6 Easy Reasons to Enjoy Exploring South Wales

with 35 Comments

1. You can be a novice at trains and buses.

In South Wales, you quickly learn that knowing what you’re doing isn’t a prerequisite for having everything work out as it should. The recent adventure Jackie, aka Seester, and I had in Pembrokeshire is proof of that.

We tried to be good tourists and decipher the Arriva trains, the (driven by the best drivers ever given licenses!) buses, the sometimes too expensive taxis, and the multitude of footpaths. We knew from our previous trip that one or a combo of a few could be the best way to reach our destination. For instance, to leave the Brecon Beacons Park, we walked a mile to the bus stop, journeyed two hours through the hills, switched to a train at Swansea for another hour and a half to arrive at the Saundersfoot stop, where we caught a ride in a painter’s van. There’s a story there, but not for this blog.

Trains & Buses are novel for us
Trains & Buses are novel for us

2. You’re sure to laugh with someone new.

What’s more fun than decrypting train schedules, bus passes and dickering with taxi drivers over fares, is knowing there’s one thing to be relied on throughout your journey: the kindness of the Welsh people to laughingly (with you, at you—it’s all the same) help you and set you on the proper course. Time and time again.

Caffi Pura - the owner made great lattes & conversation
Caffi Pura – the owner made great lattes & conversation

3. Exploring Pembrokeshire is a study in unique people.

As Maggie told us when we met over her blooming garden, “As soon as you talk with a Welsh person, they’ll ask how long you’ll be here. It’s not rudeness, it’s to see how much time we’ll have with you.” What a delightful approach to meeting strangers, don’t you think? This complements their willingness to befriend the lost and set you on your intended course—or, quite often—offer a new idea that’s better than your plan.

4. The size keeps it manageable.

At around 8,000 square miles, Wales is about the size of the state of Massachusetts. Because Wales has 3,074,067 people compared to our state’s population of 6,547,629, it allows a lot more space between humans.

Goodwick--a whole lot of open space
Goodwick–a whole lot of open space

5. Wales has a notable simplicity.

If you’re one of those crazy Americans who’ve allowed an unhealthy amount of stress to pervade your life, I recommend a leisurely stay in Pembrokeshire. Inland towns from Brecon to Haverford are pretty, but it’s the coastal villages that captivate my wanderlusting heart and had me saying eighteen times a day, “Have I mentioned how much I love Wales?”

As soon as I set foot in one of these quaint communities, from Fishguard to Goodwick to Saundersfoot to Tenby, I think to myself: How soon can I return? How can I stay longer?

These lovely, quiet places along the Coast have a pervasively relaxing approach to life that reminds me of a California beach town where the daily attitude was, “Surf’s up, be happy.” Not a surfer, I didn’t get that so much. This peacefulness, I get. My heart is boundlessly happy when I’m walking the turf of this land.

Lovely Lower Fishguard
Lovely Lower Fishguard

6. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Since first reading about the Path a few years ago, I’ve had a mind to walk the length of it—186 miles. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the trooper to do this in one fell swoop, I must have time to enjoy a glass of wine, savor a bit of chocolate, marvel at the design in my latte. Rather, I’ll continue to conquer bits of the trail anytime one hike at a time.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Summing it all up…

The simplest way to enjoy South Wales is to ready your shoes for walking, whether it be a stroll or a hike, a town path or the coastal trail. Know that your best-laid plans may go awry and decide now not to let it bother you. Kick back, put on your brightest smile and start trekking. The sights will be varied and the people you meet are guaranteed to captivate your soul.

 

Next week: Genuine Conversations with the Fun-Loving Welsh

 

35 Responses

  1. Erica
    | Reply

    I would definitely enjoy a trip like the one you had in south Wales. I love walking (but yes, some chocolate along the way makes it so much better.) My first date with my husband, we walked all over NYC for about 12 hours. We both said we had blisters the next day we walked so much. Of course, much more beautiful walking in South Wales. It looks like such a tranquil place to explore.

  2. Md kalam khan
    | Reply

    How fun! It would appear that you had a brilliant unwinding time. Sounds truly simple to get around there. Great to know when they ask to what extent you will be there it isn’t a welcome to leave .

  3. Doreen Pendgracs
    | Reply

    Great post, Rose. I’ve neve been to Wales, but would certainly be interested in going.

    I love the way you say that the Welsh laugh at and with you in a friendly way. We were laughed at in Paris by the conductors on the train (for getting on the wrong train) but it felt humiliating and frustrating, as they did nothing to help us.

    I think you’re right about the small size working in tandem with the friendliness of the people to make Wales a wonderful destination for visitors.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..visiting the Grenada Chocolate FestivalMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      We never felt humiliated–well, except that first train conductor. He was not a good person. But truly, instead of making you feel like a stupid American for asking whatever question you have, the Welsh just jump in and help you out.

  4. Susan cooper
    | Reply

    Hi Rose, how fun! Looks like you had a wonderful relaxing time. Sounds really easy to get around there. Good to know when they ask how long you will be there it isn’t an invitation to leave . lol
    Susan cooper recently posted..Baked Provolone with Tomatoes, Herbs: #RecipeMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      It’s easy to get around as long as you give into the whims and waves of public transportation. I think a control freak would be better off renting a car!
      Yes–isn’t that fun? How long will you stay vs. get out! ha.
      Rose Mary Griffith recently posted..6 Easy Reasons to Enjoy Exploring South WalesMy Profile

  5. Bola
    | Reply

    Rose Mary. You won’t believe the number of times I’ve put off going to South Wales! Some how something else gets in the way. But I’m really hoping to visit soon and most likely during my Easter break. Love the simplicity of it all.

