It was a fairly last minute decision to book a trip to Wales. Rory was home for the summer, his girlfriend was happy to come with us but we didn’t know where to go (call myself a travel blogger?!)
After some circuitous internet surfing, we plumped for North Wales and an apartment in Doc Fictoria (Victoria Dock) in Caernarfon. It proved to be the perfect location with views over the Menai Strait to Anglesey and so many attractions within about half an hour’s drive.
Just crossing the border from England to Wales felt very much like arriving in a foreign country and it wasn’t just that the road signs were in Welsh and English. The A55 from Chester along the North Wales coast is an excellent road: tunnels cut straight through the mountains and the views across Colywn Bay and Conwy Bay are magnificent.
Caernarfon itself is a beautiful royal town in the county of Gwynedd. A world heritage site, it has the most picturesque castle and, within the walls, a surprisingly good selection of independent shops and restaurants situated in pretty streets.
We ate in town on three of our five nights – it was so easy, no need to take a car, just amble along the marina for five minutes and take your pick. I can thoroughly recommend our choices of Chinese, Tuscan and Greek fare plus a delicious Dutch breakfast.
Fu’s Restaurant, Doc Fictoria, Caernarfon
A bright, contemporary Cantonese restaurant in Doc Fictoria. The food was tasty, service friendly and efficient. Loved the décor, with huge terracotta army figures, including a headless one which didn’t quite make the journey west intact.
Osteria, 26 Hole in the Wall Street, Caernarfon
We adored this tiny Tuscan restaurant on two floors within the heart of the old town. An unusual menu: sharing platters of bruschette, cured meats, cheese and delicious fried coccoli bread could be chosen either as a starter or a main. This was followed by a choice of three or four hot dishes which change daily (pasta and a fabulous meatloaf when we visited) . The food was superb; so authentic and fresh. We chose to share three of the four puds between us – soft milky panna cotta; hot, pillowy chocolate fondant and a melt-in-the-mouth pear tart.
Ouzo & Olive, 14 Hole in the Wall Street, Caernarfon
Another great find on Hole in the Wall Street. A meze/tapas type menu, we opted for bread, one cold meze and then surprised the waitress by ordering the complete hot meze menu, bar three dishes. She laughed and wondered whether we would manage to eat it all. We did. Washed down with a very drinkable house red served in a rustic metal carafe, this was a fantastic evening and excellent value for money.
Scoops, 8 Palace Street, Caernarfon
Suggested by a fellow blogger, Liz, a font of all knowledge when it comes to Wales, we had to try this little café selling artisan ice cream and homemade traditional Dutch pancakes. Sitting outside, watching the other shopkeepers nearby set up for the day, I breakfasted on a pancake with bacon, pine nuts, honey and goats cheese while Dougie tried one with apple, bacon and mushrooms. Utterly delicious, as was the coffee. We had a look inside and it was so pretty, with bright crocheted blankets draped over the chairs and a beautiful outdoor sitting area at the back. This was the perfect start to the day.
We used Caernarfon as a base for our trip but there were times I just wanted to spend time just mooching around this lovely town. As the Welsh football team were still in with a chance in the Euros, there was a real buzz with Welsh flags proudly displayed along with the usual bunting draped across the streets: it was certainly a fantastic time to be staying in Wales.