Monday, August 11, 2014

Wales - Cymru, y lle gorau ar y ddaear!

Although part of the United Kingdom, Wales is certainly not a part of England. Don't make the mistake that it's just another county of the British Empire. Wales is Wales, with its own language, its own history and its own customs. And, they are proud of it too. Cymru, y lle gorau ar y ddaear!

Wales is one of those places that you either love or hate. Hating it is mostly a result of the weather, which has given wales the nickname 'The Pissy Valley'. But then again Britain itself is already an anagram for Bit Rain. There is no mistaking when you've actually entered Wales; as soon as you have crossed the 'border' all the signs are in two languages, of which the top one is unpronounceable. We couldn't have missed the entry anyway as it started pissing down as soon as we did. As if the Welsh Gods made us sit an entry exam to verify if we were allowed in.

A Welshman told us they had very little rain over the past months… but what does a Welshman call a little rain? The grass was greener than anywhere else in the world and grass is only green when it's wet. The local fish and chips sold hamburgers for 2 pounds and as rain was coming down by the bucketload we decided to give it a try. We didn't expect much for a burger that's 4x cheaper than McDonalds, but we were wrong. We ended up with 3 huge burgers that tasted really good. Jeanette had also ordered small fries, as she had assumed small burgers. Just one small fries would have fed us all three… we had three small fries. No matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't eat it all.

We waited for a while but the rain just kept coming down. Raining cats and dogs they call it, must be big cats and dogs and lots of them too. Checking the GPS, we found a camping just up the road and packed up and went for it. We pitched the tents in the rain, which wasn't a problem as our Rukka gear and Alt-Berg boots are waterproof, but when the clouds suddenly gave way to a clear sky… just after we had pitched the tents… we couldn't help but laugh. Maybe we had passed the Welsh RainGod test or something as it was the last rain we had in Wales. We had the whole campground to ourselves as well until late in the evening a small car turned up. A tent and the female co-pilot were thrown out, after which the car left. We assumed to get food or something. She subsequently spend 4 hours pitching a family tent… which had gone through 4 different versions by then. I personally liked the one where it looked like a tunnel tent with the lowest section in the middle, but the big donut shape with a little outhouse attached to it wasn't bad either :-)

The things we do to take a photo...
The next day we rode through Snowdonia. Without snow it's not as magical as on the postcards (to the younger generation: postcards are the predecessor of Facebook), but I prefer reasonably warm weather when I'm on a bike anyway. Quite a few castles dotted the landscape and as the weather had improved so much we changed our plan and went not only through the Snowdonia NP via two different routes, but headed for Brecon Beacon as well. Who knows, Exmoor might even be an option as well? A good choice as we had a beautiful route and little traffic.