Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Colwyn Bay - The last days...



Saturday wasn't the most exciting day.  It started off alright, but turned into a miserably wet day.  I had promised to go to a geocaching picnic in the park just around the corner and did so, but should've stayed home. I was the only who was going to attend anyway and after a bit of a search I saw two women who looked like they could be geocachers.  Not that they identified themselves clearly, not even a GPS in hand!  Anyway, as it was they were the ones I'd been looking for.  Without proper introductions we took off to look for the nearest geocache together, found it, scribbled our names in the logbook and walked back to our meeting place.  From there we said our goodbyes and I hurried back home where I ate my picnic lunch!

My shoes were soaked and beyond drying in a hurry, so, when it cleared up later in the day Sal and I went to Llandudno where I bought an extra pair of walking shoes, having found my favourite brand: Sketchers.


Sunday proved to be a lot better and Chris and Sal invited a Polish girl, Monika, to join us for a bit of sightseeing.  Monika has been in the country for a year now, worked mostly and had not seen much of Wales, or rather, had not seen anything at all.

Chris showed her Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch station (as you do) and on the way back we had a brief stop at the Gazelle Hotel at Menai Bridge for a cool drink.

Then it was onward to Aber Falls for a walk and a search for a few caches.  By then we had introduced Monika to the game and she liked to actively take part.

The track to Aber Falls

Old charcoal burning facility

Murals at the information centre

Smaller falls along the way

Aber Falls in the distance

Sal at some ancient ruins
Aber Falls closer

Down at the bottom

Aber Falls

Chris and Dylan

Picnic area

An old water wheel

Just a nice building

Views from a bridge

Monika and Sal
Along the way we also found 2 caches of the 3 that we'd been looking for:

#2 Aber Falls - The Rock

 #3 Aber falls - Exhibition

The zip line in North Wales, Zip World, is also worth a visit, so that's next on the list.  Not something that you'd see me do in a hurry.  The height and speed are not to my liking.  It was worth watching though and we settled down with a cool ice cream to watch the 'zippers' go by...

The quarry lake at Bethesda (the zip line runs across)

People 'zipping' along

The zip line starts in the top right-hand corner

The last visit on our list was Llyn Geirionydd, a large lake, also in Sowdonia national park.  But, before we went there we stopped off at a restaurant where we'd been before: Tu-Hwnt-I'r Bont, where we enjoyed a cuppa with the traditional scones with jam and cream.

Then it was on to the lake where we went for another walk, or rather, call it a climb (!) in search of a few more caches.  We found two, one of which was found by Monika to her great delight.

It was a loooong way up (and down!)


 Woggle Walk - Llyn Geirionydd


Woggle Walk - Junction 


And then it was time to go home.  Just as well, the legs were getting a bit tired... ;-)
As you can tell from the pictures we're not in the convertible, because it's gone back to the dealer for repairs.  Today we are driving a SUV, which was the reason why Chris could invite Monika as well, because Dylan had his own space in the (open) boot.

Driving past the lake...

...on the way home



On Monday the weather was nice too, but I felt more like logging my caches and reading then going out again.  Unlike everyone here who 'lives' outside when the sun is out I can take it a bit more laid-back.  We don't get so overly excited about a bit of sun anymore. :-)
I went on the morning and afternoon walks, but my calves started to cramp.  Think I've overdone the climbing a bit the last few days....



Tuesday was a big surprise.  We woke up to a cloudless sky and the temperature climbed steadily to an unusual 35 degrees late in the afternoon. 

A cloudless sky in the morning

Washed the bird poop off my hire car. Boy these seagulls are big poopers! :-)

I had not been on the morning walk as I was hurting too much, but went with Chris on a few rides when he had some business to conduct. The weather was perfect for it and we made a trip to Llandudno and later in the afternoon to Llanberis where Chris needed to get some gear at the scuba diving business.
As I had to wait with Dylan we went for a walk into the quarry again and later I decided to go and get one of the nearby caches.



geocache found around the corner

The quarry where the divers go

Steam train at Llanberis

We went for our usual short walk at Little Orme at the end of the afternoon and later, at home, we had 'raclette' for dinner.  This is a lovely type of cheese fondue.  As it was still very hot I really wanted to lie down after dinner and read until bedtime.  No urge to exert myself. :-)


We woke up to a thunderstorm and rain on my last day at Colwyn Bay, but nothing like the thunderstorms we experience at home.  A light rumble of thunder and some rain was all.  We didn't go for the early walk though, but went for a beach walk later and looked for some caches at the same time.

Pier Pressure #4 - Colwyn Bay


The second cache we went for we didn't find, but we suspect it had disappeared, so I have approached the cache owner.  When I got up from bending over to take a picture I hurt my back and could hardly walk to the car.  Not surprising I will be staying at home the rest of the day and try to get over it before tomorrow when I have to drive 4 hours to London to return the hire car and meet up with my travel buddy for the next fortnight. 

