Getting to Wales means knowing where to go to find out what you need to know. That’s IMG_0892especially true when you’re doing a multi-modal trip of plane, train, rental car and high-speed ferry.

We’re flying from New York to London, dallying there for a day or so, taking the train to Holyhead and then picking up a rental car. At the end of our four-day sojourn in Anglesey, we’ll take a high-speed ferry to Dublin. And, oh, yes, with all those coastal walks and Wales’ penchant for mists and damp, we need the right footgear, too!

For help in making plane and train schedules mesh as well as finding a picturesque place to stay, I turned to Paull Tickner, ofGreatdays Travel Group, who has a network of insiders across. When it came to figuring out itineraries, Robert Titley of Visit Wales came up with an itinerary that includes tea hikes (for my mother), dramatic coastal walks with crashing waves (for my 16-year-old), playgrounds (for my 10-year-old) and surfing beaches (for me). I booked our train through Rail Europeand can’t wait to see my Harry-Potter-loving ten-year-old on a real English train platform.AutoEurope has set me up with a rental car–even providing an after-hours pickup, since car rental offices in Holyhead close at 2 p.m. on Saturday and the train doesn’t get in unti 5:51 p.m. And, of course, they also provided me with a GPS. Should be invaluable for the many detours we intend to take. That is especially important, since we’ll be traveling without my husband, who loves these things called maps and compasses. I find them rather abstract myself and have to combine them with images from Google maps. Landmarks are what work for me.

IMG_0895

Literary landmarks are essential in preparing for a trip, I believe, and my Lonely Planet guidebook recommended Jan Morris’ “The Matter of Wales: Epic Views of a Small Country” to really help me immerse myself in Welsh sensibiities. It seems only available in England, these days, but Titley suggested visitingThe Strand Bookstore in New York. The Strand’s computers promised me that there was a copy of its shelves. Initially, however, it appeared to be a false promise. “I’m afraid it’s a phantom copy,'” the clerk regretfully informed me, a computer error. But as I poked through books about Irish kings and Scottish chieftains it suddenly materialized. I think there must have been a druid nearby.