My husband and I were booked to go to France for about 12 days in June, but thanks to Covid, we had to cancel another planned trip. Travelling restrictions on trips abroad proved to be too much of a hassle and we decided to have a shorter trip within the UK, and the rest of the time to be relaxing at home.
So, we booked a last-minute trip to North Wales, based in Llandudno and on the way back a day visit to Liverpool. We had never been to that part of Wales or to Liverpool and we’ve always wanted to go, so that was the perfect opportunity.
The drive to Llandudno from our home in Cambridgeshire took about 4 and a half hours, including a stop for lunch/toilets in one of the service stations on the motorway. The fastest route for us was predominately on motorways (A14, M6, M56) and finally the A55.
Llandudno is a seaside resort in North Wales and its name means “the church of Tudno” in English. Tudno is the patron saint of the town. The resort is very popular with visitors since the 19th century, characterised by the Victorian architecture alongside the promenade of the beautiful and clean beaches.
Besides the nice beaches, the town has the fifth longest pier in Britain and the longest in Wales; it was built in an Indian Gothic style and is Grade II listed. The pier is very busy with all the shops, amusement arcades and people walking up and down. There is a beautiful view from the pier of the promenade, the beaches, and the Happy Valley Gardens where you can catch a cable car to ride to the top of the Great Orme Mountain.
There are other places around Llandudno that are also worth visiting, places such as Conwy, Colwyn Bay, Bodnant Gardens and Caernafon. All within half an hour to 1 hour drive.
We arrived in Llandudno at about 2:00 pm and went straight to our accommodation.
We booked a B & B, “The Pebble House”, via Booking.com for 3 nights. On arrival, Simon (the owner of the B & B) was very welcoming, providing lots of information to help us familiarise with the town and surrounding areas. He even allowed us to get access to our room earlier than the check in time, which was at 3:00 pm.
The room was small, but delightful with an amazing sea view. It was very well decorated and clean, and it looked like it had been refurbished recently. The bed was comfortable, and they provided the room with a coffee machine with various pods in different flavours. We were very pleased with our accommodation.
We parked the car just in front of “The Pebble House”; parking is free in that part of the promenade and as it was a Thursday, there were plenty of spaces. After unloading the car, we went out for a walk.
The Pebble House is located towards the end of the beach, and it is about a 20 minutes’ walk to the pier and the centre of town where the shops and restaurants are.
So, we walked all the way to the pier and down the pier as well, which provided lots of good photo opportunities. We then walked to the Happy Valley Gardens and took the cable car to the top of the Great Orme. Very nice views from the top and from the cable car.
After exploring the town, we stopped for a beer in one of the pubs in the centre of town and walked back to our room. After a bit of a rest and a shower, we were ready to go out again to get something to eat.
As it was a very last-minute trip, we had problems booking restaurants. All the nice ones were fully booked, and it took us a long time to book where to eat each day.
We managed to book a Greek restaurant for the first night — the White Tower restaurant on Lloyd Street.
The food was very good, and the wine was very good quality too. We were pleased with the choice and had a fabulous evening.
After dinner, we walked back to our B & B in time to watch the fantastic sunset.
Breakfast at “The Pebble House” was between 8:00 and 9:00 am and consisted of a variety of items to choose from, including cooked breakfast. We filled a form every evening selecting the time slot and breakfast choice, which helped our hosts with the organisation.
As we weren’t in a hurry for anything, we came down and had our breakfast at 9 am every day, and normally chose a cooked English breakfast. Unlike the greasy affair that can be found around, the breakfast here seemed to be cooked in the oven. A little bit healthier and still very tasty and satisfying!
The plan for today was to drive around Colwyn Bay and then to visit Conwy.
Conwy is a very attractive little town with a Medieval Castle open for visits. Unfortunately, we forgot to book the visit in advance, and couldn’t visit the castle today. Due to Covid restrictions a reduced number of visitors were being allowed in, and tickets were not being sold at the door. However, we managed to book a visit for the next day in the morning.
As we couldn’t get into the castle, we decided to take the opportunity to walk around the fortified wall that surrounds the town, which was built at the same time as Conwy Castle by Edward I.
We started the walk by using the access near the train station (once we found it) and went all the way up to the Conwy Quay where we stopped to visit the Smallest House in Great Britain.
This tiny house, that measures only 72 inches (1.83 m) wide by 122 inches (3.10 m) high, was occupied until 1900 by a local fisherman called Robert Jones, who was 6 foot 3 tall! Since then, the house has become a touristic attraction with thousands of visitors curious to see the interior. Imagine what life was like for Robert Jones in such a tiny space.
After lunch we walked around the town centre admiring the old buildings and the castle from the outside.
We went back to Llandudno as dinner was going to be earlier than usual, because we only managed to book a table at 6:30 pm at The Seahorse Restaurant.
Dinner was very good! I had the Thai Crab fish cakes in a pickled cucumber salad with chilli and lemon dressing as a starter, followed by the Seafood spaghetti. My husband had the garlic mushrooms as a starter and the monkfish as the main. All dishes were delicious and the wine accompanying the dinner was also very good.
On the way back to our B & B we decided to stop and have some drinks somewhere as it was still early to go to bed. We stopped at a hotel called Tynedale on the promenade and facing the beach. They had a marquee in the front with tables and it was open to non-guests as well. We were given a table in there and enjoyed the rest of the evening listening to nice songs, people watching and cocktail sipping.
We both woke up with a hangover and headache, courtesy of the marathon drinking session of the previous night. We had our breakfast and things started to get better by then.
