One of the few not so great things about going on vacation is reaching the end of it – not because it sucks being back, but because it feels so incredibly long until you’ll be able to go on your next one! What if I tell you that doesn’t have to be the case, will that make you feel a bit better? Good, because mini-vacations in your local area can be pretty damn awesome too!
Wherever it is that you call home, there are most likely loads of things to see and experiences to have just around the corner. Places with cool stories that you never got around to check out, delicious food that you haven’t actually tried or other hidden cultural gems, just waiting for you to find them. The thing is, that going on a tiny vacation over the weekend isn’t hard at all: you’ll be surprised at how much fun you can fit into two days!
Since I recently spent two days in the beautiful Valleys of South Wales on a Press Trip, I’m gonna use that area as an example but I’ll try to keep it general so that you can apply it to where you live too! Sounds good? Alright, let’s have a look at the gorgeous hills and fascinating culture!
Pro Tip: Be flexible. Having a little plan is awesome but it’s ok to stray: want to spend more time at a location than planned? That’s fine. Want to check out that cool-looking place? Do it!
Every single place has seen events and gone through things that have made it what it is today – just like people! Often you can find some kind of recording of how the past has chiseled out and colored the present, and hopefully have some fun while you’re at it! Nothing has had more impact on Wales (in recent years, anyway) than the coal mining industry, so that’s where we’ll start!
Located in beautiful Rhondda, this Heritage Park used to be a running mine and captures the very essence of the life of the miners. Other than a lovely café and a charming little gift shop, you’ll find exhibitions full of various devices and equipment that were used down in the mines as well as general artifacts from a time gone by – you can have a peek at a little piece of coal from the Titanic as well!
More exciting and fascinating than anything else in this park is the mine itself, and if you go on the tour (recommended!) you’ll get to know a whole bunch of interesting – and sometimes rather disturbing – facts and anecdotes about mining. You’ll see the enormous machinery, find out what lamp checks are, and you’ll even get to go down in the mine – and the best part is that your lovely guides are former miners themselves!
Did I just hear a fake snore? I sure hope not, because history is bloody awesome. The way that people used to live is both hilarious, fascinating and sometimes harrowing, and you can find collections, old buildings and ruins all over the world that give you an insight into the madness of the yesteryears, so start googling for exciting places in your area!
The moment you enter this old estate you’re sent to the year 1645, and while the Pritchards – the masters of the house – aren’t in, their servants are happy to tell you all about their daily duties and share medieval lifehacks on how to get rid of a toothache or making sure that Death doesn’t think you’re dead when you’re actually just napping. The actors are amazing and never break character – and I got to hold a sword!
Ideally, we should all get a little taste of Mother Nature’s creations every single day, but some quality time on the weekend will do as well! Being outside is like a soothing balm for even the busiest of souls, so have a look around and find a park, desert, forest or just a patch of grass that you can visit!
This gorgeous bundle of open fields, lush trees and wooden sculptures used to be a mine, believe it or not. It’s a great place to go for a walk, and if you want to know more about the flora and fauna you can go on a guided tour – we went on an adder hunt! There are also hides for bird watching, and if the Canada geese aren’t being too rowdy you can spot a whole bunch of cute waterbirds and beautiful butterflies. And, it’s all free!
Finally – time for food! Every day people take the plunge and give up their bread and butter to start providing others with some actual bread and butter – in other words, they start their own food business. And why not give them some support while at the same time getting a bit of local cuisine? It’s a win for everyone involved – especially your belly.
This is a lovely little establishment with a lovely, rustic atmosphere where you can rent a room and stay the night. The reason we went there though, was the afternoon tea. And what an experience that was: delicious finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam and gorgeous sweetmeats – all made from scratch! This was my first-afternoon tea ever and I can definitely see why Anna, Duchess of Bedford, introduced it to her peers.
Here’s another place where you can stay the night and also get some amazing food: this time a classic, homemade, roast dinner. The food was amazing, and the chocolate cake for dessert was to die for – I’d easily pay a two-digit price for a couple of pieces of that bad boy. The bistro is part of a local Resource and Wellbeing Centre and has a truly breathtaking view over the Valleys.
Yep, South Wales is a gorgeous place with so much to see and do – if you’re far from the area you probably have lots of awesome places close to you that you can explore! Many people tend to think that you need to go wide and far to have a proper vacation, but you can easily find great experiences waiting for you in your backyard! And the best thing is that you can fit so much into a day or two – if I can do it, then so can you!
Press Trip sponsored by The Valleys