Monthly Archives: May 2017

A trip to Cardiff

After finishing all my university duties in Bangor, I was soon on my way to spend a few days in the capital of Wales – Cardiff! Therefore, this blog entry focuses on those few wet but exciting days in the South of Wales. This blog post will not tell you what I did in Cardiff chronologically, but rather according to different sights and places – since I went so some places several times because they were so nice. 😉 I hope you enjoy reading it!

Cardiff City and the Cardiff Story

After a four-hour train ride we arrived in Cardiff and soon went out of the hotel to discover the city. Cardiff has two main areas which are and are made attractive for tourists – the city centre and Cardiff Bay, ‘made attractive’ because within those areas there is free WIFI! (which doesn’t work properly….). On the first day we were mainly walking around and discovered for instance the Cardiff Market, a Jamie Oliver restaurant, a chapel now used as a bar and restaurant, the Cardiff Story (an exhibition about the history of the city), a shop selling ‘poopy’ cushion and a huuuuge shopping centre – St. David’s, a synagogue now used as an office (O.O). Have a look at the pictures below to see it.

Bute Park

Bute Park was one of our first destinations, it is Cardiff’s biggest (I think :-D) but definitely most famous park close to the city centre, right next to the castle. Before entering the park you will find a wall decorated with a number of unusual animals such as an anteater or a lynx, have a look at the photo showing the board with more information about that. It was a very nice welcome to a beautiful park with many things to discover. It hosts a number of animal statues inside as well, so you can go for an animal hunt, or do the fitness trail (a number of fitness equipment can be found and used in certain parts of the park), looking for the house where actually people live in, or even go into the park so far that it makes you think you are already outside Cardiff in a nearby forest.

Cardiff Castle

One major attraction of Cardiff is certainly the castle, which is located in the city centre as well. The castle walls are currently covered with flags showing players of all teams participating in the Champions League this year and a dragon protecting a trophy replica. I totally love this idea, I think it is very nice to look at and it indicates how important the Champions League final is to the city! Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. On the 3rd of June the Champions League final will take place here – in Cardiff! I won’t be there though, I do not have a ticket but it might be worth going there to watch the game in one of the huge tents in the castle area- however, 1000 Euro per night is ridiculous. Anyway, back to the castle – The castle area is huge and hosts a number of places, such as the shop with the exhibition, the mansion part of the castle, the more fortress type of castle and a bomb shelter. Before entering the actual castle we went though an exhibition showing the Welsh armies in different wars, where one statue of a Dodo caught my attention (yes, I always pick the weird things out of the stuff I see).

After that we first went to the mansion part of the castle. It strongly reminded me of Penrhyn Castle due to its beautiful furnishing, have a look:

The fortress type of the castle is what you usually see when you search for ‘Cardiff Castle’, it is located in the center of the area and provides a nice view over the city.

Our last destination within the castle area was the bomb shelter, which was a long corridor and they were playing sounds which made you feel like there is actually going on a war above you. On the walls there were some interesting and funny posters and caricatures, have a look:

National Museum of Cardiff

The National Museum of Cardiff shows artifacts of natural and art history, so it is a kind of combination of the Viennese Naturhistosches and Kunsthistorisches Museum. However, it also has a big focus on the development of planet Earth. Here again, I have picked out the most awkward stuff to a amuse you (trilobites wouldn’t be very interesting, wouldn’t they?).

Millennium Stadium

The Millennium Stadium or Principality Stadium (that’s the name of its sponsor) or National Stadium of Cardiff is the stadium of the Welsh Rugby national team, but it is also used by the football team as its home ground. Unsurprisingly, it is probably my favorite attraction in Cardiff, together with the Dr Who experience. It is located in the city centre and we were told during the stadium tour that they had t odecide whether they would like to build it in the city centre (with less parking opportunities but close to the people) or outside (with many parking opportunities but far away from the city centre) – and we were told the decision was an easy one – and a good one, in my opinion. The stadium looks a bit like a big ship from the outside, on the last day of my trip they were already preparing for the CL final and I could take a nice photograph showing the Real Madrid flag. The stadium tour was very interesting, especially having a look at the two very different dressing rooms (Juve will have the better one), the VIP area where the trophy will be raised and the view from the very top of the stadium. We were also told that the stadium has its own falcon (I think), which is brought to the stadium frequently to keep birds away from building nests. The stadium is definitely a perfect choice for the CL final.

