The Great British Surprise

Take a moment to reflect on your first time arriving in a new destination. The sounds, the smell of the local foods, the thrill and excitement of everything being new and never before experienced. 

A perfect way to describe how it felt when I was invited on a rather unpredictable journey to discover Great Britain on the Great British Surprise.

Destination: Great Britain, UK Location: To be assigned…

The craziest, yet most intriguing part of this trip was not knowing where I was heading or what to expect in a destination I’d never before travelled! The exact locations I would be visiting were to be kept a surprise for my arrival. This being my first time visiting the UK I was very eager to cover a new area of the map.

I packed my bags, ready and armed with 50 rain jackets and several gumboots. In my mind I’d pictured Britain to be one giant puddle with overcast weather, green surrounds and of course.. rain! I boarded a 23hr flight to London and was on my way to the UK!

Touching down in London I immediately made my way towards the city. I first noticed the level of architecture in all of the suburban homes and buildings along the way; each one held so much unique character and heritage. I was surprised by the amount of people roaming the city centre, it was very busy and after a long flight I was desperate for sleep. I made it all the way to Victoria station so close to my hotel, only then did I discover I’d made a massive mistake.

I noticed a strange tag on my bag that hadn’t been there earlier, then it clicked.. did I grab the wrong luggage?
Yep folks, I’d managed to collected someone else’s bag from the carousel! So a slight change of plans I re-boarded the 30 minute train back to the airport, was escorted back through customs where my bag was luckily waiting for me and a valuable lesson learnt.

After the frustrating exchange I arrived at Victoria station for a second time and hailed a cab to my hotel. I was greeted by the friendliest London born local, he was a massive help and so funny! He was also passionate about photography and shared some of his photos with me. It soon became a great start to the trip.

In the hotel room I discover an envelope sitting on the bed. Inside this letter would be the first location on my adventure discovering Great Britain. A unique aspect of this trip was how interactive it was and that everyone was encouraged to get involved in all of the surprises to come! The following day I opened the envelope to reveal my first mystery location. Inside the card read: ‘Cardiff, Pembrokeshire coast.’

That morning I met with fellow travel influencer and London local, @postcardsbyhannah and we were off to Wales!

We arrived in Cardiff after a 3 hour train ride. It was like stepping into another world. I was surrounded by gigantic castles and narrow arcade alleyways that were lined with small boutiques and cafes. Everything was beautiful, historical and so well-kept. Along the way we were hosted in some pretty amazing accommodation, first of which was the brand new Hotel Indigo in Cardiff. Each hotel room was articulately themed to capture the essence of Wales, Welsh industry and music. I was placed in an Welsh industrial room which featured rustic interior, and modern stylish pendant lights.

Cardiff was beyond wonderful to explore. If you’re seeking a destination that is rich with medieval culture, amazing food and friendly locals then this is the place to be. 

The following day we enjoyed a delicious plant based breakfast at Anna-loka, home to some of the best pancakes I had ever tasted! I then posted a Poll on Instagram for viewers to decide where we would adventure to next! This was exciting as we had absolutely no control over the final decision. 

The two options were: Castle Coch and Driffryn Gardens.

Upon reviewing the poll later that day, the votes were in and a decision was made. We were off to Castle Coch!

Castle Coch was built above the village of Tongwynlais in Southern Wales. The Normans built and designed this as a Gothic revival castle in the 19th Century. 

Unfortunately with History comes ruin.. and due to scaffolding undergoing repairs we decided last minute to change locations to Caerphilly Castle.

Caerphilly was like nothing I’d experienced before. I was amazed at the structure and how it was still standing! Being a much older 13th Century Castle it held so much historic value and is the second largest castle in Britain. Many iconic films/series had featured Caerphilly, one of the most popular being Dr Who! 

After a fun day of exploring Castles it was time to treat ourselves with a drink at Gin & Juice in Cardiff. Featuring over 10 pages of local and imported Gin the decisions were endless! We indulged with the most amazing gin based cocktails before hitting the town to experience some local street food. 

A tiny pizzeria in a small laneway was the perfect place to unwind, I posted a second live poll to decide where my adventure discovering Great Britain would take me next!

The two locations: Tenby and Mumbles.

Drumroll please.. with a unanimous vote we were heading to Tenby

The following morning we were greeted at our hotel by a local driver named Rob. Rob was born and raised in Whales and shared a wealth of local knowledge offering to take us to a few hidden gems situated in the Pembrokeshire National Park. We were very fortunate to experience one of Wales best keeps secrets, a hidden rock Chapel built into the cliffside! The Pembroke Coastline had to be one of the most unforgettable moments during my time discovering Great Britain.

As we approached the small harbour town of Tenby we were greeted with some unpredictable weather.  

Upon arriving at Tenby resort I noticed these amazing multi-coloured buildings scattered along the shoreline. As we ventured into town I noticed beautiful canals which were tucked in-between the buildings. Known for its 13th-century town walls and its stretches of sandy shoreline Tenby is also home to Castle Beach where you’ll find ruins of Tenby Castle on a headland overlooking the harbour. 

Although our visit was short Tenby wasn’t what I was expecting and perfectly complemented the diversity Great Britain has to offer. 

On our way to St David’s we were welcomed to the Twr Y Felin hotel, the #1 hotel in Wales! Each room designed for royalty with plush interiors and beautiful modern meets luxe decor.

Just as I thought it was time to relax we were off to a new destination! Our driver and new friend Rob had more adventures planned so we were off to explore the rugged coast of Pembrokeshire. 

The first stop would be Strumble head lighthouse. The lighthouse was erected in 1908, but the first proposal to build a lighthouse here was made in 1825. The circular stone tower is 55 ft high and still contains the original lantern complete with fresnel lens!

 We then drove back up the coast and rob was showing me all the hidden gems along the rugged coastline. The blue lagoon was my favourite!

After a long and rainy day of exploring it was time to head back to our Hotel Twr Y Felin. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in the restaurant prepared by hotel chefs to celebrate our final night in Wales.

Great Britain you certainly are one of the worlds most Enchanting hidden gems. Your authentic scenery is like no other, with detailed structures holding so many wonderful tales that go back Centuries.

Such a storybook adventure with so many memories made and much more to discover, till next time!

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