Swansea Travel Guide
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November in the Northern Hemisphere tends to signal the beginning of the season for "inside sports", foremost among these being things that involve drinking and wordplay. How appropriate, then, that this week finds us smack dab in the middle of a tribute to poet/drunk Dylan Thomas in his native city of Swansea, Wales.
The Dylan Thomas Festival runs from October 27th to November 9th, the days of the poet's birth and death, respectively. The festivities include film screenings, readings, concerts and a general excuse for celebrities of a literary bent to gather in a really Welsh city. Exercise your liver and pack a sweater as that November in Wales tends to be rather wet, damp and gray. Inside sports, folks.
And before you remind us it's a little late for a trip to Wales, fear not. Thomas' memory can still be appropriately toasted at the site of his death, Manhattan's White Horse Tavern in the West Village. Legend has it that Thomas lost a drinking contest to the jealous husband of his lover at the White Horse and later died from the experience. Be sure to enjoy your poetic nostalgia in moderation.
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This Sunday is Escape Into the Park, Swansea's annual orgy of dance and live music. The event is going to be ridiculous - when one of the stage areas is described as "an intensive hard house arena," that's pretty safe to say. So while you'll be spending your day drinking, sweating, and who knows what else with thousands of people, take a peek at our advice on how to chill out and recuperate the rest of the time in town.
Where to Stay
Sure, you can camp, but sometimes a shower is necessary. Go with the Dragon Hotel (The Kingsway) to contrast the down-and-dirty festival atmosphere with a bit of spotless comfort. If you're feeling especially worn out, hop over to the spa and ask for the "Spoil Me" package - it does just that.
Where to Eat
After stuffing yourself full of fried festival food, dust yourself off for dinner at the Fairyhill Restaurant (Reynoldston, Gower). Not only is their wine list strong, but they also make excellent and creative use of local ingredients. Try the Welsh black beef.
Where to Drink
If you feel you need to drink more after 12 straight hours of alcohol consumption and general dehydration, forgive us for this corruption of Dylan Thomas's work and do not go gently into that good night, but rather, rage, rage against sleep at the No Sign Wine Bar (56 Wind Street). Thomas, a Swansea native, frequented the spot in the 30's, and despite its fame and the changing neighborhood, the No Sign remains a good, genuine spot for a drink.
[Photo: Glen Bowman]