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Even as we celebrate St. David's Day, some of us are starting to 'Think Spring' - and if the Hay Festival and the Wye Valley are in your thoughts it's time to start planning! We've got some great travel deals that may help. Can't wait? Then enter for your chance to win one of five copies of the beautiful "Visions of Wales" DVD. Read on and enjoy. Croeso - Welcome to Wales.

Greetings from Claire
Your Wales Story
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A Word Please
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GREETINGS:  Welcome to the first edition of Croeso! for 2006. If you're like me, you probably find it difficult to believe that we are already two months into the year. Spring is just around the corner and the long dark days of winter will soon be behind us. In this edition of the newsletter we're looking forward to Spring in Wales - a time when the gardens are blooming with rhododendrons, magnolias, daffodils and many more colorful varieties; the countryside is alive with the bleating of new-born lambs; and festivals of all types from literature to food to choral, are to be found throughout the country.

Still stressed from the excesses of the holidays? Take advantage of great airfares to hop across the Atlantic and recharge your batteries by enjoying the leisurely pace of life in Wales. Even if you've only got a few days to spare you'll soon pick up on our way of doing things and be glad you visited.


We've given you some ideas here but for more inspiration and to learn more about what to see and do in Wales, please visit our newly updated website at www.travelwales.org.

Claire Goold
Wales Marketing USA,
Wales Tourist Board


YOUR WALES STORY:
Do you have a story to share about your visit to Wales? We'd love to hear it. And if it shows up in a future issue of Croeso we'll send you a $25 gift certificate as a token of our appreciation.

Tell us your story.

DESKTOP DOWNLOADS:

If you can't travel to Wales right now, maybe a bit of Wales can come to you. We've selected a few of our favorite spring images from our photo library and posted them on our website so that you can download them for free as desktop images on your computer (for Mac or PC). Enjoy! Click here to view and download pictures of Wales.


A WORD PLEASE: HWYL
Welsh is one of the oldest living languages in Europe and one of the most poetic. It's also very phonetic: it's pronounced just as it's written - once you get the hang of the consonants and diphthongs! For example, "hwyl" is an easy one. It's pronounced "hoooeel." What does it mean? Well, that's where the poetry comes in. We asked a few Welsh friends for their definitions:

•   "A sense of place from within the heart" -John W.
•   "Hwyl means fun. Hwyl fawr means have fun in a goodbye sense!! Literally, Big Fun!!" - Robert J.
•   "To me it means - Fun or Good Bye" - Alexandra M.


















Spotlight On: The Wye Valley

ASK ANYONE WHAT THEY KNOW about Wales and even the least informed among them is likely to say something about 'that little town with all the bookstores.' Indeed, with 39 bookshops in a town of only 1,300 residents, Hay-on-Wye is known worldwide as a major center of the second-hand book trade. From third printings of second-rate pulps to rare, signed first editions, Hay-on-Wye is a book lover's paradise.

And once a year it seems like every book lover in the world shows up. Started in 1988 by a few locals, the Hay Festival is now attended by upwards of 80,000 fans of culture and literature over 10 days in the late spring - the start of "festival season" in Wales. This year the festival takes place from May 26th to June 4th.

With all that activity you might be tempted to think that the Wye Valley is all about Hay-on-Wye, but there's so much more. Click to read on…>

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Travel to Wales: 3 days from $309

NOWADAYS LOTS OF PEOPLE LIKE TO take advantage of airline specials on their own, and with Wales so easy to reach via direct flights to international airports in London, Bristol and Manchester, it's easier than ever to do. If that's you, or if you already have a Britain trip in the works and want to add Wales to your itinerary, BMIT's "Wales Journey" package is right for you. Starting from only $299 per person, it includes 3 nights' hotel accommodations with breakfast, tax and service charges, plus a 4-day car rental with unlimited mileage.

For a complete air/land package consider booking the aptly named "Amazing Britain" package, also from BMIT. This package includes r/t air to London, a 6-day car rental with unlimited mileage and 5 nights in the B&B of your choice, including several in and around the Wye valley, as well as others throughout Wales. All starting from only $679 per person. Mention Croeso! and you'll also get free CDW coverage on the car rental - a $65 value!

But don't wait - these prices are only available for a limited time. To learn more and book your trip, contact BMIT by phoning 1-800-982-2299 or email them at info@bmit.com. Remember to tell them that you are a Croeso! subscriber.

TRAVELWALES.ORG: Be sure to visit our U.S. website for newly updated 2006 travel packages, offers and deals. We've also updated our events calendar with the latest goings on.

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Contests and Promotions: a vision to behold

CONGRATULATIONS TO ROBERT B. OF BEAVERTON OR, the Grand Prize winner in our "Great Things Come in Small Packages" sweepstakes. Robert chose the trip to Wales and will be traveling this spring. Congratulations as well to Jennifer K. and Cathy A. two out of our three lucky winners who won a copy of the beautiful photo book "Landscape Wales."

An extraordinary thing about Wales is how much variety is packed into such a small area. New vistas unfold around every bend in the road, and a journey of just a few dozen miles can bring you to an entirely new and distinct landscape. "Visions of Wales," now airing on public television, captures Wales' natural and manmade splendors with spectacular aerial footage accompanied by traditional music and informative narration.

Five Croeso! subscribers have a chance to win the "Visions of Wales" DVD. Just answer this question to be entered automatically:

When, if ever, were you last in Wales? Click here to answer.

View the official rules.

There's no wrong answer but you must be a Croeso! subscriber to enter.

Not a subscriber? No problem. Just sign up here and you'll also be automatically entered for a chance to win.

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Taste of Wales: celebrating st. david

On St. David's Day in Wales, all the daffodils are out. Young children go to school in traditional Welsh costume while older ones may have an 'Eisteddfod,' with competitions in singing, dancing and readings.

It's not an official holiday, but March 1st is a huge day of cultural celebration that sweeps the country, with a big parade in Cardiff and special Male Voice Choir concerts in towns and villages. Daffodils, the national flower, are planted in hanging flower baskets and along the streets , and are worn by Welsh people everywhere - they even appear on the lapels of Members of Parliament , who have their own St. David's day party in London.

St. David, or 'Dewi Sant' is, of course, the patron saint of Wales. He lived in the 6th century as a prophet, preacher and teacher, and taught a simple way of life, to do "the little things in God's presence with conscientiousness and devotion," that helped shape the character of the people of his time and, some feel, influences the culture to this day.

Many Welsh Societies in America have their own celebrations. In the true Welsh tradition, if you're in town on March 1st, you're sure to be welcome.

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