So, next time you may find me in Scotland or at least on the way to...

Till then.


Saturday, 16 July 2016

Colwyn Bay - Thursday and Friday

I am nearing my last week in Colwyn Bay and thus my chances of seeing everything I want to see are getting smaller.  A good reason to have another go at visiting Portmeirion after last week's washout.

Although I love to drive here, I took Chris' advice and drove part of the way after which I could enjoy a train ride on a steam train. 

Driving here is such a pleasure.  A fantastic car, my favourite fm classical radio station, beautiful scenery....  I couldn't wish for more.

I was surprised though to see a special transport in front of me: a house on a truck like we sometimes see in Australia!  There was a pilot car, but no police to be seen.  The truck made considerable speed and managed to manoeuvre quite well on the very narrow roads.  Luckily the wide part of the load, the house, was high up so that cars which had stopped along the roadside to let the truck through were not hit.  A different matter was it for trucks and the occasional bus.  The pilot car had to stop them way ahead.  It all went quite well, but I still kept my distance, just in case. :-)

Initially I was a bit worried about catching the train on time (there weren't that many on the timetable), but after a while the road ahead of me was clear again and I could enjoy the rest of my ride in peace and quiet till I got to Blaenau Ffestiniog, where I had to park the car and get on the train.

Again I was lucky with my parking.  The car park close to the station was only for short stay, so I had to find one further down the road.  Again one with a ticket machine which was out of order.  The council worker assured me that I wouldn't get into trouble, so a free park it was for a second time!

The train arrived not long after I'd bought my ticket and I had a choice of seats.  All the carriages were different, because this is a scenic railway with trains put together from the past.  I found myself a first class with tables, so handy later on when I had coffee and cake during the one hour ride.

Following are some impressions on the train:

A stop at one of the stations

Interior of my carriage

View from the train

The loc of an oncoming train

At Minffordd I had to get off and walk 30 minutes to Portmeirion.  This was not a big deal as the weather was fine.

Part of the path to Portmeirion

The castle/restaurant where I'd parked the week before


The path lined with hortensias

At the end of this pleasant walkway I found Portmeirion where I spent a few hours.  The following pictures are an impression of this 'Italianate Village':

Because of the train ride and walk I could only spend a few hours at the village itself.  As I hadn't had time to take a packed lunch I looked around for a restaurant where I could have a bite to eat.  I found one, sat down and ordered a 'quick' bruchette.  Well, the 'quick' was going to last 25 minutes after which I asked a waitress what was happening with my meal.  She apologised and said that she had forgotten, because she had a big group order.  I could cancel or wait another 5 minutes.  I decided to wait, but, when after 10 minutes the meal had still not appeared I drained the last bit of my, by then cold, moccha and made for the door.  The waitress gestured that my meal was just ready, but I told her it was too late, I was leaving.  I offered to pay for the moccha though, but this was declined.  Just as well!  That was the least they could do.

As by now I had the shakes, as it was way past my normal lunchtime, I hurried to find another restaurant and here I was served in 3 minutes flat.  A lovely meal of toast and peppered mackerel pate with a salad and chutney.

I made short shift of this delicious meal and then wanted to go for one of the walks, but as they take at least 30-40 minutes I could forget about those.  Instead I did another round of the village and made my way to the train station as I didn't want to miss the last train home.

This tromp l'oeil at Portmeirion looked so real that I had to feel the wall to find out if it was painted or not.

At the station I had 10 minutes to spare and tried to find a cache nearby, but failed in my attempt.

A poster at the railway station

Next are some more views from the train back to Blaenau Ffestiniog and the different carriage I occupied this time.  Being very thirsty from the walking I ordered a ginger beer.  This was an organic one with extra ginger for a fiery aftertaste.  Boy, did I like that!!!  The Ginger Factory at Buderim could learn from this company. :-)

My seating on the way back

The best ginger beer ever!

I enjoyed this train ride tremendously, almost as much as the trip by car.  Steam trains are extra special, in particular because they go slowly and you get time to watch and relax.  It reminded me of the train rides at Kuranda (near Cairns) and at Strahan (Tasmania).  Both were just as enjoyable, but the best thing about this one was that it was a return trip.

Anyway, I was home too late to go for the afternoon walk, so had a quiet night at home.

On Friday I didn't do much besides chauffeuring Chris to get his car fixed and updating my pictures and blog.  I joined Chris and Dylan on their afternoon walk again, where we met four Spanish teachers who asked us the way to Llandudno or how to get there by bus.  As Chris had a loan car which was bigger than his own he offered the girls a lift, so all six of us crammed in the vehicle with Dylan in the boot on the ride to their hotel.

At home waited us a nice meal, as usual, from our excellent cook Sal.  For entree we had toast with fried mushroom, a huge (edible!) mushroom that Chris had found in the woods the day before: