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Published November 2nd 2016
Porthmadog: Gateway to Snowdonia
My inaugural venture to Porthmadog was on my first full day as a fresh-faced North Wales resident, and I was both excited and terrified in equal measure. I drove through various strange, unknown places, and desperately tried to memorise the road so that I might be able to find my way back to Harlech at some point.
Go away...we're full
On driving into Porthmadog that first time, I almost had a heart attack when I spotted smoke billowing above a high wall on my driver's side. My first thought was: 'OMGMASSIVEFIRE!!!' My second thought, after realising I was the only alarmed motorist, and briefly recalling a sign I'd passed a few hundred yards earlier, was 'Aaaaaaaah…steam train'. I wondered how many visitors have had a similar experience and have since decided it might well just be me.
Since the day of The Great Fire of Porthmadog That Turned Out Not to Be a Fire At All, I've been back to visit on numerous occasions. These trips quite often fall on a Sunday around breakfast time and usually involve the consumption of egg and sausage. Anyway, since I'm becoming more familiar with the town, I've experienced the following things that you should definitely take note of:
The very first native I spoke to was a Manger from Tesco. She spotted me taking iPhone photos of the Welsh language 'Beer and Wine' sign outside the store (I figured they might be words I needed to know…) and she immediately came over to ask if I was on holiday. I explained that I'd just moved from Scotland the day before and we had a lovely chat about all things Welsh and Scottish. If you want to get your shopping done quickly and don't want random strangers chatting to you about how lovely your home nation is and how they want to welcome you to Wales, I thoroughly recommend you stay away.
Charity Shopping: Porthmadog has a serious range of charity shops which are staffed by more of those strange, friendly people I was just talking about. They also have lots of high-quality goods, which will force you to part with your hard earned money. I spent a lot of time in FreshFields Animal Rescue on the High Street, and then gravitate towards most of the others once I'm done.
If you want to hang on to your cash and don't want to pick up that cream silk strapless numbers that is PERFECT for that wedding you're going to and is priced at a whole £3.99, then stay out. Honestly, why would you want to grab a fabulous bargain while supporting the work of local charities?? And, if you don't do it, that means there will be more stuff for me, doesn't it??
Cafes: If you need a coffee fix, as I regularly do, you will be thoroughly confused by the sheer number of independent coffee shops in Porthmadog. This conundrum will induce a terrible headache and you'll find that you'll be all stressed out before you even get NEAR any caffeine. It's ten times worse if you're also partial to tasty, homemade cakes. Therefore, it's probably easier if you stick to a Café in your own town and save yourself the nightmare of having to choose one in Port.
Who needs a welcome sign in TWO languages, anyway?
Walking Without Bumping Into Things: If you enjoy a walk and don't want to be annoyed by fabulous scenery, sparkling seas, a peaceful harbour full of pretty boats, outdoor seating where you can watch the world go by, a choice of gift shops, hotels, bars and an all round lovely atmosphere, you should definitely stay away. You can't walk two minutes in Porthmadog without spotting something to gape at. Honestly…it's so annoying.
so crowded and, well...just horrible
Steam Trains: If you prefer driving your car without endangering your life by gawping at The Welsh Highland Railway carriages gently steaming along the tracks by the side of the road, you absolutely should not visit.
Not only will you prolong your own life, but also that of your fellow road users and that would be the kindest thing to do, no? Nobody really want to see majestic steam trains anyway, do they? Certainly no one wants to actually get ON one and have it whisk them away to a place where they can forget their troubles and immerse themselves in glorious scenery. Those people are properly mental – don't be like them.
Isn't this the WORST?
If you want to maintain your current dress size (or fit into anything else you own) then stay well back from the ice cream. In addition to the Cadwaladers store, they also sell quality ice cream (and a range of other sweet goodies) in Magpie AND across the road outside the Woollen Mill. Your waistline will thank you for keeping your distance because it's seriously good stuff and you won't be able to resist. I'm only thinking of your health.
Do you have any favourite spots in Porthmadog that you'd like everyone else to avoid so that you can have them all to yourself?? Tell me and I promise I won't tell anyone else... honest.
Cadwalader' put stuff in their ice cream that makes you crave it on a daily basis...you don't need that in your life