In this article our guest writer, Francesco Visconti, takes us to Verona for the weekend to find the true Italian heart of the city beyond the story of Rome and Juliet.
Everybody in the world knows Verona as the set for Shakespeare’s romance Romeo & Juliet and lovers go there as pilgrims just to see the famous Juliet’s balcony. But for an Italian who loves to travel and tries to discover the real soul of place, like me, it’s easy to perceive that this city is much more and that its romantic atmosphere came before Juliet’s balcony. A few weeks ago I spent a weekend in Verona, with my girlfriend, of course. I had already been here when I was 12 with my family, but only this time I could understand the specialty of Verona, if compared to many other Italian destinations, that foreigners visiting the town for just one day may not see.
We arrived at the train station on Friday afternoon just after lunch. The beginning of the autumn is the perfect time to visit Verona, with less tourists but still good weather and gorgeous colours all around. At this time of the day, when nobody’s in the streets, you can really enjoy the peaceful atmosphere on Corso Porta Nuova, the big boulevard that goes from the monumental door of the 16th century Porta Nuova to the centre. At the end of the boulevard we passed under the two arches that give access to Piazza Brà and it was like a jump in history. We left at our back the modern town to get in the old Roman town of Verona, whose symbol is the Arena, the second most known amphitheatre of the Roman age after the Coliseum. The Arena is less tall but larger than its brother in Rome, perfectly preserved and with an incredible acoustic that makes it perfect for concerts and music festivals!
Until 10 years ago the Arena was home of the most popular music festival in Italy, the Festivalbar and the first time I visited Verona it was just during the days of the event. So I couldn’t visit it and now I was just too excited to see it from the inside, to walk on the sand and climb the steps until the top to have a look at the rooftops of the surrounding square. In the Coliseum you can hardly touch anything, while in the Arena you are free to go all around the amphitheatre and, instead of thousands tourists struggling for taking a good picture, here we were almost alone and could make fly our imagination to the era of gladiators.
As you can suppose, we spent a good part of the afternoon in Piazza Brà and when we came out of the Arena it was already “Spritz time”. The Spritz is a typical drink from Verona and the Veneto region in general that people drink more or less at the same time when English drink tea.
In search of a nice bar, we passed from the Roman to the medieval era, walking through the pedestrian streets inside the walls of the old town. What really hit me is that almost all the area is pedestrian, something that I haven’t seen in any other Italian city and that really made me enjoy the walk. We finally found streets full of people going for shopping, for an ice-cream or chilling at the bars with their Spritz.
After our random tour of Friday night, we planned our Saturday to visit the rest of the city. Our first stop was Juliet’s house and balcony. We tried to go relatively early in the morning, but no matter what’s the time, half of the tourists in town are always pointing to that hypnotic balcony or to the statue of naked Juliet below it. We contributed to the ceremony for a while and then followed the tour into the more enjoyable Piazza delle Erbe. This place has always been the heart of Verona: it is the oldest square of the town and lies upon the ruins of the Forum of the Roman town, it’s been setting for the market and today is the heart of nightlife, full of bars and restaurants.
And it’s also an incredible collection of monuments and buildings of different eras: the house of the municipality, the Lamberti tower, the painted Mazzanti houses, the fountain with the statue of the holy Mary, the “Tribuna” and the column with the Lyon of St. Mark, symbol of the power of the old Republic of Venice, which ruled upon Verona in the 15th century. All these attractions are amazingly put together, without clashing each other, like in a colourful painting and at first sight, attracted by its elegance, you don’t even realize its wealth in culture and history.
We took a while to breathe and continued the tour. We just had to make 20 meters at the back of the House of Municipality to get to another amazing square: Piazza dei Signori, with at its centre the statue of Dante Alighieri. The imposing statue made the Veronese people give the square the name of Piazza Dante. It’s another square built in medieval times and surrounded by monumental buildings. The very curious thing is that each of them is linked to the next through arches. In a corner of the square there’s maybe the most particular monument of Verona: the “Arche Scaligere”, monumental tombs in the open air topped by arches in gothic style. They were considered the most honourable burial for the illustrious lords of the Scaligeri family, who ruled the city in the 14th century.
