While Away at Cardiff Bay

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. 

blog-grids_cardiff-07Next 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.

blog-grids_cardiff-06A 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. 

blog-grids_cardiff-02

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!

-D.A.

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