Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Month in Cardiff, Wales {Travel Tuesday}

The summer after my freshman year was the first time I'd ever ventured abroad.  It was my first plane ride.  My first time to be a leader in a place that I wasn't very familiar with. It was a lot of firsts for me.  The place that brought me to many of these firsts was Cardiff, Wales.  My first time to experience  a country where there was a native language present.  My first time to see London.  My first time to go to IKEA (in my defense, I'd have to drive 4 hours to get to the nearest IKEA).

 Flying into the London area...the fields were so pretty from the plane.

My Flat
We stayed in flats where 5-6 people shared a kitchen and living area, and each person had their own bed and bathroom.   

I stayed there with a group of Americans for about one month, and it was a really great experience!  I got to lead younger high school groups to meet local people and learn about many, many different cultures.  If you weren't aware, the UK has a very culturally diverse population due to the many ties it has had all over the world. 

Random Things Around Cardiff
One thing I dearly miss (to this day, over 4 years later) miss about Wales was the food.  I seriously gained like 10 pounds while I was there.  I am not even kidding.  (Did I mention that was only there for a month?) Oh well, I made up that by losing those pounds plus some a few years later when I lived in China. ;)

The Ernest Willows bathroom...I wonder how many pictures there are of this wandering around the internet? If you haven't seen it in person, or if you can't tell by the pictures, this pub has some pretty extravagant bathrooms.  And silly me, being my first time to really travel anywhere that was different from my home, found it more interesting to take pictures of this rather than things I did. haha

This is near the Cardiff train station at sunset.  The sidewalks and skyline were beautiful!

I also was intrigued that even the parking garage was pretty.  Okay, America.  Our nasty looking solid concrete scary looking parking garages can take some lessons from this one.

A pretty evening view from the flats.  

I saw this IKEA truck with a display in the back one day as I was walking.  

I really just thought this was so weird.  Why does IKEA have a mobile model room?  Does the fact that it is in a truck with clear glass windows make people want to buy it more?

Cardiff Bay

This wall had paintings that related to the culture and history of Butetown.  

Milgi's was a pretty cool local place that a small group of us visited one night!  I think the right word to describe it might be... bohemian?  They mostly serve drinks, but I think they might have served sandwiches or light food as well.

We visited this park pretty often to play soccer, and it had this really cool toy on it that would probably cause a million lawsuits in the U.S. (which is why the toy is actually awesome).

The Coffee Lounge
My favorite coffee shop in Cardiff.  I really spent a lot of time here getting to know the owners and eating the yummy sandwiches and donuts, drinking tasty coffee drinks, and enjoying the fun atmosphere.  It is in the Canton neighborhood, on Cowbridge Road.

Everyone in our group signed an American dollar and left it with them.  The next time I came in they had it taped up on the menu. haha

I liked the local art flare they had going on with the decorations and the art for sale by local artists.  Those leather couches were comfy too!  It of course helped that we made friends with the staff!

This was the owner of the Coffee Lounge, we got to know him really well, which was really cool!  I really loved this little shop, and would love to visit again one day if it is still there.

A Quaint Beach Retreat
The leader group took a trip to a quaint little bunk house on the beach in the northern part of the country.  I honestly couldn't tell you what town it was!  (My attention to detail back then was obviously really bad).

See, I told you it was quaint!  I love the window, and I don't have a picture, but the kitchen had like a full wall of tea mugs that hung...and thus captured my coffee/tea-lovin heart.

Right after we arrived on the first day, we played in the water and built sand castles.  It is also safe to say we were the only people on the beach not wearing wet suits...and it was COLD!

Later that evening, we had a beach campfire...which was also my first camp fire on a beach.
Let me just put it out there that beach campfires are way cooler than regular campfires.  :)

We took some surf lessons the next day...and here we all are in our wet suits.  My first time to wear one. (I'm in the blue suit on the far left).  Somehow I got stuck with one of the "pooch revealing" blue ones, but I guess I didn't get the memo to hide behind everyone wearing the snazzy black wetsuits for the picture.  I can see that extra 10 pounds starting to come on in this picture! haha

Caerphilly Castle
Not long before my month in Wales was up, we took a visit to the Caerphilly Castle.  It was really cool touring it, and the grass was oh, so soft!

This was the 'crazy American' thing I did with my friend...which we would randomly do in the middle of Queen street (a busy shopping street).  Wow, I'm not quite that extroverted these days!  

Pictures at castles just look awesome.

If I could go back, I would definitely take pictures of different things...things that would help me remember the city streets, buildings, and places I passed every day.  As a youngster, I mainly took pictures of things that I found funny, extravagant, or different.  I guess that's okay, and that is part of "growing up" as a traveler...learning what to value in your photographs.  I've learned now that the things I value in pictures are people, details, and things that give me a strong sense of the places where I spent time.

Oh, and I should mention that I also lost my camera on this trip, so a good 60% of the pictures are probably taken by someone else on my trip...most of those being toward the end of this post.


  1. That Ikea truck is definitely something I've never heard before! And there's something about living in East Asia that seems to be an effective manner of weight loss. When I spent a month in Malaysia this summer I lost more than 5 pounds...and I'm in love with Malaysian food. It's just a lot "lighter" than American food. The effect is more dramatic when the food isn't quite so tasty!

    1. Rachel, I really still don't get the point of the IKEA truck. I mean, obviously it is an advertisement, but wouldn't it be cheaper to just get a billboard? haha

      Yes, I agree about the food in East Asia being lighter. I might not have lost as much weight if we had a legitimate Chinese restaurant that was close, but as I lived near the university, most of the restaurants were Western, not that good, expensive. haha So I ate at home a lot...but even just the food that is available in China is lighter than the typical foods we eat in the U.S. Mmmm...I could really go for some baozi now!

  2. What an awesome experience!!! Have you ever watched Dr. Who? Tons of extra terrestriel things happen in Cardiff on that show. ;-)

    1. Haha, I've heard a lot of people talk about Dr. Who...and I know it is a TV series...but other than that I know absolutely nothing about it! Funny that extra terrestrial things happen in Cardiff...that place really must be out of this world! ;)

  3. Really your trip was fun, I hope you've enjoyed too much.


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