Welcome back everyone!
Today I share with you a trip I took to explore an absolute gem of a place- hidden amongst the mountains of North Wales -a village of Portmeirion.
Portmeirion is a village designed and built by Sir Clough Williams Ellis between 1925 and 1975. It’s inspired by Italian architecture and gained incredible popularity due to its unique design among traditional Welsh landscape surroundings. The village is now owned by charitable trust and open to tourists all year round. The village was used for production of various films and TV shows; including a well-known TV show – ‘’The Prisoner’’ in 1960’s. The place is additionally used for various concerts, gigs or carnival events with many people also choosing to get married there.
The architect and artist behind the village design, expressed his love for the Mediterranean and Italian villages which were a major inspiration for this place’s architecture. In the design of this place he also incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works of other architects. There’s a lot to see in Portmeirion village- such as cottages, hotel, spa resort, cafes, restaurants and also multiple hiking and walking trails which lead you to various gardens surrounding the area, where you can find exotic plants from all around the world.
The place is very picturesque with a postcard opportunity on every corner and a pleasant romantic ambience. I think that spending a day isn’t enough to grasp the beauty and atmosphere of this place, so if you’re thinking of taking a trip down to explore it, consider making it a 2 day trip to soak up all the beauty of this village without rushing around.
Stepping into this place I was in awe, everywhere I looked seemed like a perfect photo opportunity. The soft, pastel colours dominated the place with such vibrancy I genuinely felt like I was in another country. There was an interesting contrast created between the picturesque fairy tale buildings and an old roman- style architecture. There was a lot of art scattered throughout the place… in forms of sculptures, pillars, wall art all the way down to window displays…
I know the place was heavily influenced from Italian architecture, which is definitely visible even upon an arrival. However, I saw influences of other countries too. Such as through visiting the Buddha tower or a Chinese garden…
I headed to the nature trails, being an incredible nature enthusiast. I couldn’t wait to explore what is hidden amongst the hiking paths in this place. And with that, I have to admit that I got horribly lost…. And wasted a lot of time circling around the place trying to find my way back… Yayy to Marta and her ‘great’ navigation skills!
I have to say though that I’ve successfully managed to see all the ‘’perks’’ of different trails. So Behold! For I will share them with you! And also, if you will visit the place in the nearby future… learn from my mistake and don’t rely on the maps this place provides you … they suck. Their accuracy sucks. The place is amazing, but their maps suck.
Upon entering the hiking trails, almost immediately you are struck with a wide variety of plants. The confusion was surreal, I felt as if I’m travelling through continents just by walking a single footpath-Asia, Europe, America… Jurassic Park jungle… you name it.
There’s different length trails which take you through numerous routes…. Some are very easy and others are more challenging, wild and sometimes overgrown. It really depends on how long you want to spend exploring and how many things you want to see. Or you can do it the ‘Marta way’ and just head forward, get lost and miraculously actually manage to see all of it! I’d like to point out that for those with mobility issues, there’s also a train which takes you around the main route but it doesn’t stop, so there isn’t really much time to take any photos or to really admire the views.
I walked down the path and noticed the ‘’hidden treasures’’ in form of art and architecture designs hidden all across the woodland trails. I felt as if I was exploring a magical and enchanted forest, seeing all sorts of paths with plants and flowers decorating the metal arches or stone pillars…. It was wonderful! As I kept walking through the paths, the somewhat sunny weather disappeared and dark rain clouds started covering the sky, suddenly it became a lot darker on the paths and the green colours around me grew more intense.
Of course, my main areas of interest were the spooky parts of the woodland such as the ‘Dog Cemetery’ and the ‘Ghost Garden’. The dog cemetery was tough to find… but ultimately, I got there! And was pleasantly surprised as the place was a lot more eerie than I imagined. Especially with a now grey sky and rain coming down. The entrance was quite surreal as there was a natural arch formed from trees leading the way into the dog cemetery. There was a huge statue of a dark dog in the middle of the place which looked really haunting. Surrounding it, there was a numerous amount of tiny gravestones with names of dogs, photos and toys. I found this place to be quite creepy in the atmosphere and unusual as this is the first time I saw a graveyard dedicated to dogs.
There was a few interesting things I saw while on the way and I was mesmerized by the dark, mysterious atmosphere of the entire place, until – ultimately I reached the ‘Ghost Garden’ and it was surprisingly underwhelming. The gate was interesting, there was some plants that were unusual but it was obvious that this part of the trail hasn’t had much attention in a while. The paths were overgrown and sometimes even covered by collapsed trees. Walking around Portmeirion and seeing what it has to offer, I was expecting a bit more. Perhaps some ghostly sculptures, ruins, arches but all in all, it turned out to be quite empty.
After the ‘Ghost Garden’ I took some photos of the seaside visible through the trees from the path… it was very beautiful. Calm, peaceful. If I had more time I would certainly climb down to the beach and take a stroll as the tide was out. However, due to my poor navigational skills I was already running short on time so I headed back onto the official path, to get back to the village.
On the way back, I stopped by another beautiful place which was the Chinese Garden. The small lake had stunning lilies floating in them, there was some Chinese architecture present in the form of bridges and gazebos. I sat there among that beauty and had some snacks, to refuel and take in all the scenery around me. There wasn’t really that many people around so I had the whole place to myself, completely filled with peace and tranquillity.
Upon returning to the village I was amazed by how empty it got. A true example of how rain can be a natural repellent for some people. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy exploring on the rainy days so much – less people and it feels more peaceful. That comes with some downsides though, as it is a bit harder to explore when you’re not prepared. All the cafes shut, my camera isn’t waterproof, I forgot my lens hood and there wasn’t many places to hide when the rain started pouring down heavier.
It was interesting to see this place in the darker setting. The colours were flourishing in the sunshine earlier that day, now becoming more muted and gray. There was a moody tone to the scenery and I was all for it! I walked around the village a bit more, admiring more sculpture and art details including a massive chess board! Mind you, this game will challenge you mentally and physically as the chess pieces are pretty heavy!
I had an over-all absolutely mesmerizing time in Portmeirion and will definitely come back again. Whether you want to explore the woodlands, relax by the beach, spend some time with the family, play massive chess, have a spa session or spend all day drinking tea/coffee at an elegant café admiring the views around you. It also has a few special events taking place there, including a very popular Welsh music Festival No.6. There’s something for everyone in Portmeirion, as this place has a lot to offer and I highly recommend it! So go ahead and add it to your bucket list!
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