Lovely Cadiz

Lovely Cadiz
Cadiz - my favorite place so far in the trip to Southern Spain

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bloggo Dodicesimo My Weekend in Llandudno: 1 of 2

Welcome to Dottore Gianni’s first official “trip” posting of fall 2011. Of course it’s still high summer, though the day I left, Friday 29 July, was a gray-ish one in London. I boarded a Virgin train at Euston station, travelling in the quiet coach – very smooth ride, very pleasant. I departed that luxury (relatively speaking) liner at Warrington Bank Quay, not far from Chester, relegated to a much smaller, slightly bumpier train which services Wales, which followed a marshy waterway, passing small villages made up of small, redbrick houses with it seems several chimneys in each, and arrived at my destination in 45 minutes. I negated much of the unpleasantness and the jabber of my fellow passengers by making use of my “total” sound system, an ipod Nano and earphones. Lively music courtesy Antonio Vivaldi significantly upgraded my journey as we chugged along a coastal area in North Wales. One of the places stopped at is named Rhyl, a good Welsh name, but a sad-looking place, a seaside resort gone sour. I decided to have a look in the Rough Guide Wales that Bill Sheasgreen kindly leant me. The very small segment on Rhyl begins: “Anything you can do in Rhyl you can do better elsewhere…there’s almost no reason to stay in this decaying Edwardian resort completely disfigured by amusement arcades.” Apparently I was right about Rhyl.

We passed Gwrych Castle (wonderfully and unpronounceably Welsh – not at all unlike  the Croation Hrkach) and stopped a few moments later at a place called Colwyn Bay, whose name sounds lovely, but whose prospects seem low. It’s nearly as dismal a place as Rhys.

As luck would have it, I had, in choosing Llandudno, picked one of the best, perhaps THE best place in the general area to spend a few days, along with Conwy, which I will visit on a day-trip over the weekend.

And then, after another stop at Llandudno Junction, apparently closer to Conwy than to Llandudno, we arrived! I was toting a fairly light bag, but didn’t want to go off in search of the tourist office until I’d dropped it at my hotel. I took a one of the shortest taxi rides on record (at a total cost of £2.60) and entered the Winchmore Hotel, on the Promenade next to the beach, well, “next” not counting the road, pulsating with traffic, that one has to cross before one attains the beach.

This hotel is one of the strangest I have ever spent a night in! Note to self: don’t merely look at the rating (8.1 on – a very good rating), also look at the reviews themselves -- you might learn something. The location couldn’t be better, granting that you can cross the street and remain alive to brag of it, but it is not quite as genteel-looking up close as the photos make it out to be. A sullen young woman greeted me in a sullen young manner after far too long a wait at the front door. She checked me in dutifully but told me nothing at all else that I needed to know. As we walked up the stairs I asked if there was a map of the town. She paused, thought about it and finally said, “Yes! Hanging in a frame on the wall near the entrance.” I supposed I was not to take it with me. Once I got into the room I realized that I’d forgot to ask about the wi-fi password, went down to find her, but she had disappeared into some dark passage or other of the Winchmore. I went back up to the room and had a chance to look around – that didn’t take long, as this room…well, let’s just say that if I was a medieval monk it would have suited me fine. 

I’ve grown used to it, but it may be one of the worst little rooms I’ve ever stayed in – and I’ve stayed in some pretty bad little rooms. Calling it Spartan is to take it up several notches from the correct description. And yet it has its unusual charms. For example, though there is nothing hanging on the wall saving an explanation on what to do in case of fire, if you look at the bland wall closely…VERY closely…you’ll see that it is textured and patterned to a point, if nearly invisible: 

And while you I am able to fold twice two of the three pillows provided, the third is quite sturdy. Oh, and I also want to point out that while the hotel faces the beach, not all of the rooms offer a sea view. Here's the view from mine:

Breakfast is offered between 9 am and 10 am only (?) – short and late – so all 20 + rooms are served virtually at once – you are assigned a table, the continental-style choices are so woeful (toast, cold cereals, grapefruit wedges from cans, and prunes) that you’re nearly forced to order the full-English breakfast, which was not very well prepared. Breakfast is served by a tall skinny urchin, whose hair, styled straight up on his head, makes him look even taller and more gawky than he is. Finally (for the purposes of this post, but I have many more examples), as breakfast started so late for any sort of early riser, I decided to take a health walk down the promenade, getting back just in time for the food – but I couldn’t get out the front door of the hotel! It was blocked off because the entrance had just been re-painted – this at the height of tourist season, and on a weekend! I finally found a way out (back door basement) and had my walk, but is this any way to run a hotel? 8.1 rating?? But the price is right. And, some of you are thinking, "You get what you pay for, Dottore Gianni..."

To be continued in part 2 0f 2! And don't worry -- not all of it is negative -- some actually quite pleasant! 

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