Millennium Stadium

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is the other tourist area apart from the city centre. There you can find a number of attractions such as the National Assembly of Wales, the Millennium Centre, the Roald Dahl Plass, the Water Tower (entrance to Torchwood hub), Techniquest (a technical museum particularly interesting for children), the Pierhead Building, the Norwegian Church. The Techniquest was particularly memorable, as we managed to build a bridge, which is considered to be ‘very difficult to build’ and were surrounded by French lower secondary students, Cardiff seems to be very popular for a visit in France. Please have a look at some pictures before reading about the Dr Who Experience next 😉

Dr Who Experience

For those of you who have never heard of it ;-): Dr Who is a very popular and long running British TV series about a person (the doctor) who is able to time-travel in his ‘tardis’ (the phone box). I am not a hard core fan of the series, but I think it is very funny (but trashy ;-)) and the Experience is a must-do in Cardiff. The Experience is an interactive experience through some of the most iconic sets of the series – unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs during that interactive part – and the visitor group has to find three crystals to help the doctor with some enemies. I was one of three, as I found one crystal in the graveyard full of weeping angels. It was really cool, I can highly recommend it. 🙂 After that experience we could go through a museum with quite a lot of exhibits, including a number of different Daleks, Tardises (is that the plural of Tardis?) and other monsters, even Groots’ parents were there! Have a look at the pictures to get an impression of that! (And find even more in the Cardiff Gallery!) 😉 I would really like to do the Experience again one day – with Tilda Swinton, so please take her as the next doctor ok?

To conclude – no I won’t sum up everything because there is no point to as you have read it anyway – I had a great time in Cardiff, the weather was not perfect as it was raining most of the time – but those who know me know that I totally prefer this over high temperatures. In general, I have to say that I can’t complain about the weather in Wales. To me, it is perfect. I can’t be the only person who wants to go to the UK because of the weather? Back to Cardiff: It is not a huge city, you can cover all tourist attractions in a few days, so it is very nice for a short trip – and you can get everything you could want from a city trip: museums, a castle, a football stadium, entertainment and nature. And shopping of course. At least that’s what I want from a city trip 😉 The restaurants are rather expensive though, so you better take some money with you.

I hope you liked my Cardiff report, my ERASMUS stay is coming to an end very soon, but I am planning to publish one more blog entry about my whole experience, so there is more to come still! 😉

Best wishes,

Alexandra

Easter with The Beatles, Manchester United, Sheep & Yoda

It has been a looong time since my last entry! I sincerely apologize but because of that I have a lot to share this time, I hope you like it 🙂

I had three weeks of Easter holidays and spent most of the time working on one of my essays – I came here to study after all, and those who know me know important it is to me to do well just for or the sake of doing well and being happy with myself 😉 However, apart from that I also went to Chester again, had my family visiting me, took a photo with the Champions League trophies, took part in a great graduation ceremony, paid a visit to Penrhyn Castle and saw Manchester United live in the Europa League (and much more)! 😀

My second visit to Chester was as fantastic as my first one, Chester appears to be a rather small town but it is considered to be big enough to have its own Primark and Disney Store. I basically went to the same places I visited last time, but found something new everywhere, have a look at the photos below to find out! 😉

During the first week of my Easter holidays my mum and sister came to visit me for a few days and I was extremely happy about that. We spent most of the time in Bangor (it is small, but it has still a lot to offer) and went on a daytrip to Liverpool, where we went shopping and saw the wonderful Beatles Story – an exhibition about the Beatles. In the Beatles Café I had the most delicious cupcake (blueberry) I have ever eaten in my whole life, so if you ever happen to be there, try it! Have a look at the photos to get some impressions of the exhibition. Moreover, I found Gareth in Liverpool! But not in the exhibition, that would have been a bit…weird.

