Wales: Where its about the Journey, not the Destination

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Share on LinkedIn

With a week to explore some of Wales, I decided to go off the usual tourist route to the North and explore the South of Wales, with a focus on small towns, seaside villages, and of course castles (you can’t come to Wales and not call by a castle a day, it’s entirely not possible!)

I decided not to build any expectations and keep my prior research to a bare minimum, with nothing but a list of recommended stops along the way as I criss-crossed through valleys, national parks, coastal routes and always winding up and down narrow roads that I was sometimes almost sure would swallow me whole they were so slim!

On the first day my pre-planned navigation system on my phone (aka Google Maps) was set to take me just across the border from England to Tintern Abbey (picture below), and from there I planned to tap into some wifi to type in the next destination and be on my merry way. Just one problem: wifi isn’t quite as openly accessible in Wales and I would have to instead rely on the directions given to me by the groundsman of the Abbey, who merely offered “keep driving ’til ye reach a set o’ lights, go left, keep driving, ye’ll see a castle and then ye’ll turn around on ye’self and ye’ll be there”.

Okay, I thought to myself. I can do this. And whats the worst that could happen? I’d wind up lost in a country where English is the predominant language and everyone seems nice enough, that I’d just stop again and ask for more directions. “I’ve got this” I told myself. Its about the journey, in the end.


I arrived at a road diversion some moments later, a mere ten minutes after I had left the Abbey in the direction the man had pointed. IΒ quicklyΒ suppressed any feelings of feeling overwhelmed or concerned where I might end up, and carried on in the direction he had described nonetheless.

Alas, I made it to the castle. Which also had no wifi. Which also meant more hand written directions led predominantly by finger pointing and a reassuring smile from the two ladies at the welcome desk who convinced me I would find my way one way or another.

Nearly an hour and many wrong turns later, I found myself at the small town of Abergavenny. It was here where I finally found my first wifi connection for the day at a small cafe that sold a variety of cakes in only the largest and most generous slices I had ever seen, and thankfully servedΒ real coffee, and by real I mean it was by Melbourne standards, a good coffee.

Dobby Beach Wales

After sitting for an hour getting to know the owner and his subsequent offerings for “coffee on the house”, I realised this was perhaps what Wales would come to be to me. It wouldn’t be about ticking sights and attractions off a list, but about the journey itself. It would be about the friendly faces who saw theΒ genuine confusion in my face when I gazed at my handful of coins wondering which one was which, about the people who willingly offered a hand-drawn map on the back of a napkin to point me in the right direction, and about the people who welcomed me into their castle hotel like I was of royal significance myself.

Wales would not be about the journey, not the destination itself.

Dobby Beach Wales

For the rest of my week in Wales I made a conscious effort to disconnect in order to connect. Despite having wi-fi here and there at most hotels and sometimes during the day when I stopped for coffee, I made it my mission to only use it to talk to my loved ones back home, and not to aid in my adventure in any way. I relied on maps printed off on a piece of paper or better yet a list of directions in writing I could barely read let alone put to use! I allowed myself to get lost almost every time I tried to venture somewhere and I promised myself to get out of the car every time I saw something of interest and never leave thinking “I wish I had the time to stop”, because as far as I was concerned, I had all the time in the world. Well, all the time in a week, anyway!

South of Wales

Final note: Growing-old-together-goals.

You Might Also Like

  • The 15 Best Places I Went in 2015 | WORLD OF WANDERLUSTWORLD OF WANDERLUST
    December 18, 2015 at 6:56 am

    […] I arrived in Wales, many of my English friends were quick to inform me of how “boring” Wales was and how I […]

    November 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I am looking forward to visiting Wales within the next year or so… it’s definitely on my MUST DO list. I’m glad that you were able to embrace being ‘disconnected’. That may just be the best reason to go!

    October 21, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    We travelled down to Wales recently to stay in a treehouse (best place ever!) on the edge of Snowdonia. There was no wifi, no electricity and every morning we woke up to this beautiful, peaceful view through the trees. It was so relaxing. The trip also reminded me how beautiful Wales is as a country – I spent most of my time exclaiming ‘look at that view!’ each time we went around a bend and another gorgeous vista opened up. Although it’s only a few hours from home, it really was like taking a step out of modern life into something simpler, which we definitely needed!

    Miles of Happiness - Marie
    October 20, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    It has this nostalgic feeling, I love it…

    October 19, 2015 at 2:25 am

    I love how you went about your trip! It’s so lovely to spend some time away from the internet πŸ™‚ When I lived in England it was all about hand written directions because at that time hardly anybody had access to the internet via phone. And I always found what I was looking for πŸ™‚

    October 19, 2015 at 2:13 am

    cute last photo :]

    Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life)
    October 19, 2015 at 12:08 am

    This sounds like the perfect road trip! How often do we consciously say we’re going to disconnect (and aren’t forced to do so)? I feel that people are generally friendly and that’s so awesome to see and experience that first hand. Wales seems like a beautiful country and I hope we are able to make a journey like you described one day!

    October 18, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    After loving your Wales vlog it’s so great to see more photos from your trip to Wales. I visited back in 2009 and absolutely loved it.

    Teri May
    October 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I’m so glad you enjoyed visiting my country, I may be biased but I think we have some of the kindest, friendliest people in the world here (and I have travelled and met a lot of people!). It really warms my heart to hear other people who think this too πŸ™‚

    Teri-May xx