On the weekend of February 18 and 19, I got a chance to go to two beautiful and historically rich coastal cities. Cardiff and Liverpool. First comes Cardiff…
Cardiff – It is the capital of Wales. “Is Wales a state, so that it has a capital?”, I asked, while walking on one of the main streets of the city. “Hush,hush…. don’t say that,call Wales a state, locals won’t be happy to hear that, they consider it a country!”, replied Rebekah, my friend from London and one of my fellow travellers. As I mentioned before she is studying Spanish and Italian in University of Birmingham. I was amazed that the Welsh people still consider it a separate country, I mean it used to be, but as far as I know it is a part of U.K. Whether a country or not, Wales is in U.K. and is magnificent, with it it’s own language called Welsh.
So Rebekah, her friend Vanessa from Peru, who is an international student studying history of arts and myself made a plan to travel to Cardiff during the reading week, it is a week long holiday which you get to do some reading assignments, maybe relax and travel as well. While trying some Indian street food in a small restaurant in Halls green area of Birmingham, a little bit off the main grid of the city, I mean nothing special about this area, just mentioning the name since I remember the name, hahaha, we pulled in my flat mate Vlad, who is from Romania, for the trip. He is an international student who is studying Physics and plans to take a Bachelor’s degree from University of Birmingham. That’s what I love about studying abroad, how diverse your group can be. We were four people from different countries and cultural backgrounds and travelling together, really exciting!
We took a train to Cardiff from Birmingham new street station on the Saturday morning and after getting off we headed straight towards the National Museum Cardiff. The museum was interesting with a huge electronic painting of an imaginary city, with a background changing into day and night and voice over by the artist himself, explaining the meaning of the painting. This was one of my favourites of the two paintings I found in the museum. The other was the famous French painting of “lady in blue”, it was truly gorgeous. I remember myself dragging and showing my friends the painting, because how beautiful it was and then being laughed at my amusement, because they had all read about it and seen its image in their high school books. I still wonder why I never happened to read about it.
Anyways, we got out of the museum and strolling around the city we found ourselves trying to search some restaurants because it was lunch time. Finally we found a pizza hut. for all the people reading this and thinking you go all the way to Cardiff and eat at pizza hut, instead of trying some Welsh food, no I am not joking, there is a big reason why we chose to eat there. Pizza hut in U.K. offers buffet for lunch for just 7 pounds which is like $8.5 or something similar. Not a bad deal at all.
After the lunch we moved on to the castle, we took an audio guide for each of us as it was free with the tickets.
I was quite excited to see the catapult kept on the campus of the castle, although I discovered it was not from medieval times but just created for some old movies.
We climbed on top of the tower and after that went inside the big mansion looking part of the castle.
What I found grand inside the mansion was the Arab room and the library. The Arab room was all made of marble and gold, really stunning. Have a look for yourself:
The library had books in five different languages and the collection had copies of books, thousands of years old, owned by the rulers of the time but still kept preserved.
We went to a souvenir shop after coming out of the castle. I got a tea towel for my mum. I was curious if the shopkeeper knew to speak Welsh, so I asked her and she did! I asked her the meaning of the word ‘cwtch’, it was written on some of the shop items. She told me it is pronounced ‘cutch’ and means to cuddle.
Next we moved on towards the bay area of Cardiff. It was relaxing to see the sea at the end of the day. There were some nice bars. The evening view was really mesmerising, it felt as if the sky and water were trying to immerse in each other. We went into one of the bars and relaxed for a while before heading off to the station to catch the train back to Birmingham. My friends could sleep till late if they wanted to, the next day, but I had a bus to catch for Liverpool early in the morning.
Liverpool– It is my favourite city straight away, of all the cities I have seen s far. I had bought a ticket for an organised tour, I would say it was somewhat like a tour because once we got to Liverpool they told us that we can wander around on our own and come back by seven in the evening. I went to the Walker Art gallery first. It had unique exhibition related to the things of daily use from 16th to 18th century like tea sets, drinking glasses, combs, mirrors, etc. There were some famous paintings of the English rulers from 16th to 18th century, also some artistic sculptures.
Next I moved on to the world museum very near to the art gallery. The museum was more for children, but I liked the dinosaur section. I walked through the city’s main market to reach the dock area where the museum of Liverpool was but unfortunately it was closed as it was under reconstruction. I saw the building of the Cunard shipping company, rival to the White star lines, the company that built the Titanic.
Now comes the most exciting part and what makes Liverpool my favourite city – the Albert dock. The place where international slavery museum and Titanic museum are, not to forget the Beatles exhibition, as the beetles were from Liverpool. International slavery is one of a kind museum in the world, there isn’t any other museum like this in the world. It tells the history of slavery, how it began, it’s consequences and how it ended and also how Liverpool was the most important centre of this horrendous trade. I still get goosebumps thinking that I was right at the dock where several slave ships were built and used to come and go.
Next was the Titanic museum. Titanic was brought to Liverpool after being constructed in Belfast. It was brought here so that fittings inside the Titanic could be completed. Liverpool was at it’s height of trade for timber among other things during that time, hence this. It was a big trade centre for timber and other raw materials, for a long time before Titanic being built there, that’s why a lot of ships were built there. After going through the titanic museum I felt excited, thinking one of the most powerful and grand ships of that time was right here at this dock.
I wanted to go to the Beatles exhibition but it was already five by the time I got out of the Titanic museum, and it was closed. I bought some postcards to send to my friends and family from a souvenir shop and started walking back towards where the bus was.
I would highly recommend making a trip to these two cities when in U.K.! I hope my post makes encourages you to!