As mentioned before, I spent most of my Easter holidays working on my essays and therefore spent most of the time in Bangor – but not only inside my room. Especially since the Champions League trophies were travelling around Wales and came to Bangor, where everyone could take a photo with them. What a celebritization (Word says this word does not exist but I am pretty sure I used this term a few years ago in my Cultural Studies paper and got a 1 – so it has to exist! Shame on you, Word!) of objects…

After the holidays at the end of April we had our last compulsory meeting, which was a graduation ceremony especially organized for the international students. I am very grateful for this, I am sure not every university offers this. I am especially happy because in contrast to my diploma ceremony in Vienna I could celebrate this graduation together with friends. 🙂

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Graduation ceremony

A few days later I went to a nearby castle called Penrhyn, which was incredibly beautiful out- and inside (have a look at the photos below).

 

I went there with two of my flatmates and their friends, a few days later my flatmates moved out, this is for you: Thank you for being the flatmates one can only wish for, although we had some difficult times with the mess and Paco (this guy is actually not called Paco, but he was called Paco because we do not know his name) I enjoyed the time with you, especially watching movies and dancing in the kitchen 🙂 I hope you enjoy your time back home, maybe we see each other again and watch Frozen 2 together (with Elsa marrying a woman!). 🙂

I am quite alright here (it is not messy at all, against all expectations o.O), someone new moved in – with all this moving out and moving in I feel a bit like a candidate of Big Brother – or rather I’m A Celebrity…. Get Me Out Of There! (the jungle camp) sometimes if you look into the kitchen…but I guess I haven’t done enough crap to be considered a D-promi and therefore I’m not suitable for such a show…

The first two may weeks were part oft he exam period here and I was lucky to have all my exams and assignments due in those first two weeks. I did not have that much work after all because I had done most things during the holidays. I only had a written and oral exam in Welsh, which was no problem at all and then on the 11th a written exam in the so called Prichard-Jones Hall in the center of the University building. This room is absolutely incredible, I wish I could have taken a photo but I was not allowed to take anything in apart from a bottle and pens. During the exam we were told that if one of our pens falls off the table, we have to call the invigilator to pick it up – another student picking up your pen would be considered cheating, which I found a bit..strange…but ok..here a BA paper is called dissertation so I am not wondering about anything here anymore…. ;-D

On the same day of the exam I was rewarded with a very unique experience, namely watching Manchester United live against Celta de Vigo in an Europa League game in Old Trafford. As you can imagine, there were quite a lot of people around this stadium with more than 75,000 places, but the atmosphere was incredible. I did not understand exactly what the fans were singing (they sang several songs), only “Jose Mourinho”. The game was a good one too, it was very close and after two red cars and two goals it ended with a tie and Manchester United proceeding into the final. It was rather late when the game was over and we had to get back to the city center to catch our (the last) train. When we saw the queue waiting for the Metrolink (tram) we knew we might not make it so we decided to walk, and if we didn’t take the Metrolink at a later station we would not have made it. It reminded me very much of my Brussels run, but this time my leg was fine and I was not alone so it was stressful, but not as bad as in Brussels. However, I will still won’t forget this Manchester night run 😉 And yeah, we made it in the end 🙂

After an exciting but also exhausting night in Manchester we decided to visit one oft he most famous villages of Wales, the town with the longest name – Llanfairpwll­gwyngyllgogery­chwyrndrobwll­llantysilio­gogogoch. It is very close to Bangor actually. You might ask yourself why someone would give a town this name? I was told it was done to get a train station and apparently it worked. And with that comes a Guinness World record, also not bad. The town itself is not very special, but it offers some more or less secret spots, such as a „hidden forest“ with a statue on top, a beach with another statue that can only be reached by passing a graveyard. Have a look at the photos to see what I mean. 😉

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog entry and looking at the photos I made, next time I will write about my visit to the Welsh capital Cardiff and of course include many photos!

Best wishes,

Alexandra