After a quick glance at the cathedral and the basilica of St Zeno, in the late afternoon, a bit outside the centre, we visited Castelvecchio, literally the old castle. We went there at this time to enjoy then a walk at sunset through the charming Scaligeri bridge, that crosses the river from the castle and then continuing along the river Adige until the Pietra bridge, the only bridge built in Roman times remaining nowadays. If you want to do something romantic in Verona, visit this side of the town under the night-lights!
We dedicated the Sunday to shopping and to try typical food from Veneto region. A foreigner wouldn’t appreciate the difference and everything that sounds like Italian food would taste delicious. But for an Italian that eats pasta everyday it was necessary to find a “trattoria” with typical Veronese cuisine!
Many thanks for this article to Francesco Visconti, a 26 years old Italian travel blogger and startupper, author of GaddersBlog and creator of the travel platform Gadders that helps foreign travellers discover the best places in Italy. He’s a full-time traveller, having been living abroad in different countries for 4 years, now living in Spain. He loves to know in depth a place and a country and, when home begins getting boring, starts looking for new destinations that stimulate his senses. Follow his Twitter feed and Pinterest or visit him on Google+.
Photo Credits: Photos by Francesco Visconti except Juliet’s Balcony by Jeroen Van Luin
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Summer in Copenhagen is a time for the locals to come out and enjoy the short but sweet Scandinavian summer beside the water, whether it’s the harbour, the beach or the Copenhagen lakes. Although I’ve been to Copenhagen a number of times with Guy, this time I wanted to show one of my favourite cities off to my kids, so I was on the look-out for those Scandi-cool things that would impress a hard to please teenager. Here is my guide to the cool things we enjoyed on our 4 day summer break in Copenhagen;
1. Rent an apartment and live like a local
Yes I know that ‘live like a local’ tag is overused by every apartment rental company, but hiring an apartment in the centre of Copenhagen through Airbnb really did give us a different perspective on the Danish way of life. Filled with books, quirky art and kids’ toys our apartment felt like the owners had just popped out for the day – which in fact they more or less had. The family who lived here had temporarily re-located to their summer house further up the coast to make the most of the sunny summer days and being laid back Danes had left most of their belongings behind, trusting us to take good care of their home. Hiring an apartment meant that we could shop at the local supermarkets dotted around town and nod a Danish “Hej” to our neighbours as we parked our bikes in the internal courtyard and lugged our shopping up to the 2nd floor. The kids thought the apartment was super-cool, especially the table football which led to many fiercely contested world cup replays. This is the apartment we booked in case you’re interested.
2. Hire bikes to get around town
On previous visits to Copenhagen we walked everywhere but with the family it made sense to hire bikes so we could get effortlessly around town. We hired ours just around the corner from our apartment (Gammelholm Cycler at 12 Holbergsgarde) and it cost 100 DKK (around £11/€14/ $18) per person per day with a bit of a discount as we were hiring for the whole family. Cycling around Copenhagen is easier and safer than in most other cities since there are separate cycle lanes everywhere and the car drivers are bike-aware and slow down to let you by.
You do still need to take care since local cyclists will whizz past you as you bimble along and at busy junctions we found it was safer to get off and cross at the pedestrian lights. In Copenhagen cyclists own the road and will get annoyed if you accidentally step into their path. They even take their kids in the Christiania style bikes that have a carriage on the front and have perfected the art of cycling nonchalently, talking on a mobile while wearing a flimsy dress and high heels. Did you know that you can also take your bike on the train in the special carriages that are marked with a bike symbol, which makes sense if you head out of Copenhagen on the coastal train to Helsingor, Klampenborg or any of the other interesting things to see along this route? My kids effortlessly got into the bike vibe and really enjoyed the freedom of the city.
