This weekend I am attending a wedding in Cardiff. As I managed to find an apartment (rather than a hotel) and train tickets were super cheap I decided to make a weekend of it and explore the City. My experience of visiting Wales is limited to a geography trip during my GCSE year and it involved waders. Needless to say I was not happy.
I arrived on Friday at lunchtime and quickly dropped my bags off and headed out to maximise my time in the city. No matter where you go, it's a wonderful experience to travel on your own and be on your own terms entirely. It's something I am still learning to enjoy but I have certainly savoured it on this trip. The city is easy to navigate and the buses are very regular so I headed into town.
Before I could do anything I had to find some lunch, when I am away I don't like to go anywhere that I could go to in London so I walked through the many shopping arcades in Cardiff and stumbled across Restaurant Minuet in the Castle Arcade. The lunch was fabulous, it was so good I treated myself to two courses (Halloumi cheese starter and a kind of spinach in breadcrumb patty with a beautiful sauce for my main) and had two soft drinks, the total came to £13.00 so it was amazing value for an independent eatery. I would highly recommend this place, it was delicious.
Cardiff Castle http://www.cardiffcastle.com/
Cardiff Castle was simply beautiful, the grounds are breathtaking and it helped that the weather was so gorgeous. My favourite aspect of it was the Wartime Tunnels where the audio of bombs and planes overhead really gave a sense of how terrifying it must have been to use the castle as a shelter during the war. You could also walk to the very top of the keep and look out over the grounds, it was a bit of a climb as the stairs are small, winding and made of stone but I made it, like Rocky!
The Castle apartments were breathtaking, every nook and cranny was adorned with fabric or tiling and the main hall was watched over by the most beautiful angelic figures. I've made a little video of some of the rooms which you can see on my youtube channel here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi-g-AYxscg
The staff were extremely friendly and I met a lovely gent in the apartments building who was keen to impart his knowledge of the castle and told me that as a young man serving in the police force he had dreamt of retiring and working at the castle. it warmed my heart that he is getting to do what he always wanted to.
Vintage Shopping in Cardiff
Of course I sought out the vintage shops, having read blog posts about vintage shopping in Cardiff I was optimistic, however the ones I went to were typical of a uni town and contained mainly 1980's and reworked vintage. I have a blog post about charity shops in general to come shortly!
The castle emporium was a lovely place to visit, it's quite small and again seems to cater to the more 70's/80's enthusiast in terms of clothing but is is worth a dig around the accessories for the 40's and 50's enthusiast as you never know what you might find. It also has a little cafe and the sellers seemed really friendly. I came across a brand called Eagle Eyed Vintage who have some great retro style items that I will be keeping an eye on. You can find them on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Eagle-Eye-Vintage-176995049018480/photos?ref=page_internal
If you're a fan of records head to the upstairs of Cardiff Central Market to Kelly's, I have never seen anything like it, rows upon rows of vinyl to be flicked through, you'd probably end up with some sort of repetitive strain injury though! http://kellysrecords.com/
I also visited the charity shops but saw very few vintage items, as seems to be the way these days with charity shops in general. However charity shops in a city you haven't been to before are always worth a visit even if you come away empty handed. I managed to stumble across this beaded Moschino cardigan for £9.99 in Oxfam Cardiff, which is amazing value.
Fear not though, the next day I found a vintage treasure trove in an industrial estate just outside the city but it's so good it's going to need it's own post...
With love from Cardiff