The English love the underdog. They cheer for whomever is losing a sporting event and they favor whichever artist is ranked number two.
I’m not English, but when in ‘Rome’, you gotta love the underdog. As such, this weekend’s adventure took me and my boyfriend to Wales, the geographical underdog of the UK. Something about Wales being the one part of the country that we never seem to hear about piqued our curiosity.
Our first evening was spent in Cardiff, capital of Wales since the long ago era of the 1950’s. The city itself is the personification of Wales’ underdog status, recovering from a period of decline. We availed ourselves of the bright spots, visiting the waterfront area of Cardiff Bay and the city center with its Romantic era castle, the enormous Millennium Stadium, and some good nightlife.
On Saturday morning we stopped by the over-the-top fairytale Castell Coch before heading north to Brecon Beacons National Park. The weather was a bit scitzophrenic, raining one minute and sunny the next, so it made for some interesting hiking conditions. We spent the afternoon zig zagging our way through the park, hiking to waterfalls and through sheep pastures while avoiding rain.
On Sunday we spent a sunny day in Pembrokeshire on the southwest coast of Wales. The area was beautiful and had a great hiking trail along the cliffs and beaches.
We stopped for lunch at The Shed, a tiny seafood restaurant with a great reputation. I had local sea bass with an amazing dill beurre blanc sauce while my boyfriend noshed on a crab sandwich for which the meat was caught in the bay right outside the restaurant.
Our bellies full, we headed to St. Davids to see the famous cathedral and pick up some local goodies. We couldn’t resist buying a couple bottles of mead after reading Beowolf in high school English class. I have no idea what it will taste like, but it’s made with honey so it can’t be that bad, right?
We headed back to Cardiff, stopping at a huge beach in Newgale and driving through Swansea, which we decided was the underdog city of Wales.
But was Wales itself really deserving of its underdog status in the UK? The cities might well be less glamorous than their non-Welsh counterparts, but the coastline and parkland were gorgeous and the seafood was delicious. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Then again, if we did that, it would mean I couldn’t be excited about traveling to Wales anymore…