Archive for the ‘Cardiff’ Tag
The streets of Cardiff were heaving with Rugby fans (many of whom seemed well on their own way to heaving) when I arrived at 5pm. An international match was getting ready to kick off on top of the normal Friday night insanity (which would probably continue to build in surges well past midnight). I bought my train ticket then went of through the masses to find a pub. The Great Western was close, huge enough that I was able to find a seat, and had cheap scrumpy on taps. Sorted.
Rugby fans are great. They sing a lot, they are otherwise boisterous, they drink dangerous amounts of alcohol–all very similar to footie fans. Unlike football supporters, the revelry doesn’t seem to degenerate (too often) into random violence or, worse, sectarian or racial attacks…strange, but yet another reason I like the Welsh–they’ll play football but they are really invested in rugby.
The Cottage was our favourite Cardiff pub this trip. The exterior was gorgeous although looking out through these same windows is frightful. The crowd is the type you hope for in a pub: professional drinkers and enough oddballs to make it interesting. The sound on the television is off and the music is unobtrusive but hip.
Looking out, and...
I had another Brains Dark and we lingered awhile. In fact quite awhile as it was still light out when we entered and time to prepare for a late meal when we left. Once more my plans to go light on the beverages before a race (the Chippenham Half Marathon was the following morning) have been foiled: curse you, Cottage!
Nackered and in need of a rest we stumbled downhill to the Queen’s Vaults for a beverage but the interior of this beautiful if somewhat forsaken building smelt strongly of putrefied beer and was crowded and quite loud so we opted to take ours out to the side street and lean against the wall. There was a ledge there for my scrumpy and her V&T, and the endless parade of foot traffic down the hill was entertaining enough. Not really a place for a quiet drink, it could be fun if you were heading over to watch a rugby match across the street.
We went for Saturday breakfast down the Prince of Wales, a Wetherspoons built into an old and very large theatre. Artwork featuring stage actors were all around (a good one of a young Richard Burton across from our table) and private boxes were still intact in the upper levels.
The Rugby World Cup is on down in New Zealand and England were playing Argentina so the beer was flowing (lager mostly but we had ten ales to choose from including my Brains) and loud guys at adjacent tables were doing their best to be heard by the players…not so much cheering them on as berating their lousy play. England went on to win this Falklands Island grudge match but not very decisively, and we went on without awaiting this result to try to walk off the massive breakfasts we had just consumed.
I popped downstairs for a quick beer since Jackie didn’t want to go back out. The Goat Major was the first pub that didn’t seem to have burly security personnel at the door so it got my vote.
Inside there were plush upholstered booths and friendly bartenders. I got a Brains Dark which was a very thick mild very much like a stout and which demanded that I savour it. Settling into an empty area with a local magazine I had a prime spot for watching the other punters…and watching was the limit to it because everyone was speaking Welsh except me (so much for eavesdropping).
I returned to the room and Jackie was watching the street theatre that continued below us. She remarked that what she likes about Cardiff was that it has more of a European than British atmosphere. I had just come to that same conclusion down the pub.
The bay area in Cardiff is like a big, modern shopping mall but some of the new architecture is interesting and began to grow on me after a couple hours hanging out. Still, tourism is thirsty work and we decided to pop into the first proper pub we could find…this was the Packet.
The Packet seems to serve the adjacent council flats and this made for an interesting visit. We initially went out to the smoking area to people watch but soon were surrounded by a bunch of folks catching up on each other’s business since the last time they met earlier in the day. We even found our way into the “people who say they would keep working if they won the lottery are liars” conversation. Lovely.
Walking away, we discovered some dodgy neighbourhoods and the sort of poor and immigrant occupants (muslim ninja-ladies everywhere) that many other planning commissions would already have moved out of the potentially very posh real estate. Fair enough, though, these folks were here first and kept the area vibrant when the docks were so much less than desirable.
We arrived in Cardiff and our room wasn’t yet ready (seriously, they actually had to improve the condition of that shithole before we checked in) so we dropped our bag with reception and wandered off to sightsee and find a bite to eat. Nothing really piqued our culinary interests so we went into the Owain Glyndwr because it had the least offensive pub menu and it is named for the only leader of Wales we have ever heard of. I had a Felinfoel Double Dragon and a steak platter and the steak was cooked perfectly and actually tender (a rarity on this island). What a relief.
During the day, the downstairs is packed with families and tourists and local business folk dining on the cheap meals but there is a whole second bar upstairs and both of them are huge. There really was nothing on in Cardiff this weekend and our street was a nonstop loud party from about 4pm to 4am each day; I can only imagine that this square with the giant pub is equally out of control but there really was nothing that begged a second look about it…not a bad place, just not especially interesting.
Went to Northern Wales to run, as it were, in a marathon. This didn’t go especially well and I’ll probably make some notes and post some fotos tonite. There were also a number of pub visits (three during the marathon itself), to post and some touristy things. In the meantime, here’s some photos lifted from the press last week about girls out for the evening in Cardiff (not where I was, but Wales nonetheless). There’s more than the beautiful landscape to make a southern boy feel right at home:
Gravitationally challenged panties...
Haircut that pre-empts the need for a friend to hold it