Sometimes the best way to explore a small country is to simply drive the open road and see where the Technobus (aka our affectionately named Spaceships van) takes you! Taking advantage of the Easter long weekend we chose to visit a close neighbour we had never been to – Wales. Given it makes up for roughly just 8% of the United Kingdom, you could reasonably expect to see a lot of this beautiful country in a short space of time. We started off with the road trip essentials: a mini fridge full of car snacks, a vague route in our (Blair’s) mind and a great playlist.
Stop 1: Cardiff
Once we had made it through the initial hard yards of London inner city traffic plus the typical long weekend exodus, we parked up at the County South Park and Ride, which was a short walk to the waterfront at Mermaid Quays. We stopped for a well deserved drink at arguably the best Wetherspoons in the UK, The Mount Stuart. With a gigantic outdooor courtyard and two huge level indoors, this pub set a new standard for what we expect from a Spoons.
A quick train ride into the main Cardiff town centre had our stomachs grumbling, leading to us seeking out some comfort food by way of burgers at GBK followed by a mini self guided bar-crawl around a few of Cardiff’s ‘classier’ establishments. Satisfied with a few well made cocktails at Peppermint Bar, we opted not to join the masses dancing to less than enjoyable EDM tunes in the cheese-bars and retired to Technobus for the night.
After somehow managing a suprisingly comfy sleep in our snug bedspace, we ventured back into town to check out Cardiff Castle. Naturally this couldn’t be done without some fuel to keep us going, so we sniffed out an IBS friendly cafe tucked away from the main streets. Cardiff Castle isn’t hard to find being situated right in the middle of town, plus the gigantic stone walls are a bit of a give away. Unfortunately the interior was closed to visitors the day we went, but we still enjoyed a stroll around the castle perimeter, the spring daffodils adding a much welcomed touch of colour.
Satisfied we’d seen it all, we headed back to Technobus to carry on our journey, but not before stumbling across probably the ultimate in Easter guilty pleasures… a deep fried creme egg.
Stop 2: Tenby
We then drove west towards the colourful seaside town of Tenby. It reminded Grace of a cross between Whistable (in England) and the Cinque Terre (in Italy). One of the first things we discovered in this relatively tiny seaside town of approximately 5,000 residents was a British lolly shop, from which we quickly acquired more car snacks. Despite the cold we were eager to take our shoes off and walk along the sand to Castle Beach. Although the weather was more skewed towards England than Italy, the on and off showers did result in this picture perfect scene.
We sought shelter and refueled at Tenby House Hotel, which is clearly a popular favourite for the locals. A cosy little place with the charm of a seaside pub and old school decor, it made you feel at home. The Tenby town centre is small enough for you to explore on foot, with cute little independent shops to poke your nose into along the way. You are spoiled for choice in relation to restaurants, seafood recommended at any of the places situated around Lower Frog and Church Street. After much deliberation we had a lovely meal The Cove Inn, which sat nicely with our tummies and our wallets!
Stop 3: Manobier Castle
One of the best things about road trips is the random stops you make along the way – it’s the journey not the destination (so they say). Driving further west and continuing our adventure in the Pembrokeshire region, we followed signs to Manorbier Castle. Not exactly a unique thing to find on a road trip around any part of the UK, but for people who have not grown up in a country with a history dating back to the 11th Century they are still a novelty. Definitely worth a quick squiz and a constructive excuse to stretch your legs.
Stop 4: St Davids
Reaching the most Western point of our journey, we arrived in St David’s, Britain’s smallest city. Big enough to have a cathedral but still small enough to explore on foot, we parked up at the Tourist Information office. Getting a bit silly around the Cathedral gardens, Grace took her all time favourite picture of Blair, which she named “Ginge under the Bridge”.
As we walked back up into the town, we found a series of culinary delights along the way. We happened upon Pebble Yard Gallery and espresso bar – a small art gallery with a cafe up the top. Tea and scones were a no brainer, meanwhile Blair indulged in a chocolatey milkshake of death. Following our nose into the local deli, to our surprise we found some gluten free treats including beer and biscuits, with which we added some local Welsh cheese, wild boar pate and cured meats to supply an early supper. Of course we couldn’t bypass Gianni’s ice cream (despite having just eaten) given that even they had some great IBS friendly options.
Stop 5: Poppit Sands Beach
At this point we realised we didn’t actually have a plan of where we were going to stay for our final night. Blair made an executive decision and decided we’d head north-east up towards Cardigan, which conveniently took us past the rather unique archaeological sight of Pente Irfan, the largest and best preserved neolithic dolmen (in case you actually know what that means) in all of Wales.
Given we’d been temporarily blessed with some sunshine (that was rapidly setting in the sky), we abandoned plans to stay in Cardigan town choosing instead to drive out to Poppit Sands beach. It proved to be one of the best choices we made all weekend, the beach providing a great spot to enjoy our beer and snacks picked up earlier in the day.
With the suns rays sparkling off the ocean, we couldn’t help but conclude that Wales more than stacks up alongside the slightly more ‘glamorous’ European holiday destinations. What it lacks in polished urban perfection it more than makes up for in natural beauty, local charm and surprises for keen adventures around every corner.
Let us know if you’ve been on a road trip around Wales or other parts of the UK? What hidden treasures or cool discoveries have you made? Leave a comment below!