Monday, 3 November 2014

Cardiff, Wales

For knowing nearly nothing about it until we got there, Cardiff was a great time. A couple of the cool things about it are that it's relatively cheap and almost everything is within walking distance. Now, I wouldn't recommend spending your long weekend there. But if you're looking to go to Wales on a weekend, Cardiff is perfect for a short break.

Where we stayed
The hostel we stayed at--Riverhouse Backpackers--is by far the best one I've stayed at in Europe so far. We stayed in a 6 person mixed dorm that was not only spacious but contained lockers in which every traveler could put his or her possessions. The hostel also offered free WiFi and breakfast, which was an array of toast and jams, cereals, yogurts, pastries, and more. Not to mention, the hosts were very sweet and accommodating. I give it a ten out of ten.

What we did
The Maze Runner
Another advantage of the hostel is that it is very centrally located. It actually turned to be about a two-minute walk from a movie theatre, which came in handy since it was raining pretty heavily when we arrived. We couldn't really do anything else in the rain and we weren't hungry yet, so we saw The Maze Runner (great movie, by the way). The theatre, Vue, was also pretty cheaply priced at £6.65 per student ticket.

After the movie we were pretty hungry, so we walked to this pub close to both the movie theatre and our hostel called O'Neill's. I got mac and cheese with grilled chicken in it that was absolutely delicious. Again, it was pretty cheap at just £6 for absolutely delicious food.

Arcades in Wales are not what the typical American pictures at the mention of the word. Rather than areas that house tons of games and sugar-crazed children, Arcades in Wales are beautiful indoor/outdoor shopping centers that are all somewhat close together. They house coffee shops and tearooms, your typical stores like H&M, high end stores, and some quirky ones as well. It's definitely worth at least a walk through a few of them. The ones we went to are the Morgan Arcade and the Queen's Arcade.

Bute Park
If you're looking for a nice place to relax after some shopping or just to have coffee and enjoy nature, Bute Park is a great place to do so. It's not as stunning as Amsterdam's Vondelpark or expansive as London's Hyde Park, but it's still a very relaxing and beautiful environment. We saw lots of families talking walks, people biking and running, having picnics, and just hanging out.

Cardiff Market
It's difficult to say how I feel about this market, since I'm kind of in love with London's sprawling and delicious Borough market. The Cardiff Market was still good, though, and again cheap. I got a full breakfast for just £3.50, and it was pretty good. Instead of food, though, the market primarily sells goods, which surprised me. Still, I would say it's worth a visit. Also, I'm still trying to figure out what a dish of faggots and peas is...

National Museum Cardiff
I'm not a big fan of museums, but this one was free and we were close to it, so we ended up checking it out. There are two sections to the museum: natural history and art. We spent the majority of our time there in the natural history section, which admittedly was pretty cool. The art section... Well, this was one of the exhibits:

If you're unsure of what you're looking at, that's ok. I was very unsure after watching it circle around the metal track for a full minute. Maybe I just don't get visual art…? But then again, maybe mechanical goats are the very highest form of art in Wales. Who knows?

The rest of our time in Cardiff we mainly spent walking around and stopping at little street markets. Again, I wouldn't recommend a long weekend there, but if you're looking to spend a little time in Wales, Cardiff is a good destination.

Sydney Rae Davis

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