3. Go swimming in the harbour
The harbour baths at Islands Brygge are justifiably popular as soon as the sun comes out and you do have to trust that the harbour water really is THAT clean (there is an oyster farm in the harbour after all!). There’s a shallow kid’s paddling pool, a longer pool for serious swimmers (spot those training for a triathlon) and a high jumping off point which my kids tested out multiple times. It’s free, open to all and there are lifeguards on duty, but if it gets a bit too crowded, remember that there are plenty of other unofficial places that you can swim in the harbour in summer. Just look for a stretch of harbour wall where there’s a ladder and not too many boats and you’ll probably see a local already having a dip. Our favourite spot was the stretch of harbour near our apartment between Nyhaven and the harbour bridge near the Parliament building where there’s a deck at the bridge end and plenty of benches and tables to sit out. Perfect if you want to bring your own beers and have an evening swim while the sun is setting. The Havnebadet Islands Brygge is open 7am-8pm 1 June-31 August.
4. Rides and more at Tivoli
Tivoli is a Copenhagen institution where you could take your granny or your teenagers and they’d all find something to enjoy (although probably not the same things). The gardens and fountains were beautiful, with roses blooming in the sunken garden and plenty of grassy areas where you can let the kids run around or sit on the grass. There are just enough rides to keep the adrenalin junkies entertained and although I braved The Demon loop the loop with the kids I enjoyed the old fashioned Alpine themed roller coaster much more. There are endless restaurants and food kiosks within Tivoli but I love that you can also bring in your own snacks or picnic and enjoy them in a shady area of grass under the trees.
We bought the PULS package bookable in advance for 329 DKK per person (£35/ €44/ $59) which gave us entrance to the park, a multi-ride pass and a snack and drink from one of the fast food vendors. As night falls the park takes on a more adult feel with glowing Chinese lanterns and people enjoying dinner with outdoor musical, pantomime or ballet performances in the different theatres. Best of all Tivoli has a high quality Danish feel and a lovely relaxed atmosphere that appeals to all ages. Tivoli Gardens are open April-end September and also at Halloween and Christmas. Entrance 99 DKK, Multiride ticket 199 DKK with other packages available.
5. A gourmet bite to eat at Torverhallerne
When I stayed nearby at the Ibsens Hotel a couple of years ago, the Torverhallerne market halls were under construction but now they are a buzzing place to stop and buy fresh food and deli-delicious lunch-time delicacies. The outdoor paved areas around the hall are full of fruit and veg stalls with benches and tables to sit down, while most of the food vendors inside also have some seating space. Guy and I tried a lunch of smorrebrod, the Danish open sandwich, served at the bar of Hallernes Smorrebrod on Royal Copenhagen plates. The kids eyed up the Thai food trailer outside but settled for sandwiches made with nutty Danish brown bread and we finished up with coffee at the legendary Coffee Collective and a strawberry tart from Laura’s Bakery opposite. If you prefer to pick up a picnic there are stalls selling artizan bread and cheeses or deli stalls selling different salads and dips, then head for the nearby Botanic garden or the Kings Garden to stretch out on the grass. Torverhallerne is between Frederiksborgadde and Vendersgade close to Norreport Station and is open 10am-7pm most weekdays with slightly shorter hours at weekends.
