There are some authors who capture the essence of a place and its people perfectly. In the case of Wales, that author was Dylan Thomas. The Welsh will celebrate the 100th birthday of this literary icon on Oct. 27, 2014, with a series of events and celebrations.
You don't have to visit for the centennial in order to enjoy several spots in the south of Wales that are dedicated to the memory of Dylan Thomas though, and collectively they make for an interesting travel trail.
This is the focal point for studies and events based around the author, but it's also a great place to check out exhibits and learn more about Thomas' life. Visitors can see rare photos of Thomas, learn more about the role the Swansea area played in his life and work and even hear him read some of his most memorable selections.
Laugharne (pronounced Larn) is a place Thomas lovingly referred to as "the strangest town in Wales." The Boathouse, where Thomas and his family lived from 1949 until his death in 1953 is now a museum, gallery and place to learn more about Thomas and his family while also enjoying tea and Welsh cakes in the tearoom or out on the balcony overlooking the Taf Estuary and the migratory birds that frequent it. The "writing shed," where Thomas produced some of his most famous works, including "Do Not Go Gentle" and "Under Milkwood," is also on display. Regardless of the significance to Thomas' life, the Boathouse area is simply a beautiful place to walk around and explore.
While in Laugharne, stop by Brown's Hotel, which is where Thomas could often be found enjoying a pint when he wasnt in his writing shed. There's still a pub on the ground floor, where you can order a pint or try Penderyn Whisky's special edition single malt Icons of Wales dedicated to Dylan. While there, why not spend the night? The building is full of history since it dates to 1752, but the 15 en-suite rooms, each with a unique name relating to Thomas' work, have a totally modern decor. Put your passion for writing and spirits together by checking out the Liquor, Literature and Laugharne package.
On his 30th birthday on Oct. 27, 1944, Dylan Thomas walked along the Taf Estuary and out to the shoulder of Sir John's Hill. His walk would lead to writing "Poem in October" about the scenery and his feelings about getting older. In an amazing series of coincidences, a farmer named Bob Stevens bought the land where Thomas had once walked, and as a fan of the poem, eventually figured out that Thomas had once trod the land he was now farming. Stevens has created the Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk, which is about 2 miles long. Stevens has placed interpretive signs and markers along the way, but there is also a smart-phone app that can be downloaded where you can actually hear Thomas read the poem as you are looking over the same landscape he describes. Show up on your own birthday with a driver's license or passport as proof, and you can get a number of free gifts or discounts throughout the town of Laugharne.
What city or country associated with a favorite author would you like to visit?
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Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin are hosts of The Travel Brigade Show - a weekly travel and destination podcast. Kathleen Curry is experienced in both the travel industry and broadcasting. She has worn the hats of travel writer, photographer, travel agent and hospitality evaluator. Her advice of, “No excuses, just travel!” reaches out to listeners who pick up on her enthusiasm for travel and benefit from her savvy advice. Her travel guilty pleasures are eating at a street-cart vendor so she can splurge later to order room service, finding deals to rack up sky miles so she can book her next flight and hoping her social security comes through some day because she has spent her future retirement savings trekking the globe.
Geoff Griffin is a reformed attorney turned travel junkie with over two decades of experience as a journalist and editor specializing in sports, outdoor recreation and travel. His current philosophy is that there are two stages in life - You’re either on a trip, or you’re planning your next trip. His travel guilty pleasure is trying recreation adventures that require the use of an expert guide to keep him from harming himself or hopping on a plane knowing nothing about his destination other than the airport code and wandering about a new town while relying on the locals to point him to the best places.
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