Although Cardiff is the capital of Wales, it sometimes feels more like a small town. One reason being its size – the city is rather small compared to its capital-companions such as London, Edinburgh or Dublin. You can basically walk everywhere. Another reason for its small town feeling is the fact that Cardiff is home to a number of Victorian and Edwardian arcades that are spread throughout the city. The arcades are not only a shopping destination, I mostly visit them to spend an afternoon in one of the cozy cafés or tearooms there.
Speaking of tearooms – the best and most famous tearooms in Cardiff are the “Pettigrew Tearooms” located in Bute Park. The “Pettigrew Tearooms” are famous for their handmade cakes and British tea biscuits. When I visited the tearooms several weeks ago, I tried their Classic Cream Tea offer. You get to choose on of their teas which comes along with two scones, jam and cream. The tea I chose was the Angel Peach tea – a loose leaf tea made of green Sencha with sunflower blossoms and a fragrant peach flavour – so delicious! Since the “Pettigrew Tearooms” are featured in several travel guides, they are often a destination for tourists. To make sure that you get a cute spot inside the café (or outside in their little garden in the heart of Bute park!), make sure you arrive just a little before the regular tea time, which usually starts around 3.30/4pm.
Since you are already in Bute park, you might as well explore it a little more! The park is the perfect recreational space whenever you feel like escaping the city life. The river Taff flows through the park. If you keep following the river all the way to the north, you are following the so-called “Taff Trail”, a popular hike which eventually leads you all the way to Castle Coch or even the Brecon Beacons National Park, which will be featured in one of the following blogposts.
If you don’t feel like hiking or taking a walk through Bute park, the Cardiff city centre has a lot to offer. Aside from tea rooms and arcades, you can also find several high streets or huge shopping malls that are home to big British and international retail chains such as Nike, H&M, Urban Outfitters or Apple. But there is more: the Cardiff Central Market also dates back to the Victorian times and used to be the central marketplace for the citizens of Cardiff. Now it is more of a speciality marketplace, selling fresh fruits & vegetables, baked goods, decorative items or records. One thing you need to try there are the handmade Welsh Cakes. They are traditionally baked on a bakestone and consist of dough, raisins and powdered sugar. Make sure you get them when they are fresh from the oven and still warm!
A trip to Cardiff always takes you to the Cardiff Bay. When living in Cardiff, you find yourself being lucky to live in a city that has a river and access to the sea at the same time! The Cardiff Bay is a 20 minute walk away from the city centre (buses and trains also go to the bay). It is a popular spot for a Sunday getaway or a visit to the Wales Millenium Centre where you can choose between visiting musicals, theatre shows or ballet performances.
In November, Keshia, Corrie and I decided to watch “Beauty and the Beast” performed by the Ballet Cymru, the Welsh national ballet company. The performance was amazing and the perfect start to a dazzling Christmas time in Cardiff! Every little spot in Cardiff is covered in Christmas lights and you hear Christmas carols everywhere you go. The city even has a little Christmas market, known as the Winter Wonderland. Also, our beautiful university seems to put up Christmas trees in every building to make sure that you get into the Christmas spirit when you’re all busy with finals and assignments!