Welsh Diaries Day 2 – Portmeirion and the Welsh Countryside

The second day of our Welsh adventure exploring the beautiful village of Portmeirion and Snowdonia National Park.

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After a long break it is finally time to dust off the first volumes of my Welsh Diaries and continue with the story of our amazing adventure in the Welsh wilderness and the beautiful village of Portmeirion.

After a busy first day of wind, rain and excitement, the following morning was a much more relaxed affair; much to my fiancée’s delight as it was her birthday after all. On our adventures we are usually up before the first crow of the cockerel and quickly chasing the sunrise over the horizon to our first destination… making the most out of every second. When you have a limited time away from home, in a new and exciting place, I never want to miss a thing and wasting hours on a silly thing like sleep.

With breakfast starting at 8 we had no choice but to stay all nice and warm in our beds and try to enjoy this enforced relaxation. It’s a really hard life but someone has to do it, right? So at 5 minutes past, because we wanted to give them a second before we descended on them like hungry vultures, we realised we definitely the exception rather than the rule. It was a complete ghost town. Not a person in sight.

Which made the morning even more enjoyable for us, complete peace and quiet to enjoy our full “Welsh” breakfast. I’m not really sure what made it specifically Welsh, other than maybe the local produce that was sitting on the plate, but it was delicious all the same. With a long day of driving and sightseeing ahead it is always important to have a good breakfast… it is the most important meal of the day after all.

Stepping over the threshold we were surprised to be greeted by a light breeze and clear blue skies. After the torrential downpours the day before this was a welcome relief but we still filled the boot with all our waterproofs for good measure. As my Grandad always said “ Better to have it and not need it, than not have it and wish you brought it”. A very wise man and sound advice when you have been stuck in cold wet clothes while in the car for hours before. Not the most enjoyable experience let me tell you.

First stop of the day was Portmeirion village on the Welsh coast which we found by following a very scenic and picturesque route through the mountains. Peaceful and breathtaking. Especially when we found a small slip road to stop and take some pictures. It was like being back in Iceland with all the unspoiled scenery, mountains and long open road, completely deserted except for the farmer in his tractor that stopped ahead of us to eat his sandwich. Looking around at all the amazing countryside around me, I couldn’t believe that I had never been there before when it is only a few hours from home. Crazy really!

Portmeirion really surprised me. I’m not really sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t what I saw. Instead of a small country village on the coast I found myself on a long driveway, ending in a car park like some sort of tourist attraction. After exchanging looks of confusion and hesitation, we decided to continue on and see what it had in store for us.

Luckily, by the entrance was a large sign that cleared up all the confusion. Portmeirion is a small holiday village that was created by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1976. He wanted to show off the natural beauty of the location without spoiling it and I have to say that he did a fantastic job.

Pounding the pavement on our way through the little village it was hard not to be impressed by the eclectic mixture of different architectural styles that clearly took their inspiration from all over the globe. The last thing I was expecting to see on the welsh coast was a large sculpture of Jesus hanging off the side of a building that felt like it wouldn’t be out of place in a traditional Spanish neighbourhood. I also really liked the subtle addition of a gigantic chess set in the centre of the village.Just a shame it was roped off so I couldn’t go and play.. Although I would probably just be disappointed that I couldn’t ride the knight like in a game of giant wizard’s chess.

On the little map we picked up at the ticket kiosk (because what village is complete without a ticket kiosk right?) there were two different routes that took you to the lighthouse on the edge of the estuary. After a short climb to the top of the hill, where the trails begin, there was a small gazebo that was perfectly placed to see the amazing view of the whole village and the beautiful scenery beyond. It was just a shame that the tide was out as having the estuary full with glistening blue water would have been amazing. The weather was just so beautiful, I couldn’t quite believe it after the storms we got caught in the night before. Sunshine, nature and good company; I think that is a pretty good birthday in my books… don’t you?

Walking around the crest of the hill we were greeted by the tiny lighthouse that marked the outermost point of the village. Like everything else in the village it was a little unexpected. Instead of a full size lighthouse that is used to keep the ships off the rocks it was a tiny ornamental lighthouse that I could barely fit inside. It was very pretty but not sure it can be called a lighthouse without some sort of light… better call the word police!

Life is always a little bit serious for my liking, so when we have the opportunity for some unrestrained silliness I am ready to jump in. Finding a small path that led down to the beach seemed like the perfect change to have a little fun. With the gopro propped on a rock we took some very sophisticated pictures of ourselves with the sunshine and blue skies in the background. So much fun and makes a pretty got shot if I do say so myself.

As we meandered back into the village, with all the jumping and posing complete, it was time to stop for a little light refreshment before we moved on. We still had plenty of daylight and had enough time to fit in another stop before we broke for lunch. It almost sounds like a military operation when I describe it like that…. And I guess it kind of it.

Ever since we went to Iceland I always count holiday adventure time in number of hours. When you only have 8 hours to try and fit everything in you always make sure to know when sunrise and sunset it. That’s how you get the most out of every second. So, after pouring over the map, while enjoying a nice cold drink, we decided to head over to Harlech castle. A castle on the coast with a restaurant attached… almost like I planned it that way right?

Stay tuned for the next chapter where we will head to Harlech, explore the picturesque scenery in the mountains and party the night away. Until next time…

Ciao for now.

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