Monday, 20 July 2009

Day 7 - Wales - The people...

Heading into Wales, you can’t help notice the road signs that are written in both English and Welsh. There is a strong sense of identity. Turn on the radio, and skip through a few stations until you come to BBC Cymru, the Welsh station...even though you won’t understand a word, you’ll be entranced...it’s a language of fairytales. In fact, it reminds me of the Elves speak in Lord of the Rings.

The people are very friendly. There is the old man who pointed me in the right direction of Worm’s Head. There’s the other old man in the National Trust Car Park at Barafundle Bay who let me park for free, because I had no cash.

There’s the receptionist in the Dragon Hotel in Swansea who let me use their Internet without hesitation, but with a very big smile.

There’s Julian Short at the Worm's Head hotel on Rhossili Bay who seemed most happy to keep the bar open late for his guests, even though he’s had a year of late nights already.

There’s Liz and Duncan who manage the youth hostel at Marloes Sands, who invited me in for a cup of tea and a chat. And then there’s everyone else who I passed while walking along the coast, who smile like the sun’s going to shine forever. And the weather was good...after a few days of rain, the sun came out and saturated all the greens and blues. It is hard not to be extra friendly in a place like this.

And there are fewer tourists. It is now school holidays for six weeks, and while Cornwall was jammed with them already, the Welsh coast is comparatively quiet. It’s a somewhat wilder place, where villages are spread further apart, and are less commercial. The area seems less reliant on the tourist trade. Of course there are tourists, but they seem to be the independent travellers, not the tour bus kind or the city crowd. There are a lot of “walkers”, who simply enjoy walking. And it’s easier to bump into the locals at the pubs and restaurants.

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