6. A picnic in the Kings Garden
And spreaking of the Kings Garden or Kongens Have, this is where locals like to go in summertime to laze on the grass in the shade of the trees. In the centre there’s a romantic formal garden while on one side of the moat from the Rosenborg Castle there’s the rose garden which in summer blooms with scented roses and lavender, watched over by a statue of Queen Caroline Amalia. Ok, so the rose garden is more likely to delight your mother than your teenagers, but the Danish Crown Jewels in the Treasury of Rosenborg Slot are pretty impressive too. The Rosenborg Castle is also delightful if you enjoy a walk through Danish history but the Treasury really is packed with jewels and despite the soldiers on guard outside, it feels pretty laid back despite the considerable bling on display. The Kings Garden is free entry, the Rosenborg Castle and Treasury is open 10am-4pm (closes 5pm in summer) and costs 90 DKK to visit (children up to age 17 free)
7. A smoothie on the deck by the Copenhagen lakes
From the Kings Garden it’s a short bike ride to the Copenhagen Lakes, the stretch of water that snakes through the centre of Copenhagen and borders the residential neighbourhoods of Norrebro and Frederiksberg. We met my new blogging friend and Copenhagen expert Alex Berger from VirtualWayfarer for a coffee at the floating deck of KaffeSalonen where you can drink a smoothie or coffee or hire a brightly coloured or swan shaped pedalo to get out on the water. Alex advised me that the lakes are not quite as clean as the harbour, so best not to swim, but it’s a fabulous spot to relax overlooking the water. There are paths to walk or jog that run beside the lakes and benches to sit down and admire the view plus you could also try the Den Frankse Cafe or Cafe 22 as an alternative to KaffeSalonen.
8. Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island
This new food venue on Paper island opened in April just along from the Royal Opera House in a large warehouse that’s filled with street food stalls and trailers and a stretch of harbour front lined with deck chairs and benches to sit outside. It’s a cool place to gather with friends on a sumer evening with DJ sounds, overlooking the harbour to catch the last rays of the sun with a beer in hand. The concept is to give small food vendors a place to do business, offering great food at reasonable prices, where you can get a snack from around 50 DKK. When we visited for a Friday night street-food-fest, we loved the atmosphere but I felt the food vision hadn’t quite been realised, with some vendors seeming a bit overwhelmed by the popularity of the place.
The pulled pork wrap I tried was outstanding, but required a 25 minute wait once my name had been added to their list – not quite fast food! The pizza slice I had in the meantime was burnt on the bottom and couple of other stalls had closed early or run out of food, but my kids enjoyed their spicy chicken stew from the Cuban stall. If you adjust your foodie expectations and don’t expect a gourmet experience just yet, Copenhagen Street Food gets a big tick as a cool place to chill with a bucket of beer overlooking the harbour. Copenhagen Street Food can be reached on the waterbus from Nyhaven to the Opera House and is open 12am-10pm for food and from 10am to late for coffee and drinks.
9. Modern art by the sea at Louisiana
Louisiana modern art museum is well worth the 30 minute train ride from central Copenhagen at any time of year but in summertime it offers the perfect day out for those who enjoy art in a natural setting overlooking the sea. The original seaside villa has been enlarged with purpose built galleries housing changing exhibitions of art and sculpture. When we were there, there was a colourful Emil Nolde exhibition plus a sureal collection of paintings by American artist Philip Guston as well as modern art by some of the big names such as Giacometti and Danish painter Asger Jorn.
The gallery is surrounded by lawns and trees dotted with sculptures by Henry Moore and others, overlooking the sea. The large cafe serves excellent smorresbrod, pretty cakes and a lunchtime or dinner buffet with tables inside and outside or you can just bring your picnic and find a grassy spot overlooking the sound. When you’re done with the art, leave through the gate at the bottom of the hill and go for a swim off one of the jetties along the stretch of beach and shingle outside, my idea of a perfect artistic summer’s day. Louisiana is also magical in the evening when it’s open until 10pm Tuesday to Friday.
To get to Louisiana we took the coastal train from Norreport station in the direction of Helsingor and got off at Humlebaek station, then you can walk 15 mins or take a short bus ride down the road following the signs to get to Louisiana or alternatively take your bike on the train as we did with a 5 minute cycle at the other end.
