I’ve been granted a weekend free of children and would like to go to North Wales (in two weeks time).
I want somewhere that I can get to by train from near Birmingham and where I can speak Welsh as much as poss. I’ve completed level 3 but not spoken much.
If there are walks/bike rides/castles/local excitements/folk music/good seafood, these are all bonuses…
Can anyone recommend anywhere please? Bangor looks like it would work but I’m open to ideas.
I’ve heard it said that it can be difficult to find someone to speak Welsh with in Bangor, but a bus from there could take you to very Welsh-speaking Caernarfon (albeit with its own strong dialect) which should tick most of your ‘bonus boxes’
Good alternatives with trains from Birmingham could be Aberystwyth or Machynlleth (Caffi Alys seems to be the plave to meet Welsh learners there)
I hadn’t heard that about Bangor so thank you! Thank you for the other suggestions too.
I’ve found Bangor to be ok but obv its a Uni City, so quite diluted. I only tried the services, Tesco and the Travelodge, but they were all ok.
As mentioned, if you want to find Cymraeg as the default language, the Caernarfon area is the best.
I flew to Birmingham for my trip to Wales last year.
It’s definitely very easy to North Wales from there (train to Bangor, then I had planned to catch a bus but actually got a free ride to Caernarfon when I asked two ladies for directions. That’s Wales! ).
I would probably go for Caernarfon - lotssss of Welsh speakers there all over the place, and a nice bookshop too!
Sometimes the accent strong (I had never been to the Gogledd and needed a bit of adjustment - but got my bonus box for managing it* @johnwilliams_6 ) and some right away they may speak at the speed of light.
But if you tell them you’re a learner they’re always willing to help.
Of course I would second Aberystwyth and Machynlleth too for the practice and very nice places too. However traveling with public transport often takes quite a lot of time so you may want to consider that and check itineraries first!
On the touristy side, from my experience although there’s certainly more:
Castle of Caernarfon definitely worth a visit also a pretty large museum in it.
Nice walk path along the coast from Aberystwyth although I couldn’t go far as there was a lot of fog and I was worried to get lost or fall from a cliff! (don’t mean to scare you, just saying that in winter as I usually travel, weather conditions might not be so good to do a lot of outdoor action so maybe better go for visits and food! )
The North Wales Coast line will get you to Bangor where you could get a bus to Caernarfon (as others have said, Caernarfon ticks a lot of boxes!), or the Cambrian line will get you to Machynlleth and then either down to Aberystwyth or up to Porthmadog, Criccieth or Pwllheli (those are the bigger towns on the line).
Castles can be found at Caernarfon, Aberystwyth and Criccieth (Caernarfon is the biggest), nice walks pretty much everywhere, and there’s definitely a bike-hire place in Caernarfon though I’m not sure about elsewhere.
I’m not sure about any folk music gigs coming up (there aren’t any listed in those areas on the ‘gigs’ thread at the moment) but there could well be Christmas concerts on in most places. I can’t advise on seafood much as I rarely eat it but I’ve heard good things about Dylan’s in Criccieth, and Twnti Seafood Restaurant in Pwllheli, and I know La Marina and Stones Bistro in Caernarfon offer seafood choices.
The Nefyn to Aberdaron area on the Peninsula is the place to be.