Friday, December 26, 2008

The Great (and Hastily Planned) British Roadtrip


Thanks to those lovely people at Easyjet, our Swiss trip came to an end before it even began - at Manchester airport's departure lounge. I cannot deny that I was incredibly worried about the value of the monopoly money Galiya and I earn our keep in (also known as Pound Sterling) in Switzerland, and was fretting and fuming over how much the whole thing would cost.

The previous night, I dreamt that we were going to Zimbabwe, and we were buying Zim $s from Robert Mugabe himself. We handed him our Pound Sterling, and Mugabe said, "Pound Sterling! Ha!!! I'll get you 20 Zim $s for a quid. Now, if on the other hand, you had Euros, you'd get five million Zim $s to a Euro."

But no amount of fretting over the costs could make up for the braindead moron at the Easyjet desk in the departure lounge not allowing Galiya to board the flight. She said, "This is a German visa, and you're flying to Switzerland." No amount of explaining that a German residence permit was valid in Switzerland inspite of it not having the magic 'Schengen' word on it would budge her, and because she was a complete moron, she refused to call Swiss immigration.

Hence, it was a very despondent couple that ended up on the train to Wirral to pick up our car from Jon's house, where we'd stowed it away. As we walked through the gates, neither of us had particularly pleasant thoughts running through our minds (or rather, Galiya's mind, and what passes for a mind in my case). But then, an incredible act of kindness on the part of Jon's mum changed it all!

She invited us to Christmas lunch - an offer we could not possibly refuse. It was far better than moping about at home ranting loudly about how unfair life was.

And better still, Jon and his family helped us plan what promises to be an incredible trip through Cymru (that's Wales for the anglophiles among you, you imperialist pigs!). The trip also promises to be far cheaper, as Wales uses the same play money we earn our little all in. And this trip is what this blogpost is all about:

And now, I can talk all about our planned trip to Wales, after all of the circumlocution that is my hallmark.

The primary actors in this trip are:

a) Siddhu Warrier: Intellectual prostitute extraordinaire, who pretends to be a writer.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Intellectual prostitute - and bore - from India"]Intellectual prostitute - and bore - from India[/caption]

b) Galiia Khasanova: Russian dyevushka unfortunate enough to be betrothed to yon Warrier.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A Russian Dyevushka who is kind to Indians who whistle incessantly while blogging."]A Russian Dyevushka who is kind to Indians who whistle incessantly while blogging.[/caption]

c) Vladimir Illyich Micranov: Japanese Samurai with socialist leanings, as evidenced by the duct tape on the roof.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Vladimir Illyich Micranov - soldier of the socialist revolution"]Vladimir Illyich Micranov - soldier of the socialist revolution[/caption]

d) Cymru/Wales: A beautiful little principality to the east of England.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cymru - Welsh for "This is not England, you bleeding idiot!""]Cymru - Welsh for "This is not England, goddamn you bleeding foreigners!"[/caption]

The trip is spread over four days, and each day's itinerary follows. Forgive me if this is boring, but consider this my initiation into the world of travel writing. Since I do seem to do so much of it, it doth make sense I try to write about it.

The routes we plan to take during this trip remind me of an old chestnut by G.K. Chesterton - Paradise by way of Kensal Green,
because I think it is the circuituousness of this route (and of the
roads therein) that make this whole trip so quintessentially British.
To misquote (horribly, historically inaccurately, and out of context) from the poem,

the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,

rolling Welsh drunkard made the rolling Welsh road.

reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the Sir,

night we went to Aberytswyth by way of Betws-y-Coed

night we went to
Llanelli by way of Hwlffordd.

The night we went to Caerdydd by way of Aberhonddu.

Day 1: Liverpool to Aberystwyth by way of Betws-y-Coed

This is where we shall pass through during our first day (Please click on View Larger Map to see the actual route):

View Larger Map

This night, we are staying at a guest house called the Shoreline guest house in a Victorian seaside town (now a university town) called Aberystwyth - it's hard enough to spell, so don't ask me exactly how it's pronounced. WLe couldn't find any pictures online, but the reviews on tripadvisor were good enough to convince us to take the risk. Also, the price, at £50 for the night, is pretty damn cheap (that'll probably be worth about €1.50 in a couple of weeks, so please come over, spend money in the UK, and help Gordon Brown save the world, oh ye continental Europeans).

Day 2: Aberystwyth to Llanelli by way of Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire)

This is the route we shall be taking on Day 2:

View Larger Map

Llanelli (pronounced - I think - something like Crhlanelli) was picked merely because of the sheer quaintness of this little B&B (Bed and Breakfast) we found there, called Beudy Bach (pronounced something like Baidy Bach). It's not terribly expensive at £60, but not too cheap either. But then, we're on our Gord-given mission to save the British economy, aren't we?!

The route to Llanelli was chosen because it goes through a national park that was strongly recommended by Jon's parents. Pembrokeshire was also the site of some WW2 era prisoner-of-war camps. I can't remember where I read it, but some of the Italian POWs integrated so well into Wales during their time there that they decided not to go back upon the cessation of hostilities.

Day 3: Llanelli to Caerdydd by way of Aberhonddu:

The route we plan to take on this day is:

View Larger Map

In the Brecon national park is present a mountain range called the Brecon Beacons. They are named thus because of the beacons the Welsh lit when the English came-a-invading. To paraphrase a Welsh person, the difference between the English invasions of Scotland and Wales was that the highlanders fought the English punch-drunk on whisky, while the Welsh went into hiding. From the looks of it, the fighting didn't make much of a difference, except for the creation of a large Scottish population in America. But I digress.

We spend the night in Cardiff in rather an unromantic place - the Hotel Ibis. But £39 for a night is too good a deal to pass up on, especially when it comes with free wireless internet access! ;) We look forward to Cardiff (Caerdydd for those of us who'd like to pretend to be Welsh) because of all that Jon has told us of its vibrant nightlife.

Day 4: The Return (or the detour to England)

We haven't quite planned Day 4 just yet, and aren't yet sure if there will be a Day 5. We will try to keep you posted.

The weather seems to be uncharacteristically sunny for all of the days we plan to travel - God's (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster's) way of making up for our Swiss disaster, perhaps?

Updates on Twitter:

For those of you who might be interested in tuning into (hopefully) regular updates on the progress of our trip, I should be updating my status fairly regularly on Twitter at . Yes, I'm trying desperately to build up a following on Twitter.


Jon said...

Looks like a good route! I would suggest maybe taking the A470 from Hay-on-Wye to Cardiff, it's the same distance and that way you go over the mountains and through the heart of the valleys. Llanelli is pronounced 'Schaneschi', kinda. The double L sound is hard to write in English letters.

Hope you have a great trip and the sun continues to shine for you!

daysleeper said...

I know exactly what it's like to explain things to the 'brain dead moron at the departure lounge' (borrowing your phrase since the names I call her in my head are worse). Had the same experience flying from Seattle to LA on a long journey that would eventually get me to India via Frankfurt. The lady insisted I need a valid German visa to even fly over German soil! No amount of explaining about stopovers helped. Thankfully, she went through a fat book of rules and found a line on page 278 or some such and let me through. the pic of Cymru looks beautiful, btw.
(Yours is one of the random well-written blogs I read occasionally)

Sudhir syal said...

Sid the Kid...good to read some of your stuff after a long time.

Particularly liked the descriptions with the phots.. Good read :)

Who was driving though? Just wondering.... :)

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