Wonders of Wales

From bringing the car to Wales to insurance for seniors going to the US, Joan Scales answers your travel questions

From bringing the car to Wales to insurance for seniors going to the US, Joan Scalesanswers your travel questions

Taking the car to Wales

We are planning to take a trip to Wales in mid-February for six to seven days. We would like to go by ferry and bring the car. We have never taken the car on trips abroad before. We would like to drive around, visit some scenic and historic places, attend some cultural events and stay in reasonably priced accommodation. We would be interested in some organised trips also, if available. What would you advise?

AM, Limerick


Wales is a beautiful country and worth exploring but you may not see its full beauty in February. There are many sights of interest and I think the best way for you to explore the country is to travel from Dublin to Holyhead and from Fishguard or Pembroke back to Rosslare. This way you can drive all the way down through the country taking in the sights. Both Irish Ferries and Stena Line operate car ferries to north and south Wales.

There are many ancient castles in Wales, and I think you would find it interesting to see some on your trip. Try not to miss Conwy, Caernarfon or Narberth. There is a good personal website to the castles of Wales that is worth a look, castlewales.com.

The drive through Snowdonia National Park is surrounded by high peaks, slate mountains and deep lakes. The town of Betws-y-Coed is very pretty and a popular place for hillwalking. A stopover here would be nice.

A visit to Llangollen merits a look at Plas Newydd, the home of the Ladies of Llangollen who were two Anglo-Irish women who scandalised Georgian society by running away and setting up home together. It is a great treasure trove of literary links and cultures, and is under the care of the UK’s National Trust, nationaltrust.org.uk.

Also in north Wales is the fantastical Portmeirion village, the design of the architect Clough Williams-Ellis and a mishmash of architectural styles. The cult television series The Prisoner was filmed here. There is hotel and self-catering accommodation to rent here, portmeirion-village.com.

Wales also has an abundance of gardens, many in trust for the public. Bodnant and Aberglasney are two particularly good ones. See the Royal Horticultural Society for details, rhs.org.uk.

The National Botanic Gardens of Wales are in Carmarthan and a lot of it is under glass. So a wet weather day visit is possible, gardenofwales.org.uk.

The city of Cardiff has been transformed in recent years with lots of urban renewal and inner city development. The city is worth an overnight or two and there is a good selection of reasonably priced accommodation.

On you way back to the ferry leave some time to explore the Pembroke coast – Tenby Sands is a particularly nice stretch of beach. You will find details of where to book accommodation, upcoming events and activity on visitwales.co.uk.

Cover for silver visitor to US

I am over 65 (66 in February) and need to visit relatives in the United States of America for a month or more in January. My problem is that I have glaucoma (which is under control) but recently had surgery for a detached retina. Have you any advice, please, on how to get appropriate insurance cover for my stay in the US? I know no one will cover existing conditions but how about for everything else?

DR, Cork

You will be able to get travel and health insurance cover and I think you will find cleartotravel.com can help.

The company specialises in people who have pre-existing medical conditions or who have not been able to get insurance elsewhere. You can call them on 0818 286 520 or see cleartotravel.com.

Nice price hotels in Tokyo

My wife and I have booked our flights to Tokyo for travel next February for 10 nights. We have no accommodation booked as yet. We plan to spend three to four nights in Tokyo on arrival, plus our last night near Narita Airport for our onward journey. Where can you recommend we stay in Tokyo, reasonably central and decent accommodation without paying through the roof?

We would like to visit Hiroshima and on our way back to Tokyo take in Kyoto. We plan to travel to these cities by fast train. Can you advise on our best option in this respect? Any day trips in and out of Tokyo would also be very helpful?

BC, Galway

A self-guided tour of Japan will be interesting and I think a visit to the experts will be of huge benefit to planning your trip. Japan Ireland Travel is a specialist company and can help you book hotels, get rail passes in advance, plan a route and suggest itineraries and events.

It also provides an essential travel pack for travellers with local and area maps, directions to accommodation and places of interest, train times, emergency contact numbers, useful Japanese phrases and recommended restaurants.

You can contact them on 01-6787009 or see japanirelandtravel.com.

E-mail questions, with your name and address, to jscales@irishtimes.com