Today we had tickets booked for the Conwy Castle at 10:00 am, so we drove to Conwy again and headed straight to the Castle.
Conwy Castle is a 700-year-old fortress that was built by King Edward I in only four years. Despite spending a fortune to build the castle, Edward only stayed there once. It is very well preserved and contains the most intact medieval royal apartments in Wales.
After visiting the Castle, we went to Plas Mawr. This is an Elizabethan town house built by a wealthy merchant called Robert Wynn in 1576. I love to visit these old houses that tell the history in its rooms and contents. Very interesting and a worth visiting building.
After visiting Plas Mawr we drove to Caernafon, about 40 minutes’ drive. We wanted to visit the Caernafon Castle, but it was closed for refurbishment. We walked around it and around the small town and had lunch at a pub next to the Castle.
After lunch we drove to Bodnant Gardens but could not get in as it was completely booked up (thanks Covid). The drive was nice though and we really enjoyed the area. We drove back to the B & B and had some rest before going out again for dinner.
We could only book dinner at an Italian restaurant called Mama Rosa, everything else in town was fully booked for Saturday evening. Dinner was unremarkable and nothing special, with nothing even worth mentioning. I can cook Italian food at home that is more authentic than what was being served at this supposed “Italian” restaurant…
After dinner we went to the Tynedale Hotel again for drinks, we were on holiday after all! Of course, with the lesson learned from the previous night, we concentrated more on listening to the music and people watching than the drinking.
We had a lovely time in Llandudno and surrounding areas and would go back again without any hesitation, but it was time to pack up and go.
We left The Pebble House after breakfast at about 9:30 am and drove to Liverpool. We arrived in Liverpool at about 11:00 am.
Liverpool is a vibrant city offering so much to do for all kind of visitors. Considered a culture city, it has a fair number of museums (second in the UK after London), arts, music, and attractions to keep you busy.
Until very recently (July 2021) it had a UNESCO Heritage Status, but unfortunately it lost it because of the modern developments going on in the historic docklands, which has the largest group of Grade I listed buildings in Britain. It lost the maritime character according to UNESCO.
In truth, I have noticed it myself, being of a design background, I could not help but noticing the big contrast of the modernist style of The Museum of Liverpool with the other buildings surrounding it. However, I don’t know the history of the site and what was in there before.
You don’t necessarily need to re-build a pastiche just to keep the same style of the area. Modern architecture needs to have space to express itself and everything has its place in my opinion. Being struck off the UNESCO list didn’t make Liverpool any less exciting and interesting, and it deserves more than a weekend to see everything properly.
We had booked the Hotel Ibis in The Albert Dock, as the location was very good and there was a car park on site. Accommodation was OK, but as expected not brilliant. As it was for one night only it served us well for the price charged – cheap and convenient accommodation. As we would not have access to our room until 2:00 pm we just parked the car and went for a walk in the Albert Dock.
This is a regenerated area of Liverpool with the dock’s buildings converted into restaurants, shops, hotels, and museums. I think they did a good job as the area is very uplifting with lots to explore. On the way to the docks, we booked the City & Beatles Tour – Blue Route that would start in about an hour. While waiting for the tour we explored the Docklands until it was time to catch the tour.
As we didn’t have much time in the city, we thought it would be a good idea to take the tour, so we would have a general look around seeing the most important sites, even if we didn’t have time to get in. The Blue Tour will leave from the Albert Docks and will take you through the city centre passing through the Royal Liver Building, St George’s Hall, Liverpool Cathedral, and other places in the central area of Liverpool.
It makes its way to the suburbs to see Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, stopping for photos. We also stopped briefly without leaving the bus in front of John Lennon’s childhood home. This is a National Trust property and visits need to be booked in advance at specific times. The bus cannot go through the road of Paul McCartney’s childhood home as the road is quite small and buses are not allowed.
Our tour guide was called Tony and he was very funny and the whole tour was a real laugh. He was a comedian and cracked lots of jokes on top of making the whole bus sing a Beatles song. Very entertaining!
After the bus tour we walked through the centre and went to the Cavern Club. There are many clubs claiming to be the original club where the Beatles started their career (all with similar names), so pay attention and head to the original Cavern Club.
They told us that the place is the same, but the building was re-built. We go down various levels to get to the basement and there are different areas with musicians playing simultaneously. You can choose where you would like to seat. They all have live music from 11:00 am, and you pay a fee to get in and can listen to some music and have some drinks; it was very nice, and the music was brilliant. The place was busy considering it was the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday. We stayed there for about one and half hours enjoying the music and left for another walk through the city.
We walked to Liverpool Cathedral and stopped at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, a very nice pub with a glamorous decoration. After that we walked a bit more through the centre until it was time to go to our booked restaurant for the evening.
We booked the “Cowshed”, a steak house restaurant located on Seel Street. We had another fabulous dinner with great food and delicious wine. We ordered “The Greed Cow” which is 3 different types of steaks with 2 sides and 2 sauces, and enough for 2 people to share. The meat was cooked to perfection and the service was efficient and helpful. We walked back to our hotel after dinner and finished our visit to Liverpool.
We woke up early and went downstairs for breakfast, that was a separate charge from what we had already paid for the room. It was only £8 per person, but the food was disappointing (as expected) – not much choice and what was available was not freshly cooked. But it was OK to start the day and get us back on the road for our journey back home. We left Liverpool at about 9:30 am and arrived home at 1:00 pm.
This was a very pleasant break, and we will certainly recommend and will be back soon to spend more time in Liverpool. We will, of course, choose better accommodation.
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