What is Wales to me? It is a jigsaw of national parks. Having lived in Cardiff 2002-2006, two FAQs are in order:
For goodness sake people should stop making fun of the Welsh accent. There are many more local accents around England which are in fact more challenging to follow. Welsh speak with a distinct accent, yes, but it is usually understandable without any problem. And it is nice, I like the accent.
No. People generally don't (and can't) speak Welsh -- they speak English in Welsh accent. And it is nice, I like the accent!
This is the place to see beeches and mountains to one's heart's content. In terms of sight-seeing, West Wales has everything. We just don't feel the need to go anywhere else. There's a whole chain of distinctly different beeches: Little Haven, Broad Haven, St Catherine's Head ... just to name a few. Over Easter holidays 2003, beginning from Fishguard via St. David's, I hopped from one beach to the next on the summer buses, ad hoc, with no predefined plan. The summer buses skirt the coast, the town services don't. So if you go, take the right buses.
The heart of Wales I acknowledged in my thesis. In my first year I went almost every fortnight for pony trekking. The contour of the mountain range is of unspeakable beauty -- something you see a thousand times and still find it breathtaking -- something that is pretty regardless of the weather. At the bend with the view of the valleys (on your right when going from Cardiff), don't be so distracted that you forget about the waterfall on your left. When it snowed in 2004 I went Cardiff - Storey Arms - Brecon - Abergavenny - Storey Arms - Brecon - Storey Arms - Bercon - Storey Arms - Cardiff on the same day. Amazingly, I managed to constantly find a bus to be on, with minimal wait in between, or I would have been frozen to death. Storey Arms has the most beautiful snow mountains but there is no shelter! I found all the snow I had wanted to see, and discovered what WHITE meant. Friends said I was mad. I like that radiance which reflects onto the cheeks, so much glow that I could feel myself glowing.
My first trip up was my first galavanting shortly after moving to Cardiff. I stayed with Chris & Dave at Felin Glais. There, I discovered how meaningful it is to offer Bed & Breakfast, comfort, care and warmth to travellers. The meaning which leads back to the inn lending itself available to Christmas.
All right, now we come to the 3rd FAQ: what to see and do? If you're a bore like me, sorry -- Cardiff is really for rugby fans, footballers and shoppers. (I'm talking about Cardiff only, not Wales.) H-o-w-e-v-e-r, there are isolated gorgeous spots:
The castle tour was part of the social agenda for the Annual All Wales Institute of Physicists & Engineers in Medicine meeting. The food was fantastic and the traditional sing-a-long was absolutely jolly. The castle tour itself, however, put me off completely. The vanity in acquiring decorative at all costs made me sick. Why on earth would people want and need so much money for? The castle owners were not even royalties. They were a Catholic family and had a special place for private Masses -- I shall not comment (not sure whether private and Mass go together at all). I hope I will never get so criminally rich. I think whoever gets so wealthy MUST give it away. Earning a lot is OK, not re-distributing is not OK. Earning the wealth with an honest pair of hands doesn't justify. That is pure insecurity and a rejection of faith. Money is first for feeding, second for our well-being. Never for vanities, which do not contribute to anybody's well-being.
I quit castles from that instant.
This awesome architecture by Cardiff Bay claims not to be an opera house but an art centre. The guided tour was brilliant. We were absolutely impressed:
Link to WMC Homepage.
This is an Ignatian centre boasting a full list of walks with stunning views of the Snowdonia. I have yet to notice a place so pristine, so faraway from pollution. It is also the only place I've been where I wished I had a torchlight with me. Turning off the lights in the night, believe me, it was pitch dark. I would visit again not just for the walks but also for that spectacular canopy of stars and the pitch-dark nights.
his could be the cleanest bus in Cardiff. Washing facilities on standby mode even when the bus was running a service:
A cobweb outside my flat in a frosty morning (please excuse the 1-button camera which can neither focus nor zoom):
St. David's Metropolitan Cathedral is a Catholic place of worship and communion like no other I've seen in the UK:
I really should have started attending the cathedral the first moment I arrived in Cardiff.