10. Have a drink by the harbour as the sun goes down
The Copenhageners love to make the most of the short Scandinavian summer by spending as much of it outdoors as possible and we enjoyed warm summer evenings on our holiday just sitting by the harbour with a sundowner. Close to our apartment we found the deck of the Royal Danish Theatre at the end of Nyhaven had set up an outdoor summer cafe with a DJ to welcome the weekend. From here we could watch the lights come up in the Opera House opposite and the harbour buses going back and forth. Being delightfully democratic Denmark there are plenty of places like this along the harbour where you can just sit and enjoy a summer sunset, such as the deck by the ‘Black Diamond’ Royal Library or the Toldboden cafe near the Little Mermaid, but if you prefer you can bring your own wine or beers and find a place to sit along the harbour for the sunset.
More cool things to do in Copenhagen
Cool places to stay in Copenhagen
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Our journey through Swansea in search of the celebrated Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, had brought us past the pubs where he drank, past his school and finally to Cwmdonkin Park where he played as a boy. (At this point you may want to read Part 1 of this story in which we visit the Dylan Thomas Centre and walk the city streets listening to Return Journey, Dylan’s account of the pre-war Swansea he knew.)
The reservoir in the park, where the swans once glided is now a flat stretch of grass with a children’s playground at one end, but I imagine that the bowling green and pavilion looks much as they did in Dylan’s childhood. After the Return Journey performance we stopped at the cafe, which serves home-made lemonade and ice cream, although we stuck to the tea and Welsh cakes. From here it was just a stroll across the park to our next destination in the search for Dylan Thomas, at the house where he was born, 5 Cwmdonkin Drive.
The Dylan Thomas birthplace has been restored and is open to the public, not so much as a museum but as a recreation of the Thomas family home, as if they had just stepped out leaving us to peep into their domestic arrangements. You can even stay in the house, entertained by books, games and an old gramophone player, but you’ll have to do without the flat screen TV although thankfully there is central heating. We had arranged to meet the owner and curator of the Dylan Thomas Birthplace, Geoff Haden, who kindly gave us a personal tour of the house.
The Thomas family bought 5 Cwmdonkin Drive in August 1914 when it was newly built and Dylan was born in the upstairs front bedroom in the October of that year. It was the sort of house that a bank manager or doctor might have owned and fitted with the aspirations of DJ Thomas who had hoped for higher things than a school master of the grammar school. The house cost £500 and Mrs Thomas was able to contribute £150 that she had inherited from her father.
Dylan’s mother Florence was keen to have a modern house with mains drainage to provide a healthy home for her children, 8 year old Nancy and new baby Dylan and the bathroom with plumbing and separate upstairs lavatory would have been considered very genteel at the time. The Thomas family lived at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive for 23 years and when they retired to Laugharne they were able to rent it out to provide some additional income. After the house was sold, it was over the years a family home, student bedsits and was leased by Swansea Council who eventually gave it up to concentrate on developing the Dylan Thomas Centre in the Marina.
Geoff told me how he was passing one day and knocked on the door, “This was the birthplace of the most famous person in Wales and yet it was a student bedsit, and if you were looking for a student house this would be number 10 on your list”. When the council gave up the lease in 2004, Geoff decided to take it over and using his experience as a structural engineer, spent 3 years restoring the house to the condition it might have been when Dylan Thomas was born there in 2014.
In order to bring it back to the appearance of Dylan’s childhood, Geoff enlisted the help of the Thomas family’s former maid Emily, who was just 15, about the same age as Dylan, when she worked there. She had a very happy time working for the family and kept in touch with them after she left their employment to get married. She told stories of having mock fights with Dylan, armed with a fly-swatter and since she was about the same size, was the model for pullovers that his mother knitted for him.
Since the Thomas family left 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, little had been done to modernise the house, so Geoff was able to restore many of the original features. The original paintwork was discovered under layers of wallpaper and colour schemes were recreated with Emily’s help and through reference to letters and stories that Dylan had written. The dark green walls and deep red William Morris curtains of the front sitting room that was only used for ‘best’ recalled the Victorian era and would have been typical of a conservative family of the period.
