The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
North Wales Itself

The Route Despite what the airlines would have you believe, getting there is definitely NOT half the fun, even in business class. I acknowledge that sitting " up front" is more comfortable than coach to be sure, but it's hardly an experience to be savored, even with lie-flat seats (I never seem to be able to sleep on a plane no matter what the sleeping position). Besides, when you figure the time it takes for a dinner service after takeoff and a breakfast service before landing, there were only about four hours or so of potential sleep time, hardly enough to worry about.

So I had yet another "movie night" and arrived back in Manchester at 7:30am, only to discover that my train ticket back to Colwyn Bay (directly from the Manchester airport: very civilized!) was not an open return after all, but rather for the 10:30 departure. Suddenly that missing sleep looked a lot more attractive! So it was almost 1:00pm when I finally got back to the house and we headed down to the pub for lunch before heading off in search of adventure.

Well, maybe not actually adventure, but after a few days of not seeing (or showing you) anything of the area, we just had to finish strong! There are probably more castles per square mile in Wales than anywhere else in Europe. The English found the Welsh extremely difficult to subjugate, triggering a rash of castle construction on both sides for offensive and defensive purposes. There are probably half a dozen castles Within 25 miles of Colwyn Bay and we did a drive-by shooting of a few of them.

It appears that the majority of these ancient edifices are now just hollow shells, so "seeing" them involves mostly climbing steep spiral stone staircases to pass through empty stone rooms or walk along defensive ramparts. My new knee has been holding up well but lots of climbing is still problematic for me ... and has always been difficult for Margene. So we look at the massive exteriors, appreciate the history, save $30 a visit, and motor on to the next sight. Are we getting smarter or just getting older?

I liked the reserved sign on a table in the pub. It impressed me as being informative and respectful without getting all authoritarian. Fortunately, most signs in Wales are in both Welsh and English. Welsh, as you can see, is difficult to get your mind -- let alone your mouth -- around! These names are relatively easy. How about a town on the Isle of Anglesey named (no kidding) Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?

Caernarfon (Kah-NAR-von) Castle is the traditional home of the Prince of Wales, and as such is the most famous castle in Wales. It is slickly presented but essentially just an empty shell.

Between Caernarfon and Colwyn Bay on the Isle of Anglesey is Beaumaris Castle. It is a pretty, seemingly pocket-sized fortification with a partial moat. It was the final link in King Edward's "Iron Chain" of castles to enclose the rebellious former kingdom of North Wales. Started in 1295, it was never finished. One route onto the island is over the Menai Suspension Bridge, an engineering marvel of the early 19th century.

Remember that windfarm I mentioned a couple of days ago? This is just part of it.

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