Never mistake a Welshman for an Englishman. At least that is what I have been told. Wales is a beautiful country and the Welsh are very proud of it. The thin ribbon of road that runs from the south to the north along the western coast leads through beautiful beaches, farmland and mountain ranges.
From Cardiff, I mention that we will be stopping in Swansea. Anyone from outside of Swansea is quick to attach a stigma to it. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Swansea was a big mining town. Copper and coal were the main exports. Copper smelters and freighters polluted the bay. Swansea was also heavily damaged during WWII, in a targeted attack due to its industrial importance. The Blitz flattened the city centre leaving only a few medieval structures standing. The city was rebuilt upon a struggling economy and is still in the process of remediation. However, today the beaches are clean and the mining industry has ceased. There is a university in the city and the coastal trail stretches out around the peninsula through gorgeous beaches, golf courses, and rugged coastline. This is a city ripe with potential and is on the verge of gentrification. I think Swansea deserves another chance.
The costal hiking trail goes on for hundreds of miles. It is treasured and protected by the Welsh people. Around each bend, there are beautiful beaches carved out of the tall sheets of rock. Who would have thought that Wales would boast some of the most beautiful beaches in the world? As the tide drifts out, small in-lets of soft sand reveal themselves. Surfers and kayakers launch from these beaches and happily share in the conspiracy that this is their own little secret piece of the world. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the nay-sayers. It would have been my loss.