What to do in Gwynedd

Gwynedd is a local government area and the name is used for most of North Wales (Cymru). It’s covering the two local government areas of Gwynedd and the Isle of Anglesey.

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“What to do in Gwynedd when it’s raining and windy?” This question approached when we opened the windows on the next day: The weather changed dramatically from sunshine to rainy conditions with strong winds blowing.

On top of this bad message my wife woke up with a cold: coughing and sneezing all times! Our friends from Sussex told us in an email: “The Welsh weather can be challenging and  you need a good sense of humour to holiday there – but to look on the bright side – home will have never have seemed so comfortable before!” There is no one to blame for and we made the best out of it. Reading, card games, memory, etc. were filling the hours. And we relaxed by sitting in the cottage’s conservatory, looking at the raindrops running down the windows, listening to the wind, and enjoying a cup of black Assam tea and time off from work.

A couple of hours later – and you won’t believe it: The sky broke open and the sun came out to warm the ground a little bit. Therefore I decided to go on a little bike ride through Barmouth and the estuary. The hill our cottage was standing on was very steep: roughly 18% downward gradient! Going down I had to be careful and use the hydraulic brakes well-adjusted. I wasn’t feeling comfortable by doing so, but I made it safely to the beach road. From there I started my 20 km ride under the partly cloudy through the Barmouth area.

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Again, our eButterfly tandem started to be my best friend again. It was running smoothly over the soft ground as well as over cobblestone roads. The battery gave me enough support to even climb hills with up to 8% gradient. You actually don’t look very sexy with your helmet and your signalling jacket on, but it is the only way to protect you slightly. My way took me over Barmouth Bridge to the Estuary and alongside it almost to Dolgellau. Have way to Dolgellau I decided to turn and ride back because of the fact that my wife was alone at the cottage and waiting for my.

bike rider

The beachfront of Barmouth was leading me back to Llanaber where I did have to climb up to from the beach to the main road. And it was steep – you won’t believe. I had to cross a railroad track where a sign indicated, that cyclist do have to dismount. And that wasn’t only for the trains! Half way I had to get off the tandem and walk because the 250W front wheel motor did not provide enough support to make it to the top. Although it was only me on the bike this little hill showed where the limitations of our new e-tandem are. The next challenge was the hill up to our cottage which was even steeper: I collapsed after 25m of reached altitude, climbed off the bike and pushed it up the hill to our terrace. I felt like I am going to die.

After my recovery I started preparing our dinner in the tiny kitchen with a limited amount of cutlery, pots, cups, and dishes. The cottage renting agency told us that one cup as well as one dish p.P. is enough – and this is it in general (“… when you do need more, you have to bring it with you or buy something new …). As you can see I can’t recommend this place – when you bring your own household like towels, cutlery, dishes, etc. with you then it might be acceptable. You will see – there is more to come …

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Cottage in Llanaber

 

Llanaber
Seaview from the the parking area at Cedar Rest

Day 2 of our journey to Cymru startet with the last road segment of nearly 500 km! It took us almost seven hours to drive from Ashford to Llanaber, where we rented a cottage for two weeks. On our way north we crossed the Thames River through the Dartford Tunnel where you have to pay a toll. But there is no booth. Roadsigns indicate that you should pay your fee by midnight of the following day though Dart Charge on the Internet. That sounded quite convenient because the last time we took this tollway, we got fined after returning to Germany. (I replied to this fine immediately and paid the necessary fare and they didn’t charge me the additional “punishment fee” for this fraud.) After arriving at our cottage, I forgot about our charges. But two days later got somehow reminded – already two days delayed. I jumped on the Internet and found it easy to pay my toll dues for a return ticket. That took the sweat off my forehead and made me feel comfortable again.

Dart Charge payment receipt

On arrival at our cottage in bright sunshine but temperatures around 19 °C we found the place up in the hills charming. From the terrace you were overlooking the Irish Sea. We started unloading our car and I reassembled our foldable e-tandem which we had placed into the passengers compartment. I loved this way of transportation because I had not to lift the tandem on top of our car where a bike roof rack is in general mounted. How convenient to be able to use the eButterfly again after fitting a few things again.

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The cottage smelled a little mouldy so we opened up all windows and doors to ventilate the it a little bit. Climbing up to the master bedroom I realised that the bed size did not match my expectations. The bed was too tiny for a 6’3″ person because it was only 6’3″ in length. And the width was 135 cm! What a nightmare for me. I immediately contacted the agency and they replied, that I should have done some research before I signed the contract with them because a British standard double bed is of this size.

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Sorry to say this, but this is unacceptable: They have to point at this fact on their Internet ad. International guests won’t do any research for bed sizes when renting a hotel room or cottage – would you? The Welcome Cottage support team was not very helpful. They denied any compensation for this issue as well for other upcoming complaints from our side regarding the cleanliness and fittings of the cottage. You can read about it when you click this link. Anyway we started cleaning up the oven before we could preparing any meal, we tried to arrange our toiletries although shelfs and racks we missing, etc. We felt like being trapped – but the spectacular view calmed us down again. We finally made us feel somehow comfortable.

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A visit to Barmouth in Cymru – North Wales

Barmouth, Wales

“What part of the UK is unknown to us?” This question came up a year ago and we grabbed our atlas and reached out for – North Wales. Especially the region around Barmouth and the Snowdonia National Park looked interesting to us. We deeply investigated into it and decided to plan a two week vacation in Llanaber.

But before we can go we need accommodation, our ferry or EuroTunnel ticket, hotel reservations on our way to the UK and backwards, etc. I really can’t recommend any hotel or cottage vacation platform. I experienced several difficulties on different websites. I do prefer to use a single platform which I am using now for years without any problems, but they got bought by another big company most recently, and I don’t know if that is for us customers good or bad?

And, we had to be sure whether or not we will take our tandem with us. During all of our former visits to the UK we always took our bike with us. Because of the fact that Llanaber is at the Snowdonia National Park we had to be sure if the area is hilly with steep and narrow roads, etc. Google Maps is the right system to look closely at it.

We made our mind up, found a nice looking cottage in Llanaber and chose the time we would like to stay there. Early June might be the right period we thought and reached out for proposals ans offers. One offer on the Welcome Cottages website look quite nice and price wise acceptable. The cottage was nice furnished, the room well equipped and everything looked on the pictures nice and comfortable. Our inquiry for a reservation was answered immediately. We had to sign a contract that shifted all not calculable problems and faults to our responsibilities. We thought: “What can go wrong? Illness, accident, or any other big problem?” Therefore we booked this cottage with sea-view.

Because of the fact that we would take our tandem with us we had no choice to fly: Therefore we decided to take our car and “drive” through the EuroTunnel by train. We looked into the fares and found out that the later you take the train to cross the channel, the less expensive it gets. Our choice was the 17:50 hour schedule with a stop-over night in Ashford. This cuts down the total distance from Cologne to Llanaber into two segments of 498 km and 486 km. Our hotel choice for Ashford was the Holiday Inn Central.

Not taken into consideration was the fact that on that weekend – we decided to drive up to Wales – the UK school holidays ended. Many returning UK travellers got stranded at the Calais EuroTunnel port because of the fact that the operator of the line had technical difficulties. This caused a five hour delay for us before we could get on the train, although we had a valid ticket for a specific time. Our plan to have dinner with UK friends at the Holiday Inn on that particular evening we had to cancel. Finally, we arrived at 23:30 hours at the hotel in Ashford. Our room was still available because we called the hotel and told them in advance that we will be late.

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