My morning started off a bit rocky as my tour guide for the day did not show up. (That wanker!) So I punted and decided to explore Cardiff on my own. Score one for me. And tenacity. And those weird hop-on, hop-off buses that take you all over the city. Here’s what I gleaned from my first 24 hours in Wales:
11) A lot of the women here look like Duffy with their hair combed. The rest could use some eye cream.
10) Many of the buildings here were once owned by “potato moguls”, “potato magnates” or “potato barons.” I also heard the term “potato empire” and “potato conglomerate” more than once. Back in the 1800’s starches were the way to go, apparently.
9) You get what you pay for in Cardiff. The tour guide on my hop-on, hop-off bus was pleasant, but not the most knowledgeable. “To our left, you’ll see a statue of a man on a horse.” That’s it. That was the extent of her insight.
8) I have never—in my life—seen shops with such stupid names. I mean, bordering on insipid.
7) I got hopelessly lost about four minutes into my journey and it made for the best day ever. I ate breakfast at a cheese shop and lunch at a place that boasts it serves the “best vegan junk food in the U.K.”
6) It looked like it was gonna rain all day today. There was always a bit of faint drizzle in the air. The minute I stepped foot back in the hotel, it started to pour. Timing. Keep your umbrella with you 24/7.
5) TMI, but British coffee tears me up. I’m not sure what sort of crack-induced java they use, but you can rest assured it has kept me violently regular. (I chatted up the pec-tacular barista for about five minutes until, well … natured called.)
4) I found not one, not two, but three Starbucks today while traipsing around. It’s like a moth to a flame. See also #5.
3) The Welsh either have lovely soothing accents like you’re an extra in an Irish Spring commercial or it’s a mixed bag of nonsensical words, phrases and ill-conceived vowel combinations.
2) Man, there are a lot of barbershops in Cardiff. They all mention walk-ins are welcome. It couldn’t be further from the truth. The earliest appointment I could get for a straight razor shave was Wednesday. Each place was packed!
1) Richard, the concierge at the hotel, has promised under penalty of death that he found me a stellar tour guide for tomorrow to make up for today. He also booked me a reservation at Le Monde—a posh seafood restaurant that’s a “15-second walk or two-minute crawl” from the hotel. Concierges help make the world go ‘round here in Cardiff.
Here’s to a nice nap and Day 2 tomorrow!