Crushing on Cardiff

 

One life changing advantage of living on this side of the world is the amount of travel you get to do. Just as I embark on yet another adventure (to Scandinavia this time), here’s the highlights of a recent trip to Cardiff. Have a read if you’re into travel, thought about Wales before or just looking for something to read to pass some time.

Cardiff… wouldn’t be on the top of my list to visit but cheap fares, even cheaper accommodation and the chance to tick another country off my very long ‘to-do’ list meant that I packed my bags and jumped on the 40 min flight from here to there less than 2 weeks ago. Better known for its love of rugby, spray tans, solarium beds and hair extensions (just watch 1 episode of The Valleys and you’ll know what I’m talking about). Cardiff is surprisingly a great spot for a cheeky getaway despite there being a few over-tanned, juiced up, under-clad and over-confident meat heads roaming around. It’s two main streets, aptly named Main Street and High Street, are lined with shops and bars that lead straight to Cardiff Castle, the city’s main tourist attraction. There are quaint, winding arcades that occasionally join the two streets and down these you’ll find cafes, boutiques, vintage and retro stores and the world’s oldest record shop. We only spent a few days here and that seemed to be long enough to catch quite a few of the city’s highlights. I’ve listed some below.
  
Spillers Records

The oldest record store in the world, founded in 1894, Spillers has been selling records and music tickets to the alternates of Cardiff ever since. Nestled down The Morgan Arcade, Spillers is worth a visit even if just for bragging rights of having been to the oldest record shop in the world. It boasts a large collection of vinyl and music paraphernalia but is only a teeny tiny shop so don’t expect the diversity of todays music stores. Still very cool and a good souvenir for any music lovers in your family.

The Prince of Wales 

An old theatre built in 1878, come sex cinema in the 1960’s, The Prince of Wales now plays host to a pub and restaurant that is considered a local institution. We ventured here on our first night in Cardiff to meet a friend who was going to show us around this city. Although its owned by Wetherspoon you wouldn’t really know it as the old girl has been restored to some of her former glory, including original stucco décor. The ground floor consists of a few bars, a restaurant area and some pokies, and gives off the vibes of an old crappy RSL (the clientele didn’t really help its case on this as one man was passed out and it was only 6pm!). Upstairs however, is open and spacious, you can see the old balcony theatre seating and the scaffolding for the mighty red curatins that would have draped over the stage. Beers were good. Brain’s is the local brew and the soft ale was pretty tasty.

  
Rum Reggae Jerk (officially named ‘Turtle Bay’)

Headed here after a round or 2 at The Prince of Wales. Delicious Caribbean food, including all the jerk you could want coming straight to you out of the Jerk Centre (that’s the jerk making part of the kitchen apparently). 2 for 1 cocktails during happy hour and Sean-a Paul playing literally as we were walking in, set the pace for the evening. It was as cheesy and kitsch as you can imagine but they somehow pulled it off. Only disappointment was that the tables and chairs didn’t get pulled back as the night went on to make way for a dancefloor.

  
Barker Tea House

Another gem situated down a winding, quiet arcade, Barker Tea House is a beautiful spot to dust off after the night before. They specialise in tea, obviously. You can go the whole hog and sit down to a full High Tea or just ad lib it as we did. Upstairs there is more seating where you can relax in bespoke Vicotrian-esque chairs and escape the hustle and bustle of downstairs’ busy walkway. Scones with clotted cream and the house breakfast tea were my favourite. 
The Live Lounge

Bit of a gig spot, major sausage fest though and I mean MAJOR sausage fest, we were the only females in the place for at least the first hour… That being said it was a good night out. The drinks were £1 each so needless to say debauchery ensued. Worth it for a night out with a bit of live music and dirt cheap drinks.

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Crushing on Cardiff

An ode to the bird that is black

To many, Dublin is synonymous with pub culture and hospitality and my experience here has been no different. In particular, one place has captured my heart like no other. Those of you who have spent time with me over the last year could probably guess where I’m talking about and I take no shame in my very apparent public love for the place.

This is an ode to the Bird that is Black.

Affectionately referred to as the bird, b bird, our local and our living room. Blackbird is a weekly if not bi-weekly or tri-weekly staple in my life in Dublin. A renovated old mans pub that once was the Rathmines Inn, we
stumbled across this gem shortly after settling ourselves into our apartment and with our first of many pints here, we ingratiated ourselves into life in D6.

Greeted with a well chorused “Hi girls” or much to our disdain “Hey Sheilas”, the lads in the Bird always make an effort to make the friendship we forced on them seem less ‘forced’. From its tunes, tap beers, shitty pizzas, beard-cladded barmen, obsessive nature towards candles, lamps and coasters, and protective bouncers – there’s nothing about Blackbird that I don’t love.

I’ve embarrassed myself more here than in any other single establishment worldwide. From asking out bar staff (and being politely but awkwardly rejected), to falling down the stairs in front of crowds of people, B Bird has seen it all. We’ve supplied the lads with birthday cakes and hugs and kisses, we’ve requested tracks, posed as staff members, reorganized the furniture, lent a helping hand when it’s busy and frequently over stayed our welcome.

I’ve taken dates here, made new friends here, introduced both my dads to the boys here, celebrated every milestone for the past 10 months here and more. If I’m honest, some months I’ve spent more money in here than on rent. And certainly more time than I than I’d like to admit. Needless to say we’ve taken the concept of the ‘local’ to the extreme in Dublin but I wouldn’t change it. There’s nothing like having a place that feels like a second home when you’re away from your own.

To Blackbird, a black hole where my dignity and dollar happily go to die. You have forged your way into our hearts, even if you didn’t mean to..

An ode to the bird that is black