Two Weeks in Wales {Colwyn Bay and the north coast}

// Friday, July 13th 2018 //

After four jam packed days in London and a total fucking baller first class train ride -- we arrived in Wales. Our train pulled in at 9pm right along the coast as the sun was setting, so it was a lovely welcome. The first impression of Colwyn Bay was great. From the station you're looking at the ocean and then the opposite direction you're looking right up the high street into the center of town which is super darling. 

Colwyn Bay, Wales, England, United Kingdom, Great Britain

We walked straight up and started wandering around looking for the bus stop. But like the creatures of habit that we are -- we were looking for a marked bus stop on a pole sticking out of the sidewalk. But here the bus stops are primarily marked directly on the road. A giant fucking hard to miss bus-sized square that says BUS STOP. Derp. 

Anyway, we found it and hopped on for literally 5 minutes to the top of the hill to Old Colwyn where our cottage was. Getting off the bus was great -- we were on top of a cliff at that point so the view across the bay and the ocean and the sunset was jaw dropping. I couldn't move. I just dropped all my stuff and stood there for half an hour. 

Old Colwyn, Wales, United Kingdom, Great Britain

Then we rounded the corner to our cottage. At a glance it was cute, but we quickly discovered it was shit and that ended up putting a huge damper on our first few days there. I don't even really want to write too much about it because: why? Basically though, it hadn't been properly cleaned in between renters and being a pet friendly cottage that made it even worse. There was lots of back and forth with the cottage rental company, the cottage owner, and a fight for a partial refund. It could've been worse, but it's just shitty to be stuck like that -- to have paid in advance for a cottage and have basically no recourse with no car and nowhere else to go. 

Once we settled in and cleaned the cottage ourselves (SO FUCKING LAME) and covered the couch in blankets (so we could sit on it and not be covered in dog hair) we settled into a rhythm and forgot about it. 

The pros were -- the bed was gigantic and super comfortable. Kris has been having these weird leg spasms (not restless leg, something else) so the large bed helps me feel them less. He kept saying, "I hope I don't kick the shit out of you tonight". One morning we were cuddling and I said, "Did I just drool?" and he said, without missing a beat: probably.

Thankfully our towels and linens were cleaned by a professional company (we later found out) so it made sense that all of that was in order. The kitchen was perfectly functional and the immediate area was quiet and peaceful. 

There was a bus stop right outside the cottage so we bought bus passes and rode that shit every day. Being situated on top of a hill, it was necessary. One day we were leaving to catch the bus and he was in a particularly onry mood saying, "Oh wait. I need the manuka honey chapstick. How far up my ass did you shove that?"

The first Sunday we had a fantastic Sunday lunch for mega cheap at a local pub.

Sunday Lunch | Colwyn Bay, Wales

Afterwards we took a random stroll around the neighborhood just off the main road and stumbled on the most amazing houses. 

Not suprisingly, we had our first (and so far only) shitty day while here in Wales. It just happens. You're traveling, but you're still just living. Life is the same. You have to pay bills and take care of life admin and sometimes you're cranky or constipated or irritated. You know, just real shit. So we had this one day where we were just fucking off and at each other. We took an hour+ bus ride to Conwy to tour an old-ass Georgian townhouse and literally did not speak to each other the entire bus ride. Eventually we worked it out, but it was just a funny whack-ass day. 

The townhouse was the fuckin tits though. There was a castle in town (Conwy), but Kris had read on Trip Advisor that people enjoyed the townhouse much more and it was considerably cheaper, so we opted to do it instead. The audio guides, man! I'm all about the audio guides. They really make it. 

After the tour we walked around looking for a cream tea, but everywhere was ass-fuck expensive and stupid. So we started doing that thing where we get hungrier and hungrier but nothing is "it" in terms of atmosphere or food choices adn it's like fuck, okay. C'mon! Keep it together. I ended up taking the reigns and led us back to a butcher where we got hella cheap to-go sandwiches and took them back to the patio area of the townhouse to eat. Salvation. 

On the first really great sunny day we went down to the beach and it was gorgeous. We spent many nights on the beach at sunset either on the sand or walking along the pier. There were shit loads of jellyfish EVERYWHERE. It was insane. It freaked out a lot of the little kids and one girl was yelling, "Mummy!! I want to go in the ocean, but I don't want them in my way!"

We discovered an amazing bakery -- Cadwgyn Bakery. The first day we got a few things in a box and then stood right outside the bakery taste testing everything. This old woman walked by and we made funny eye contact as I was shoving my face and she said, "Nothing like a sneaky bun!!" The people in Wales were just so fucking nice. One day we were in Aldi (the main grocery store) and I was looking for a sewing kit so I asked an employee. She didn't think they had any, but she asked on the radio and then after getting a confirmation of "No", she asked me if I wanted a needle and thread from her purse. Like, just casually. Like that's what you'd do for anyone. 

