Day Out in Cardiff -- Why Wales? Why Not!

When I told my friends and family I was going to Cardiff, they looked at me questioningly with a look that said 'Why Wales?'.  I say, 'Why Not?!'.  For some reason, I've always been fascinated by Wales.  I'm not sure why but I thought it would be a fun yet down-to-earth place to visit.  I finally got my chance to visit and at bargain basement prices when a Ryanair deal to Bristol surfaced.  We flew from Dublin to Bristol (~25 euros total for two people) and then took the airport bus to the train station and where we were whisked away to Cardiff.
The Bristol Temple Meads train station was actually quite lovely both inside and out -- totally unexpected.
We even found cool mosaic artwork on our way to the tracks.
We emerged from the train station after about an hour ride to a crisp and sunny day in Cardiff.  We took a wander down St. Mary's Street to get our bearings.
I smiled when I saw The Prince of Wales pub and thought of Wills and Kate and their upcoming nuptials.
Cardiff is known (but not very widely) for its charming Victorian era arcades.  We had a fantastic time exploring their ins-and-outs.
We popped into Cardiff Market which is open on Saturdays.
We were treated to sights and smells that ranged from breads and cookies to meats to produce and other miscellany.
We stopped at this stall which was falsely accused of selling meats and pickles.  We treated ourselves to some homemade Welsh cakes.  Welsh cakes are a bit of a cross between a scone, a shortbread, and a crumpet.  They come in a variety of flavors from raisin to lemon curd to chocolate chip.
We stopped for a coffee and clandestinely ate our Welsh cakes at the High Street Arcade.
The Castle Arcade was quite well-preserved but we ran into a few things that were a little out of place...
...like Homer Simpson riding a hobby horse.
A red dragon appears on the Welsh flag and you can find dragons everywhere in Cardiff, including in fondant on top of a cake.
We popped out of the Castle Arcade and took a walk around the circumference of Cardiff Castle.  We decided not to go inside because the entry price of 14 pounds seemed a bit steep.
We discovered the entrance to the adjacent arboretum and took a long stroll near the river.
There was a really cool 'animal wall' surrounding the park that featured a bear, anteater, fox, pelican, and much more.
We were able to catch a glimpse inside the castle from a distance through a back door in the arboretum.
We exited the park and took an underground passage covered with artwork under the road to the university and civic center.
We ate lunch at Dragon's Kitchen in the Castle Arcade.
I even tried Welsh Rarebit which has nothing to do with Elmer Fudd's rabbit as the name might suggest.  Rarebit is basically cheesy bread with some spices and mustard baked in.
We finished our meal with a slice of endearingly named Bumbleberry Pie covered in cream.
We walked back to our hotel near the train station and spied this modern sculpture surrounded by modern buildings.
Across the street, we admired the Wyndham Arcade.  It truly is the arcades that give Cardiff its unique character.
After our experiences exploring the city, I was convinced that Cardiff is underrated by European tourists.  It's definitely worth a look if only for an afternoon.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Day Out in Cardiff -- Why Wales? Why Not!
Day Out in Cardiff -- Why Wales? Why Not!
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