Dylan features the sitting room in the scene from “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” in which the fat uncles snore in front of the fire after the Christmas Day lunch. Geoff managed to find all the furniture from within 20 miles of the house, from car boot sales, auctions and house clearances, since few people want the kind of furniture their grandparents used.
The front of the house looks towards Cwmdonkin Park and young Dylan would jump over the fence into the field and take a short-cut into the park. We moved upstairs to look at Dylan’s bedroom, which he joked was so small that he had to go outside to think. The single bed along the wall was wedged up against the fireplace, making it unusable, with a small desk in the corner with the pictures and posters that a teenage Dylan might have kept around him.
This is a recent addition and the result of extensive research by Matthew Hughes who covers marketing for the house as well as conducting tours. I felt touched that the messy desk with posters covering every spare wall-space reminded me of my own teenage son’s bedroom (minus the beer and cigarettes). Here was Shakespeare next to Greta Garbo, a bottle of Hancock’s Mild Ale and a packet of Woodbines on the table sharing space on the crowded desk with his notebooks and a copy of the Koran given by his friend Daniel Jones. His tweed jacket and checked shirt were thrown over the back of the chair, with a copy of the Telegraph that his mother would bring him with breakfast in bed.
This is where Dylan would have written most of his poems until he left home at the age of 20, including his first book “18 Poems” which was published in 1934. Dylan was doted on by his mother, Florence and perhaps it’s no coincidence that the year his parents moved out of 5 Cwmdonkin Drive was also the year he married his wife Caitlin, replacing the Cwtch (a Welsh word meaning cosy, warm and secure) of his family home with a wife to look after him.
Next door, older sister Nancy’s room was decorated in Edwardian style of pale yellow with tiny floral curtains, Welsh blankets and eiderdowns on the beds. It brought back memories of staying at my own grandparents as a little girl, snuggling up in a big bed with my sisters, in a house with no central heating. Geoff said that many of his visitors feel moved by childhood memories when they visit the house.
When Prince Charles came to visit, he couldn’t help stroking the quilted floral eiderdown too, saying it reminded him of his own grandmother’s house. “It took me a moment to realise that he was talking about the Queen Mother” Geoff told me. In the back bedroom, where Dylan’s parents slept, Geoff had opened up the side window that had been bricked up after bomb damage during the war.
From here Dylan could look down the hill towards “the misty sea where ships sailed across the rooftops” and in an early poem he talks of “Leaning from windows over a length of lawns, on tumbling hills admiring the sea.” In DJ Thomas’ downstairs study, Geoff played us a video introduction about the house that President Jimmy Carter, a longtime fan of Dylan Thomas, had recorded when Geoff travelled to visit him in Atlanta. At the back of the house, the kitchen had been restored with its pantries and cupboards, although a modern cooker has been installed as a concession for guests staying in the house.
Beyond is a small garden which Dylan described as “sufficiently large for a wash-house, clothes line, deck-chair, and three sparrows”. He uses it as a scene from his short story “Patricia, Edith and Arnold” in which two maids gossiping over the wall in the back garden discover they are both being courted by the same man, who they go to confront in Cwmdonkin Park.
By the end of our tour of 5 Cwmdonkin Drive we’d had a fascinating insight into Dylan Thomas’ family life in Swansea where he wrote two thirds of his published work. Those who met him often commented on how polite and well mannered he was, a result of his loving and stable middle-class upbringing. While he loved to mix with all classes in the pub and in London he lived the Bohemian lifestyle, he was essentially that Grammar School boy and his time in Swansea was one of the most creative in his life.
Visitor Information: You can visit the Dylan Thomas Birthplace at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands, Swansea for a guided tour at 11am, 1pm, 3pm but it’s best to ring ahead to confirm as the house sometimes has guests or is used for events. Price £8. If you are passing the house there is an information notice and you can always ring the phone number to check if you can have a tour. The house can also be booked for overnight stays from £150 and there are regular events such as Dinner with Dylan that are ideal for group visits.
