By the time I arrive at my lodging in Hay-on-Wye, I am bone tired. The sun is rapidly setting; I don’t bother trying to explore the little town by the river before dark, and instead opt to get a long night’s sleep. Tomorrow holds a long drive — the second-longest of what would ultimately be 2,300+ miles across, over and around Great Britain over the course of 11 days. Yes, sleep now, explore later.
I wake up, pack up my things and make my way down to the dining room of the Old Black Lion for breakfast. It’s a quintessential countryside inn, with all the charm and history of the centuries-old building.
I settle in to breakfast, knowing that I probably will not have to eat again until very late in the afternoon. If there’s one thing I have learned on my trip, it’s that the people of the UK take breakfast very, very seriously. I work my way through toast accompanied by 6 different kinds of jams, yogurt with fruit compote, porridge, and finally a traditional Welsh breakfast of eggs, sausage, beans and cooked tomatoes and mushrooms. One of those courses alone would constitute breakfast in many countries.
After checking out, I toss my bags in the back of my little Fiesta, whom I have dubbed Obie, and set out to wander through the town. This little market community is known internationally as the “town of books”, and there are few things I love more than bookshops.
And bookshops I did find, along with a slew of cute market shops and even a castle ruin. I could stay in Hay all day, hopping from book store to coffee shop and back, but alas, I have to get on the road. I have one more stop in Wales, further down the River Wye before crossing the border in the south England.
Driving through the idyllic Welsh countryside, I arrive at Tintern, home to the ruins of a Cistercian abbey founded in 1131. Tintern Abbey lies just north of where the River Wye joins with the much larger River Severn before becoming the Bristol Channel. Once you cross the Severn Bridge, you are in England.
After 2 weeks of chateaus, castles, abbeys and all other manner of sprawling historic vestiges of ancient architecture, you’d think one would grow jaded of such things. But you would be wrong.