Guns & Butter: Conwy, Wales Travel Guide

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Conwy Wales Travel Guide is part of Punxsutawney TPOL Trip Report.


TPOL’s Guns & Butter Travel Guide is the best way to see as much as you can in as little time as possible. Here’s how it works – A trip is composed of two factors: Labor And Lazy. The opportunity cost (what is given up) for relaxing and being Lazy is gained by being adventurous in the form of Labor and vice versa. The guide includes inefficient activities i.e., tourist traps that should be avoided and aspirational activities that are worth doing but may be impossible to see given the constraints of time and resources.


I am convinced more than ever that the TCC list for what constitutes a country should be the standard for the ever popular question- How many countries have you visited (see Is Hawaii a Country?)? Wales is a perfect example of a place that is not a country by the standard definition, but should be for a plethora of reasons.

Here are a few:

They have their own language, Welsh. They have their own national football team. They have dragons.

But for the TCC list and the World Cup years ago where the Welsh team made a strong showing, I would have overlooked this country. I would have been satisfied that visiting England ticked off the box for the entire United Kingdom. That line of thinking would have been unfortunate since I would have also missed out on Scotland (see Guns & Butter: Edinburgh Travel Guide) and Northern Ireland (see Guns & Butter: Belfast Travel Guide).

Now that I have you convinced that Wales is a country, here is everything you need to know about Conwy, the city I went to from Manchester (see Guns & Butter: Manchester Travel Guide).

Train

The train from Oxford Road in Manchester had one stop in Chester, passed through my hometown of Flint, and took two hours.

I’m always concerned if I purchased the right tickets (see “Tickets, Please, Tickets”).

My fear captured in his face.

TPOL’s Tip: Treat yourself to some wine as you wait for the connecting train in Chester.

Where the duck are you from ffffff Flint town

The Town

The town looks like something from a storybook.

Dragons

The stories are true. There are dragons everywhere.

Coffee

The first stop was a coffee house that looked more like my grandma’s house than a Starbucks.

Souvenirs

TPOL’s Travel Lesson for souvenirs is simple: if you see it and like it, buy it. Something always comes up if I leave such purchases to the end.

TPOL’s Tip: This does not apply for souvenirs that require bargaining.

In Conwy, I bought the staple shot glass, coasters, and a football jersey but neglected to buy a dragon futbol scarf.

Castle

A local told me he never went to the castle and he would never go. “The castle was built by the English to keep us out.” I dare someone to tell him that Wales is not a country.

I went to the castle, my third on this trip (see Guns & Butter: Ribera Del Duero, Madrid Travel Guide (Vino Edition) and Guns & Butter: Edinburgh Travel Guide) because it’s something to do in this small town. It’s not a must-do but a might as well.

Mussels

The reason I went to Wales was to check off another country on my Country Count. The reason I went to Conwy is because strangers at a random bar in Edinburgh told me that Conwy has the best mussels and lamb in the world.

Probably the finest fish & chips but definitely the best mussels.

Bar

I was told to go to the Marina for mussels. That required taking a taxi. Before figuring out the logistics of how to do that, I thought it wise to stop at a bar and have a drink.

Like the coffee house, this pub was more like a friend’s house and less like a bar. Cozy in the corner, I pulled up the menu for Marina but did not see mussels. In a friendly mood, I asked the man seated on the couch next to me if he was from Conwy and if he knew where I could find mussels. Stewart, as I learned his name to be, took it upon himself to call multiple restaurants to inquire. Alas, no one had mussels. Recognizing one of the local chefs sitting at the bar, he asked if his restaurant had any mussels. The chef replied that the order had not come in but the prognosis was not promising. I messaged my Welsh friend who was dumbfounded when I said the town was dry. I then went across the street to Shakespeare’s, the chef’s restaurant, at the Castle Hotel to ask if any mussels would be coming today. I returned with disheartening news. Due to the dredging of the coastline, there were no mussels to be had. The next time mussels would be available would be the day after and even then, they would be in limited supply.

By this time, half the town had learned about my search for mussels. Try as they might, no one could find a single mussel. Many beers in, the despair from not finding mussels gave way to jokes about mussels and their cousin the cockle. Stewart said if I was really desperate I could try pickled mussels and pickled cockles. This led to more jokes and to Ms. TPOL going across the street for a few jars.

Hours later, it was time to say goodbye to my new friends and go to dinner for Wales’s other famous dish, the lamb. Before we did, Stewart had left and came back with more pickled mussels and cockles for our train ride home.

Guy on the left is called Sausage.

TPOL’s Tip: The Ye Olde Mail Coach needs no address. The town is tiny. You will find it.

Conwy by Night

The town is as charming at night as it is by day.

Lamb

The same restaurant that did not have the mussels did have the lamb. It was so good that I almost forgot about the mussels. Almost.

Family portrait.

Truffle fries

Gin for the Road

On the way out of town, I stopped by the former bank for my new favorite drink, grapefruit infused gin and soda. Make it a double. Then it was back to the train station for the hammered ride home.

Yes to gin.
No to Aperol cocktail.
Definite no to Wales whiskey.
My vision.

The Guns & Butter Takeaway

I take it personally when I travel and what I am supposed to do does not go according to plan. Rationalize as I try, I am not happy until I see, taste, experience, what I came to see, taste or experience. In Madrid, they said the bullfight was sold out. I persisted until I found tickets (see Attending A Bullfight In Madrid: A Range of Emotions). In Zimbabwe, they said that all spots for the Devil’s Pool were taken. I wandered the town until I finally found a company to make the booking (see The Devil’s Pool Zambia: Loungin Atop Victoria Falls). In Conwy, I fell short of experiencing the mussels, despite this great story. While I am disappointed, the experience is consistent with the Guns & Butter Travel Guide, whereby I will never be able to see, do, and experience everything a place has to offer in the limited time I am there.

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