The South of Wales

Many things happened in these few days, we couchsurfed for the first time, made new friends and forgot some of our equipment along the way.

We woke up in the hostel in Bristol and decided to explore the city in a flash.

Afterwards we got back to take our stuff and tried to catch a ride to Wales. I found a smartphone application for good hitchhiking spots which was very useful. When we got to the tank station we saw two girls hitchhiking as well, luckily in the other direction. After ten minutes a BMW with two really tough looking guys pulled over, they were willing to take us halfway. D and Scott were superb! They told a lot of jokes about the English and taught us a few words in Welsh. Boreda = good morning and Dioch = thanks (last letters sound like the noise you make when you have a big spit to get out.) We learned some others but I can’t remember them.

They also told us about a Welsh habit: when you cross the Bridge from Bristol to Wales, the Welsh open up all the car windows to let the ‘bad’ English air out and the healthy Welsh air in. And so we did. We couldn’t have imagined a better start. They dropped us off at a service station on the motor way. Soon we got another ride from Josh. He recently started to work and was driving back home from a visit to his girlfriend who lives in London. He brought us all the way to our destination: The Mumbles (near Swansea), and told us to get an ice cream at Joe’s.

In the Mumbles we had fixed our first couchsurfing. When we arrived, our host, VJ, seemed pretty busy. She invited us in, gave us some towels (cause wet towels in your backpack are the worst, right) and showed us to our room. We got lucky, because there were two beds instead of couches. As V had to pick up her son, we went into town to get that ice cream Josh told us about and had a walk along the shoreline.

We ate in the pub, The White Rose, where we took the burger deal: £6 for a burger and a pint of cider. We really recommend pub food over here. The meals are simple, but taste great. We played some Zombie Dice and wanted to watch the EK game (France – Germany), when the weekly pub quiz started. That was kind of loud and we decided to trade the Welsh pub for the Irish one to watch the game properly.

Afterwards we went home and had a good chat with our host.

In the morning we left early for Pembroke. Again we were very lucky, because Rhys picked us up and made us a deal: “If you guys help me out, I’ll give you a ride all the way to Pembroke.” Of course we accepted the deal. We helped him out with some work in the garden of his house in Swansea. Recently he and his family moved to St Florence (near Pembroke) and now they were trying to sell their old house in Swansea. It only took us an hour. He was very happy, because now he would be able to get home early and see his kids. He gave us a little site seeing tour in Tenby and Pembroke and dropped us right in front of the apartment of Francesco, our host for the night. Everything went so smoothly we were a little early and had to kill the time in the park, playing Zombie Dice again. It was sunny, so we enjoyed the free time.

Francesco appeared to be a very nice guy. We got a room with a huge king size sofa. Excellent! We changed clothes quickly and drove to Tenby to go watch a swimming contest in the sea. There we also met some of Francesco’s friends, Steph, Matt and Keryn, and went to the best chippie in town (thanks Guy for teaching us this word!). It was a really nice evening.

While eating our chips we realized we had forgotten our super sophisticated hitchhiking cardboard in Rhys’s car. With three cars we tried to find the farm where Rhys lives, but we failed. We gave up and drove to the pub in Pembroke. It took Steph and Matt quite a while to get there and as they arrived, they were waving with our cardboard! What an amazing people! They had rung some doors, asking for a piece of paper! Lovely! It made us feel really good about humanity. 🙂

We played some pool and called it a night. At Francesco’s we got some nice tea and went to bed. The next morning, we slept till noon. Francesco cooked us some nice lunch: eggs with mushrooms and ham and cheese and celery and pepper, no salt. We decided to stay for another day and checked out the Carnival, but that was a bit of a disappointment. Although we must admit John Snow was pretty impressive. 😉 Instead we went to the beach for a walk with Steph and Matt. We had some fun in the dunes and then drove to the Green Bridge, which you can only visit in the weekends, because it is situated in a military domain.

It was just wonderful and reminded us a little of Iceland.

When we got back in Pembroke, Francesco cooked us a nice Italian meal: tortellini with pesto and a lot of very tasty olive oil. Afterwards we did some guitar playing and singing during three hours. (My fingers are still hurting.) Especially our Spice Girl imitation was really good.

Then we changed into some of Franky’s clothes – ours were drying after a good wash- and went to the pub to play some pool again and afterwards to the local dance club.

The next morning, we left after a nice Nutella breakfast. There was a marathon going on in Pembroke so it took us a little while to catch a ride. Paul and his dog Gwen picked us up. Paul works with people with learning disabilities so we had some good talks.

When he dropped us, it really started raining cats and dogs. It was horrible and I needed to find a loo urgently. After Jan had convinced me, I asked the people living in the house at the other side of the road if I could use their bathroom.

Against all odds (being very wet) we were picked up by an older couple, Brian and Margareth, who drove us all the way up to a cozy little place called Aberaeron even though they didn’t plan to go so far if it weren’t for us. Again a very nice experience.

Weather was much better here so we sat down in the harbor and had some lunch. We made good progress and were silently hoping to get to Snowdonia on the same day. This hope was strengthened when Greon picked us up after a short while. He promised to drive us all the way to Dolgellau, a lot closer to our destination. He was driving some kind of a small pickup truck, so we had to put our backpacks in the open cargo space in the back. We had a lot of fun chatting with him about Wales, selling and buying things and renovating old chapels. When he dropped us off we were faced with kind of a big problem. It appears we forgot our walking poles in Aberaeron…  This was of course bad because they were not that cheap and there was no way we could go back for them, but also because we need them to put up our tent. And of course we were planning to camp that evening! Greon felt very guilty (no idea why, because it was totally our own fault) and tried to help us driving around the little village and asking around for a camping shop. He found out there was a camping shop, however, closed on a Sunday of course…

Finally we could convince him to continue his way to Manchester, but only after he gave us his favorite candy.

Trying to find a solution for our problem we asked around in the village for a place to stay. The cheapest we found was a B&B with a double room costing £70 for a night. That’s more than a shoestring! So instead we walked a little bit outside of the village and found a camping spot near a river. By the time we got there it was already getting late so we started immediately to make new wooden walking poles to get our tent up.

In the end this worked out very well and we fell asleep with the sound of a waterfall less than 5 meters away and lots of rain on our cozy trailstar.