Another day we took a glorious bus ride into Snowdonia National Park -- right to the center of a town called Betwys-Coed. It was pretty on its own, but I had mapped out a walk deep into the park to a cafe and that walk made it feel like we got past the tourist part and really got into the park. It was a tiring walk though and by the time we got to the cafe it was completely blissful to sit down and eat. I got a welsh rarebit for the first time and it was one of the best dishes I've ever ordered at a restaurant. It was a big slice of homemade sourdough toast topped with a thick slice of roasted ham topped with a thick cheese sauce and then broiled. 

Groceries were really cheap in Wales so we did lots of great cooking at our cottage. Including a fucking delightful chilled pizza. 

Aldi Chilled Pizza Retailer of the Year

The town center was really cute. Lots of little alleys and cute shop fronts. One day we were walking around and Kris said, "Ooooo one a them litle store fronts is could open a little dildo store!" There were several lovely coffee shops in town and we had fun hanging out there. 

One day we were exploring a rocky part of the coast and I was walking down an old boat ramp that had been long out of commission and grown over with vines and algea. I was carefully walking down it claiming it wasn't slippery (which it wasn't), but about two seconds after my declaration, this happened -- a proper ass-plant and slide:

We explored a lot of the coastal towns on the bus -- a favorite was Llandudno -- until we got attacked by a fucking seagull on the boardwalk!! Bwahaha. That was kind of fucked up. Kris was just eating a sandwich and a seagull attacked from behind and snatched a chunk of the sandwich literally out of his actual hand. And they just wouldn't back off. I started kicking at them and swearing loudly and then just got up and started walking away. Lots of people were staring and I'm sure I looked pretty fucking insane if you hadn't actually seen what had just happened. I was carrying my salad and trying to protect it and even though he assured me, "I'm fully prepard to kick a seagull if it comes down to it", we ducked into an alley so I could finish it quickly while Kris kept watch. 

Also in Llandudno, we went to the most beautiful pub of all time. It was warm and cozy with lots of old wood beams and candles and antique-y looking knick knacks. We enjoyed some fancy "small bites" and a nice tea service one afternoon. 

Another day we took the bus to Bangor to walk around Penrhyn Castle. That was pretty epic. It was so well maintained and staged so beautifully. The surrounding grounds were equally as beautiful -- loads of gardens and fountains and the ruins of a chapel and cows and fields and it was so nice. 

And the vines. The fucking vines!

All in all we had a fabulous time in Wales and the beaches were some of the best we'd ever been on -- in Colwyn Bay in particular. Warm water, great weather, lovely people, great food and coffee. Would highly recommend going -- just don't fucking rent that shit fucking cottage or use Sykes Cottages in general :)

After two weeks, on July 27th, we headed back to the train station for the trek to Edinburgh. You guys. Trains in the UK are amazing and so easy to navigate. One hot tip is to get a discount rail card -- we always get the Two Together discount card which just means you get a 1/3 off all rail fares when the same two people travel together. And it's an automatic discount across all rail lines. It couldn't be easier or more user friendly. But there's lots of other ones based on age, group size, etc. It's so worth doing. Another way to make it hella cheaper is to always check split tickets. Meaning two things:

1: If you put in Point A to Point B and you have to switch trains once (or twice or three times) on the way -- always research two separate tickets -- one to the first stop and one to the second stop. This one trick alone has saved us hundreds of dollars. It makes no sense why it would be cheaper but it just fucking is. 

2: Play around with making your own split ticket. For example, there might be a non-stop train from Manchester to London. But there also might be a train from Manchester to XYZ town in the middle, and then XYZ town to London. And by switching trains one time and buying two separate tickets you could literally save a hundred bucks. Worth it to me! I do this by just looking at the route on the map and working out my own logical route. 

Another thing it to always book in advance, no question. Trains are insanely expensive the day of and last-minute in general. And always check the times. It could be $40 cheaper to take the train that leaves 15 minutes later. And always check the first class upgrades. It could be $120 to upgrade to first class on the 4:10pm train, but it could be $12 to upgrade to first class on the 4:15 train. Again this makes no sense and is just a matter of manually checking. The first class upgrade thing usually relates to the stops along the way the train makes so if it's a quicker route, the upgrade will cost more. But that's not always the case. 

ANYWAY. We had a baller time getting to Edinburgh via first class trains and were able to take advantage of the first class lounge in one of the stations on the way. The lounges aren't always spectacular but they are always 100 times better than waiting in the dirty, noisy, chaotic train station if you've got a wait between trains. Plus there's always tea, a clean bathroom, outlets, etc. 

Post on Scotland coming soon :)