I promised more architectural weirdness today, which I will deliver. But first, I have to wax rhapsodic about Cardiff, Wales. This city definitely has a piece of my heart. When I was in London and planning the next steps of my trip, I wasn’t all that psyched about Wales. What’s the point? There’s like one dinky castle. It seemed like an unnecessary pit stop, but a little voice told me to go and I didn’t want to leave the U.K. without seeing a little from every country, so I booked a train ticket anyway. One month and about 10 cities later, Cardiff is still a high point.
I love the brave red dragon on the flag. I love the friendly people, including the homeless guy who gave me flowers he had pulled from a public park. I love that they stick by their sports teams. I love that the city has history but that it moves forward. I love wandering up and down the arcades. I love that they have free WiFi on the street. And I love, love, love Cardiff Bay.
At Cardiff Bay, there is so much architectural yumminess in such a compact area. First off, there’s Wales Millennium Centre. A huge space that houses a theatre, rehearsal spaces, offices, bars, and a children’s hostel, the Centre is favorite among locals (and tourists like me, obvi). The inscription on the copper “overhang” reads in Welsh and English “In these stones horizons sing.” Just beautiful.
Next was the Senedd. There is a huge emphasis on this being a truly public building, so it’s free to look around. You do you have to go through security–the Senedd is a legislative building after all–so pack light. As my bag went through the X-ray scanner, there was an awkward moment when the guards thought my SteriPen (this water purifier is a must even for city slickers like me) was a knife. As I pulled it out of the case to explain, I realized it could also be mistaken for a vibrator, but they believed me and I went on my merry photo-happy way. I was not a huge fan of the exterior (hence the lack of pics), but the interior was very cool.
A few footsteps away is Roath Lock BBC Studios, designed by “prankster” firm FAT Architecture. I think it’s a complete shame the firm broke up a few years ago because there’s such a joy and cheekiness to their work. Roath Lock is the production home of Doctor Who and other BBC shows. [Side note: I’m not into Doctor Who, but the Doctor Who Experience is also right next door, so to speak, if that’s your thing.] I was hoping to see David Tennant pop out the front door, but no such luck.
If you sat down for lunch at one of the restaurants near the bay and saw a show at the Millenium Centre in the evening, you could easily spend a whole day exploring Cardiff Bay.
I’m off to Edinburgh next, so stay tuned!