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: