As I travel around the UK and Europe I find I generally enjoy every place I have been, which I am surprised more than anyone. I’m not sure if its because I am usually visiting new places, which I love, or if its because I have waited many years to visit Europe, and now I am in a position to see it via weekend trips. Either way, Cardiff was no different.
This trip was kind of a last minute deal as I had originally planned acoastal hike near Brighton, England. With those plans falling through, I figured Cardiff was a suitable replacement as its close and relatively cheap. Plus my father’s side of the family is from not very far to the west of Cardiff. I was not disappointed.
Cardiff is one of those sneaky great places. It doesn’t seem that desirable when you break it down: the weather isn’t exactly great; a lot of the jobs have moved overseas; and, its not exactly glamorous. However, I realised well that’s just like Michigan and for anyone who knows me, I am most definitely not a glamorous person. Also, as in most places, the people make the place, and the Welsh were great. Every time I opened my mouth, they wanted to know where I’m from, why I am there, and what my plans were. Of course, it didn’t hurt I mentioned my Welsh heritage.
While I was only there about 48 hours I tried to pack in as much as I could. I spent all of Saturday walking around the city. I stayed at an Airbnb in Atlantic Wharf, so walking into the city centre was easy and quick. I grabbed breakfast at a nice café in Wyndham Arcade, then spent the rest of the morning looking around the shopping centres. I never miss a chance to pay lower prices for clothes when I am outside London.
One nice thing about Cardiff is its size. It is by no means a small city, but its not so large as its tough to get around. After shopping I was able to swing by Cardiff Castle and Cardiff University to take a look around. I could not believe the beauty of the university. The statues, buildings and gardens were incredible. As for the castle, just an incredible piece of history in the middle of a modern city.
(Welsh National Assembly)
As an avid fan of most sports, I of course had to check out the local teams and stadiums. The Millennium Stadium (whose new name shall not be used) was more spectacular in person than on TV. I could have walked out of the team shop with three jerseys and more, but settled for a scarf instead. Growing up sucks. After that I went for an extended walk to the Cardiff City Stadium on the west wide of the city. It was a bit of a further walk than I anticipated, but nice nonetheless. One thing I do love about sports over here is the history. Each club, no matter how big, dates back decades, and even centuries.
After the football stadium I had to go see where the Cardiff Devils play. Ice hockey is a bit of a novelty over here, but seems to be gaining in popularity. The rink itself was very small, reminiscent more of the ones in neighbourhoods around the US and Canada, but that makes the atmosphere that much better. Unfortunately the team store was closed and I could not get any apparel, but I definitely want to come back for a game.
(Wales Millennium Centre)
I finished off my walkabout by heading south from the arena and followed the path back around to Atlantic Wharf. Cardiff Bay is completely closed off from the sea, through a series of locks. This allows the bay to remain fairly calm, which is great. I walked up past the Doctor Who Experience, which looked great but I do not know anything about the show, so I decided against it. I found an amazing coffee shop to take a break and get some food.
Just up the way was the Cardiff National Assembly building and the Opera House. I enjoyed both buildings, and thought the architects did an incredible job of creating modern buildings that also blended into the city’s look and appeal. While both buildings stood out, they did for the right reasons.
Upon returning to the Airbnb I hung out with the hosts, a Polish couple, and their friends, and then went out to a nightclub. While I am not a big nightclub person, and never have been, it was still fun to hangout with new people and do something I don’t normally do. And the people watching was incredible.
Sunday was spent recovering and just wandering around the city centre before grabbing my 2:15 pm train back to London. All in all I wish I had more time to see Cardiff and Wales. I was not able to make it out to see the ancestors village, as its in a bit of a difficult place to reach without a driver’s license. So I will definitely be back for more Welsh fun later this year!