Friday, March 19, 2010

Croeso i Caerdydd

That's Welsh for 'Welcome to Cardiff.'  It was charming to be in a country in which English is commonly used, but still would show the Welsh version as well-on everything from signs to tour maps. 

Two weeks ago, during my first 'unemployed weekend,' Simon & I went to Cardiff, Wales for the night.  While my passport is off being visa-ed, I'm limited to where I can go, and Cardiff is a simple jaunt from Paddington Station-which is as convenient as it gets-so it seemed like a logical choice.

Cardiff during the day?  Lovely:  pretty, clean, friendly...everything you'd want and more. Cardiff a nite?  A totally different story.  Let me put it like this:  by 9.30pm, we were sitting in the hotel bar having a beer because of the drunken, mad chaos on the streets.  And mind you, this wasn't a rare occasion-this is apparently Cardiff *every* Saturday nite.  Anyhoo, I'm jumping ahead...

We got to Cardiff around 11a on Saturday, and dropped our things off at the hotel.  We were lucky to have a great location-effectively a hotel on the main street (but thankfully, a room on the quiet, back side).  If you're in the mood to shop, Cardiff is definitely the place!  More High Street shops than you can shake a stick at.  And, if mainstream isn't your thing, there are tons of amazing, little boutiques in the labrynthe of arcades in city-center as well.  The Arcades alone make Cardiff worth a quick trip, if for no other reason.  So, this is how Simon & I spent the bulk of our day: just having a nice wander around the town, and popping into one shop after another.  Surprisingly, neither of us bought anything, but the looking was fun enough!  We also spent a few hours at "Castell Caerdydd"-Cardiff Castle, which was lovley-well preserved and beautiful-but a bit expensive on the admissions (tickets are about 10 quid each).

We spent so much time walking around, that both of us were actually ready for an early dinner.  Well that, and the fact that Simon knew the 'tone' of the town would change at night-and he knew neither of us would enjoy being out in the drunken mess. Good call on his part...

We had dinner at Positano -and Italian resto.  Apparently, Cardiff is a bit known for Italian, and Positano looked good from the ouside.  And, it was!  Simple, fresh, authentic dishes.  Amazing prices (starters and mains for both of us, 2 beers, and a delicious tiramisu to share all for under £35), and good service.  score.

After dinner, we were going to go for a wander, but it was pushing 9pm, and the madness outside had already begun (I feel like I'm referencing something from a zombie movie..), so we decided to head back to the hotel for another drink and call it a night.

While having a wander on Saturday, we came across Madame Fromage in one of the arcades.  I'd heard of Madame Fromage before (though I didn't know it was in Cardiff), so we decided to have lunch there on Sunday.  I am so glad we went there!  The food was amazing.  It's a pity we weren't hungrier-meals aside, they had a good number of Welsh cheeses in their cheese case I was itching try.  Pity I didn't get to. :(  But, our mains were still delicious.  I had lasagne, and Simon had a Breton Fougasse (a pastry with cheese, ham, and olives).  Yum on both accounts.

After lunch, we walked down to the bay, where we spent the rest of the day before having to come back up to town and catching our train. The bay was fab-a great weather day, and clearly folks decided to take advantage!

All in all, Cardiff-nightime follies aside-was a good, cheap, easy overnight trip.  If for no other reason but to have anothe wander thru the arcades, and cheese at Madame Fromage, I'd go back!

Cardiff Castle                                                                                      Breton Fougasse                                 

Cardiff  Bay

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