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You'll Have a Whale of a Good Time in Wales!

Sorry – my keyboard got excited and typed that before I could stop it! But yes, you can certainly have a fine adventure in Wales.

Some years ago, Wales was one of my first international adventures. It was part of a solo backpack tour in the British Isles. After beginning in England with London being the home-base for several out-and-about days, I moved on to Wales. After renting a car in the Cotswolds, (my first time driving on the left!) I made my way to Llangollen. Why Llangollen in particular? Well, I knew I wanted to go to Wales and straightaway in researching I came across the factoid that Pavarotti sang there in his younger years. Decision made; Llangollen it would be.

Llangollen charmed my days there – rural, rustic, beautiful. My home for those days was akin to a farm B&B, with wonderful breakfasts and a keen pub for evening relaxation. Three special scenes are strong in my memory.

My B&B coached me on the marked hiking trails in the vicinity. After pocketing my bag lunch for the day, I set-out on a hike of the hills. It took some huffing and puffing, but after a while I summitted one of the guardian hills overlooking the village. Lolling on the grass and munching lunch, cool clean breezes, and sun-filled views all made for a tranquil idleness.

Within local literature for the area’s sites and attractions, I came across “The Ladies of Llangollen”. No, not that type of ladies! Rather, something else - something historically renown, but unknown by me. And, you may visit Plas Newydd, their former home which is now opened to the public.

But for sure the most fulfilling and amazing experience for me was attending a rehearsal of the Fron Choir in a neighboring village. I had heard of the Wales appreciation of and allegiance to a tradition of male choir singing. It is intrinsic enough in the culture that most every village in the country has its male choir. In 1955, a 19 year old Luciano Pavarotti, along with his father, visited Llangollen with the male voice choir of their native Modena, Italy. Pavarotti later said that experience to be principle in his decision to become a professional singer.

So, I had written ahead to the Fron Choir asking if I might attend and watch a rehearsal an evening while in town, this being the choir that hosted the Modena Choir and the young Luciano years earlier. A cordial invitation quickly followed. My evening spent with the Fron Choir was one of the most warmly inspiring occasions of my musical life.

If you’ve not known of the tradition of the Wales male choir, then have a look here:

And hear them here:

And are there those in Wales keeping the tradition alive and vocal? Oh, yes. Have another look here:

While it may not emerge at the top of your British Isles travel wish-list, consider making your own Welsh travel memories!'>Travel photo created by wirestock -</a>

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