Out of all the places we visited on our trip, Cardiff felt the most like home. Walking around the waterfront town reminded me of Santa Cruz, with a very friendly community and breathtaking views of the bay. Check out some of my favorite moments from the end of our adventure.
Ask Italian: After landing, we were absolutely starving. It was nearing lunch time, and as we walked into town from our hotel, we noticed this inviting Italian spot and decided to check it out. Most of the restaurants we ate at had been picked out prior to our trip, so we were pleasantly surprised with this place. The pasta bolognese and garlic bread hit the spot, and the delicious desserts satisfied our sweet-tooth cravings. This meal really set the tone for the entire food experience Cardiff had to offer.
Cardiff Market and Castle Quarter Arcades: After lunch, we had energy to go exploring. We started out by simply walking around. As I’ve mentioned before, I love checking out foreign cities’ marketplaces, and Cardiff’s was quite exceptional. Cardiff Market was so big and packed with varied offerings—I could have spent hours in there walking from vendor to vendor, tasting different sweets and treats along the way. In addition to their central market, Cardiff also has shopping arcades to walk through. They basically are little indoor malls that you can find in the alleyways between old buildings. There you can enjoy cute boutiques and cozy cafes. Both the market and arcades were around in the late 1880s and have since acted as vibrant pillars of the city.
Cardiff Castle: The UK is home to many castles, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Cardiff Castle is smaller and a tad subtler than the rest. It felt the most unchanged since its heyday too. As we walked through the yard and eventually made our way up the steep and narrow steps to the top of the castle, we got to look out and see Wales from above. Sharing the view that a Castle’s original inhabitants saw always amazes me, and I was not disappointed while looking over the green space around the primary tower. I could picture the land and life of a thousand years ago easily.
Cosy Club: This restaurant was so good we ended up eating there twice! The upbeat and hipster décor was unique and lively, the service was wonderful and endearing, and the food was out of this world. Their breakfast line-up was so yummy, particularly the pancakes with peach sauce, and their dinner was even better! I ordered the fried chicken and was blown away—the hint of cinnamon was a great twist! I highly recommend this hidden gem if you ever visit.
Cardiff Bay Open Boat: Nothing reminded me more of Santa Cruz than our fun ride around the bay. Our guide was hilarious, and his boat, the Daffodil, was quaint and charming. As he showed us Cardiff from the perspective of the bay, we were mesmerized by its picturesque views. The whole ride took less than 20 minutes, but it was still one of the most memorable activities from the trip.
La Parrilla: We rented a car in Cardiff, and with a break in our itinerary, we headed to Swansea. Once we arrived, we enjoyed a lovely happy hour on the water. Even after growing up near the ocean, I never tire of a water view.
Dan-Yr Ogaf National Showcaves: We had read about ancient caves about an hour outside of Cardiff, but being inside of them was surreal. It wasn’t apparent online, but once we got there we learned that the caves were in an area once surrounded by Dinosaurs! Inside the caves, evidence of early human activity made them incredibly intriguing. Making our way through the damp tunnels was like a walk back in time and unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.
Brecon Beacons National Park: We had heard about a Roman Fortress not far from the Caves, but we got lost along the way, and then came to find out visiting the fortress itself required a five-mile hike. So instead, we spent the afternoon exploring the Brecon Beacons, the national park that the fortress lived on, from a high crest overlooking meadows and a small lake, just walking around the nearby area. When I picture Wales, this is what I see—vast open landscapes with sheep and greenery. The air was so fresh and clean. Being out in the middle of nowhere, taking in all of Wales’ natural beauty was breathtaking.
The Potted Pig: I had heard such good things about this restaurant, and it still managed to exceed my expectations. The food was FANTASTIC. We tried to savor every bite, and even though we were stuffed by the end of the night, we were left wanting more. I can still close my eyes and taste the steak melting in my mouth. The ice cream that came with the pie tasted richer than any cream product I’ve ever had in the States. This delectable meal was a fitting way to end our entire trip, leaving us full of gratitude and flavor from new experiences. I hope I can go back one day.