Win­some Wales

The south­ern part of this Bri­tish re­gion of­fers the per­fect place to let the ro­mance back into your re­la­tion­ship.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Travel - By MYSCHA THERIAULT

RIP­PLING fields, rugged coast­line and a strong agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity with close ties to the lo­cal food scene are just some of the rea­sons cou­ples in the know would move South Wales to the top of their travel list of ro­man­tic get­aways. Lovely lo­cal inns, a solid col­lec­tion of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal as­sets and a great craft beer and cider scene are a few more. I found the south­ern part of Wales to be rel­a­tively af­ford­able, even dur­ing the sum­mer high sea­son. Here’s a break­down of the places I found to pro­vide the best bal­ance be­tween bot­tom-line bud­get and au­then­tic at­mos­phere.

If you are look­ing for a place to re­lax and en­joy a bit of peace and quiet in the cap­i­tal city of Cardiff after a day of mu­se­ums and cafe hop­ping, check out the free-to-visit Bute Park and Ar­bore­tum. At­trac­tions in­clude the fa­mous an­i­mal wall with stone sculp­tures of crea­tures from around the world, a cen­turies-old fri­ary, nat­u­ral recre­ation spa­ces, nu­mer­ous hor­ti­cul­tural ar­eas of in­ter­est and places for your pooch to roam and splash. They also have cafes on site. It’s a great spot to kill some time in Cardiff while you take a break from the ve­hi­cle and foot traf­fic.

Di­rectly ad­ja­cent to Bute Park are the ex­ten­sive grounds of Cardiff Cas­tle. A world-class her­itage

£12 site with only a (RM67) en­try ticket, the cas­tle’s his­tory spans sev­eral pe­ri­ods. An en­tire Nor­man keep is lo­cated on a hill within the in­te­rior grounds, and a tun­nel for­merly used as an air raid shel­ter is pre­served as a time cap­sule com­plete with bunk beds, a snack counter for ex­tended stays and vin­tage framed posters. The ticket price comes with a free au­dio guide and ac­cess to some of the elab­o­rately dec­o­rated apart­ments near the clock tower in the more mod­ern por­tion of the cas­tle.

Not far from Cardiff is the town of Barry, which of­fers a num­ber of hik­ing trails ac­ces­si­ble for free at Porthk­erry Park, along with wide open fields for pic­nick­ing and let­ting the dogs play off leash. There’s also a smaller park near the wa­ter­front with ac­cess to swans, ice cream shops and a beach-front por­tion of the na­tional coastal walk­ing trail.

Ar­chae­ol­ogy buffs will want to carve out time in their road trip to visit the var­i­ous Ro­man re­mains of Caer­leon. The town it­self is very charm­ing, with fun pubs, an old ceme­tery, and a va­ri­ety of other shops for the in­ter­ested trav­eller

All of the sites on the an­cient Ro­man her­itage trail are free, in­clud­ing the ex­ca­vated baths with in­ter­pre­tive ex­hibit, the am­phithe­atre, mu­seum and orig­i­nal bar­racks for the sol­diers.

Llan­erch Vine­yard in Vale of Glam­or­gan pro­vides a ro­man­tic, rest­ful spot to rest your head and grab a bite while still be­ing within easy strik­ing dis­tance to Cardiff and all of its at­trac­tions. You can en­joy a drink at the bar and restau­rant in the mid­dle of the vines, or take a morn­ing stroll on the groomed walk­ing paths. Ex­tra ac­tiv­i­ties such as cook­ing classes and tast­ing ses­sions are also avail­able

Mid­week rates can drop by as much as half. We scored a spa­cious room with made-to-or­der

£90 break­fast for two for just (RM502), less than we’ve paid back in the States for a ba­sic, bud­get-friendly chain ho­tel.

The Three Horse­shoes in Moul­ton is an easy drive to both Barry and Cardiff. Lo­cated on a quiet coun­try farm road, it’s equal parts pub and inn, with room prices

£80 start­ing at (RM446) for dou­ble oc­cu­pancy, in­clud­ing a hearty break­fast the next morn­ing. Fun craft beers and a se­lec­tion of ciders are avail­able on tap, with com­pli­men­tary views of the sur­round­ing coun­try­side.

Both of the ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions we chose boasted on-site bars with plenty of bev­er­age ac­cess through­out the day. They came with evening menus as well, with the minted lamb burger be­ing the stand­out at Llan­erch and the lasagna with gar­lic bread be­ing the splurge-wor­thy en­tree at The Three Horse­shoes.

Also worth a visit is Rev­o­lu­tion near the en­trance to Cardiff Cas­tle. For happy hour, they have great half-price starter plat­ters that are sized to share, along with small plate treats you can com­bine as a

three-for-£10 meal us­ing their

(RM56) deal. We en­joyed goat cheese bites, vege­tar­ian na­chos and other good­ies along with drinks after spend­ing sev­eral hours ex­plor­ing the park and cas­tle across the street. It was a great way to un­wind be­fore run­ning some er­rands on foot and head­ing back to the park­ing garage for the drive back to our inn in the coun­try. – Tri­bune News Ser­vice

A cou­ple en­joys the view from a walk­ing path along the coast of Wales, while their dog en­joys the breeze. — DAVID DICK­IN­SON/TNS

The Welsh coun­try­side pro­vides a re­lax­ing back­drop for cou­ples in search of a ro­man­tic get­away. — MYSCHA THERIAULT/TNS

The grounds in­side Cardiff Cas­tle in­clude a num­ber of sights, in­clud­ing an en­tire Nor­man keep avail­able for ex­plo­ration. — MYSCHA THERIAULT/TNS

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