here Kass jumped headfirst out of her food comfort zone with “pocket potato with tuna, corn and mayonnaise” which translated to a baked potato with tuna salad on top. Then on to a beer at the HARBWR Brewery Patio in an alley - which was a wonderful experience. We headed out to the beach and to St. Catherine’s Island - which was a Napoleonic Fortress on an island. It was so cool to walk around. We then explored for a while and had some delicious ice cream before having dinner back at HARBWR Kitchen and Tap again (obviously we found favorites) and back for the evening.
Day Three: We woke up and grabbed coffee and a pastry from No 25 Cafe before heading out in the car to Caerphilly and to walk some sheep (OMG!!!) at Duffryn Farm. The baby sheep stole our hearts! Highly recommend! It was so much fun! After that we headed to Caerphilly Castle - which is a great one to really explore and walk around. Caerphilly Castle was built in 1268 and the second largest castle in Britain with water defenses and layers of walls. Just make sure to watch the direction signs on where to walk. With a wonderful lunch and pint at the Court House with a view of the castle - before heading north towards Snowdonia. The roads quickly went from highway to very tight 2 lane roads. It was a bit nerve-racking for Rick but the view was gorgeous. We made it to our AirBnB in Abergynolwyn (in the south part of Snowdonia National Park). It is a Slate Minors Cottage built in the 1860’s and it was perfect. We also got to stay next to Ifor Lewis, a wonderful elderly neighbor that was so incredibly helpful and loaned us books on the area, found Kass’ lens cap, and provided colorful commentary throughout. We ended with wine in our private yard with an amazing view and some spaghetti.
Day Four: An early breakfast in Dolgellau at Yr Hen Efail. Delish Vegetarian English Breakfast and beautiful town! Then up (and on some two way/ single lane roads that Rick was not a fan of) to get to Capel Garmon Burial Chamber. This was amazing and the oldest structure we’ve seen to date - from the Neolithic era and erected in 2500 - 1900 B.C. for the communal burial of the dead. It was an interesting (but beautiful) drive there and then a walk through two kissing gates and past some sheep to find it. We missed the second kissing gate and ended up wondering through the pasture for a bit - which was a lovely drive break. We drove a ways to get up here and weren’t in the mood to drive much more - so we decided for a quick break at Betws y Coed Park Information Center in Betws-y-Coed and to see the famous Pont-y-Pair Bridge. Due to the warm weather and the nice day - it was packed with swimmers. Picked up some snacks and them back to the cottage just in time for a beer and a long walk searching for a waterfall (without luck) to then head up to find a hiking trail and another waterfall before coming out at the back of our cottage! Exhausted and sleep!
Day Five: Breakfast in our garden before saying goodbye to Ifor and heading to Castle y Bere - an amazing castle ruins on the top of a hill. Private - we were the only people there for the hour we explored and relaxed. The castle was built in 1221 and is an amazing example of structures of this time. There were signs all over in both Welsh and English to read about the room you are standing in. Then on to Dolgoch Falls - which is a beautiful waterfall to climb up. After that we stopped for lunch and a pint at Ty’n y Cornel and then drove back to Cardiff for a stay. A few tired explorations and stumbling on Tiny Rebel (a wonderful brewery!) before crashing for the night.
Day Six: We dropped the car off at Hertz before grabbing the train back to London > Underground to Farringdon Station > Gatwick Express Train to the Gatwick Airport and back to New York! Whew
Important Links and additional information:
Giltar Hotel - Tenby, Wales: https://www.giltar-hotel.co.uk/
The Lifeboat Tavern - Tenby, Wales: https://thelifeboattavern.com/
HARBWR Brewery - Tenby, Wales: https://harbwr.wales/
Tenby House Hotel Restaurant - Tenby, Wales: https://www.tenbyhousehotel.com/food--drink.html#SPECS
St Catherine’s Island - Tenby Wales: https://saintcatherinesisland.co.uk/
Duffryn Sheep Walking - Caerphilly, Wales: https://www.duffrynsheepwalking.co.uk/
Caerphilly Castle - Caerphilly, Wales: https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/caerphilly-castle
Court House - Caerphilly, Wales: https://www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/pubs/mid-glamorgan/court-house/?utm_source=g_places&utm_medium=locations&utm_campaign=HT_pubpage
Castell y Bere: https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/castell-y-bere
Tiny Rebel Brewery: https://www.tinyrebel.co.uk/
What started as 40 from august to august has expanded to the start of 2023 to August 2024. Due to other people planning things that we want to join… before August 2023. This is the celebration of “omg Kassie survived 40 years - we never thought it would happen.” Maybe the next 40, I’ll be more careful so it won’t be so surprising. 40 “experiences” have to be #1 unique, #2 require the day and night in the location to count, #3 that’s it.
Originally from Iowa (Kassie) and Kansas (Rick), we met in Kansas in 2005 and immediately found that we had so much in common - including our desire to someday see the world. We now live in NYC and quickly started catching up on travel after our first (just us) international trip to Iceland in 2015. We decided to start making videos for us and our family/friends to track our travels. Kassie is in Marketing, an Author (see her poetry + author videos), and Puppet Creator. Rick is an Engineer and Script Writer (see our current and coming puppet movies!)
YouTube Site: https://www.youtube.com/@KassieAndRick-ExploreManyPaths
Kassie's Author Site: https://www.kassiejrunyan.com/
Joint Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore_many_paths
Kassie's Magazine: https://www.opendoorpoetrymagazine.com/