Articles and Videos about the house:
Video about 5 Cwmdonkin Drive with music from Osian Guardian article: House of the rhyming son
South Wales Evening Post: Jimmy Carter records a special message for Dylan Thomas fans
BBC News article: Dylan Thomas’ Swansea Childhood bedroom opens
Swansea’s Maritime Quarter
Geoff kindly gave us a lift back to the Dylan Thomas Centre and Maritime Quarter where we had a final hour or two enjoying the afternoon sunshine. On Saturday afternoon the locals were out in force, strolling around standing in the sun with pints in hand and we joined them sunning ourselves in the cafe of the National Waterfront Museum with tables outside overlooking the Marina. I noticed the Dylan Thomas Theatre nearby with murals of many of his characters on the outside, including blind Captain Cat from Under Milkwood.
Dylan was a keen amateur actor, performing with the Swansea Little Theatre who rehearsed in Mumbles, although Dylan was often distracted by the refreshment offered by the local pubs. I also spotted the statue of Dylan Thomas by John Doubleday and elbowed away drinkers from the nearby pub who were using it to rest their pints, so that I could have my photo taken with Dylan.
By the end of our day in Swansea I was entranced by the stories of the city’s most celebrated poet and felt I had glimpsed the childhood stories behind his work. Swansea may not be the prettiest of towns, but if you’re a Dylan Thomas fan it’s definitely worth a visit to soak up the places and people that inspired him.
Read Part 1 of this story, in which we spend the morning visiting the Dylan Thomas Centre and follow the Promenade Performance of Return Journey, stopping at all the places that Dylan Thomas knew. Coming up next on the Dylan Thomas trail … our visit to Laugharne, the pretty village in Carmarthanshire where Dylan Thomas lived with his family in the last few years of his life.
For more information about Dylan Thomas on the official Dylan Thomas Website and about the events happening for the Dylan Thomas centenary year on the Dylan Thomas 100 website. For more information about things to do in and around Swansea including the Dylan Thomas attractions visit the Visit Swansea Bay website
Our thanks to Visit Wales who hosted our weekend in Wales discovering Dylan Thomas
All my articles about Dylan Thomas
An ugly lovely town Part 1 – a Return Journey to Swansea with Dylan Thomas
An ugly lovely Town Part 2 – the Dylan Thomas birthplace in Swansea
Lovely Laugharne – on the Dylan Thomas Trail in South Wales
We stayed at Morgans Hotel in Swansea
While in Swansea we stayed at Morgans Hotel, that has been converted from the Harbour Trust Office. The building was completed in 1902 and is a grand reflection of the confident Edwardian era when Britain ruled the waves and Swansea was a great port and industrial powerhouse, known as “Copperopolis” due to the large amount of Copper smelted there. Our large corner bedroom looked as if it had once been an executive office with high ceilings and plaster mouldings and was named Sketty Belle after one of the Swansea ships of the period. Heavy mahogany doors and arched windows were complemented by a pale green colour scheme with cream brocade curtains.
The bedroom was well equiped with fridge, kettle and trouser press and an enormous dark wood TV stand. The bathroom was full of marble and limestone, with a brilliant rainforest shower over the bath, although the glass shower screens made it a bit awkward to lie down in the bath. Lots of nice Molton Brown toiletries made us feel very pampered. Downstairs at the entrance was a very stylish bar area with leather sofas, ideal for a cocktail or pre-dinner drink. The restaurant upstairs where we had breakfast was in a magnificent room, formerly the banking hall of the Harbour Port Office, with original maritime mural over the entrance and copper globe lamps which recalled Swansea’s industrial heyday. I’d highly recommend Morgans Hotel as a place to stay if you’re looking for a luxurious hotel as a base for exploring Swansea and the Dylan Thomas trail.
Morgans Hotel, Somerset Place, Swansea, SA1 1RR. Book online or phone 01792 484848. The Sketty Belle room £175 per night, other rooms from £125 or from £90 in the adjoining townhouse
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