Sightseeing and “Tea for Two”

Murray's in BarmouthRainy days are something that nobody needs, really! We did have the bad luck to experience plenty of rainy days while we visited Wales in June 2017. The question was: Do we walk into town or use our tandem to explore the tiny city Barmouth? We decided to use the car because of the water floating down the hills and flooding the main roads. After an extensive breakfast with fresh fruits, Muesli, yoghurt, nuts and card playing the clock reached almost 2pm. Time to get something for lunch or tea.

There are a couple of little cafés along High and Church Street but their offers vary a lot. Our first choice was Murray’s Café Bar on High St were we decided to have tea/coffee with some cake. A sign showed that all cakes are homemade and the smell of the fresh bakery as well as the coffee was breathtaking. A quick look on the menu and the counter showed that this was our place of desire: All offerings were very tempting. We chose a Persian Carrot Cake with Cinnamon – nothing we could withstand. The taste was … it’s hard to describe, but we had to have a second one of it. It would look like “stupid tourists who are out off control” therefore we shifted out desire to the upcoming day. Keeping in mind that this place is something to remember – always.

Although it was raining we went onto the beach and walked for a while. The air was clear and the rain washed away all of our thoughts. Absolutely “brain-washed”, we went back to our cottage to dress-up a little bit for our evening dinner at the Ty’r Graig Castle. This is a local hotel with an “open to non residents” restaurant. This place has a lot to tell: Owned by a gunmaker and built on a rock as a holiday home for himself and his wife (Ty’r Graig means house on the rock in Welsh) with a beautiful view of the sea.

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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.

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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

 

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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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