  6. Jason Butler
    | Reply

    Wales seems like a nice place to visit. It seems very mellow and chill.
    Jason Butler recently posted..10 Gifts For Dad #FathersDayMy Profile

  7. Erica
    | Reply

    Wales looks so peaceful and like just a great place to unwind and find tranquility. You and your sister definitely look like sisters. There is no doubt that you are family.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      “Tranquility” is a great word for it, Erica.
      Seester…when I lived in Red Lodge, MT people thought I was her. We did find this humorous for a couple of reasons: she had long, very curly, black hair. I had long, wavy, red hair. She is married. I was single–boy, did that cause some interesting comments from people when I was on a date! HA!

  8. Marquita Herald
    | Reply

    Wales sounds like just my kinda place! What a wonderful adventure, and I was smiling the whole time I read about your transportation challenges. I recall my first visit to Japan and all my well-meaning peers told me to stay close to the hotel, don’t venture out because I would never find my way around. Five minutes after I checked in, I was out the door exploring. By my third trip to the country, I was venturing out on my own using the trains, buses, and subway and while I did on occasion end up taking the scenic route, never really got lost. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and the lovely images.
    Marquita Herald recently posted..Reflections on Life’s Simple PleasuresMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      You are brave doing all that in Japan! We decided we are braver in Wales than in Italy because of the language. Even though the Italians are great and there’s lots of English spoken.
      Transportation—Pittsburgh is notoriously difficult to get around. Jackie always asks, “How do you know where you’re going?” My answer: I got lost an awful lot of times!
      Glad you enjoyed the pics.

  9. Donna Janke
    | Reply

    This post made me long to go back to Wales. My first visit there last fall was too short. Like Jacquie, I found your pictures de-stressing.
    Donna Janke recently posted..Matanzas Creek Winery Zen-Inspired OasisMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      It’s so worth returning to, Donna. We had intended to got to St Fagan’s, but due to leaving our (scary awful) hotel a night early, we missed it. More reasons to go back!

  10. Joy
    | Reply

    What a great article, Rose Mary! We enjoyed our brief stay in Monmouthshire, and can’t agree more about Wales. I keep hearing these stories about Pembrokeshire, so it’s now on my list for next time! I leave for home on Sunday.wahhhhhhh!

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Thanks, Joy. I’m envious that you’re still trekking around there. Home for just over a week, I’m ready to high tail it back! I love Pembrokeshire!

  11. Phoenicia
    | Reply

    Rose Mary – you certainly saw some sights whilst in the UK!

    Wales is beautiful – your photographs clearly evidence this.
    Phoenicia recently posted..Are you working towards being financially secure?My Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      We did, Phoenicia. It’s so lovely–I’m just sorry that we missed seeing YOU!
      Do you and your family get to Wales?

  12. Ken Dowell
    | Reply

    Sounds like a great place to chill out. Your post suggests a “don’t sweat the little stuff” attitude.
    Ken Dowell recently posted..A Night at the Drive-InMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Just guessing, Ken, but I think the Welsh invented the don’t sweat anything idea!

  13. Jeri
    | Reply

    I’ve always wanted to do a long trail like The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, but have yet to do more than a two-night backcountry hike.
    Jeri recently posted..#CreativeWriting: Yellowstone National Park #NPS100My Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Jeri, it is absolutely worth doing! If you want info, email me and I’ll send you some of the links I’ve found for those hardy enough to do long-haul hikes. I’m a total day-hiker–my camping days got left behind in Montana in the 90s. 🙂

      Seriously, I love my time hiking in Italy and Hawaii, who wouldn’t? But there is something about the Pembrokeshire Path that has captured my heart. Totally.
      Rose Mary Griffith recently posted..6 Easy Reasons to Enjoy Exploring South WalesMy Profile

  14. Sabrina Quairoli
    | Reply

    Wow, this looks like an amazing trip! I have never been to Wales or any of the other places you mentioned. I will have to add it to my wish list. The pictures are beautiful too. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Bethan
    | Reply

    We’ve been keeping an eye on your website to checkout your review of the wonderful west of Wales.

    Looks like you had a fabulous time, the weather wasn’t even too bad!

    Hopefully you’ll make another trip back soon.

    Bethan and Tracy (the tired girls travelling from Miami to home on the ‘wrong’ Paddington train).

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Hi no-longer-tired Bethan and Tracy! Wonderful to hear from you. All throughout our journey we had a bummer thing (not a lot) like the train conductor making me pay for another ticket, immediately followed by something far more delightful–like meeting you two! What a silver lining.

      I’m ready to move to Wales. Jackie says it’s too far for me to go and my husband–oh, yeah, I keep forgetting to tell him that plan!

      I have several more blogs about Wales–feel free to read along and laugh at everything that happened to us!
      Rose Mary Griffith recently posted..6 Easy Reasons to Enjoy Exploring South WalesMy Profile

  16. lenie
    | Reply

    rose, sounds like you had a marvelous time – I’m so glad. I like the way you took the ‘less than planned’ in stride, exactly as I expected of you.
    Your photos are gorgeous and what memories you made.
    But selfishly, glad you’re back to share this with us.
    lenie recently posted..Lavender Sachets: Victorian Air FreshenersMy Profile

  17. Jackie
    | Reply

    Loved this trip. Every. Second. Of. It.

  18. Jacqueline Gum
    | Reply

    What a delightful journey you shared with us! Just looking at those lovely photos de-stressed me:)
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted..A Break For Where’s The JusticeMy Profile

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