Hello friends! I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start. It’s been another week so it’s time for another blog post of more adventures. So buckle up your seat belts and get ready because this weekend I took an hour bus ride to Cardiff to explore the city!
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales as well as the newest European city. It also houses the Welsh rugby team which we realized instantly after stepping off the bus. We knew this because when we stepped off the bus there were already a ton of people in the street  at 9:30 in the morning and the crowd grew exponentially all morning. Currently, a number of European countries are playing rugby against each other through out Europe for a competition called the Six Nations. Wales played Ireland in Cardiff the day we were there so we were surrounded by daffodil hats (the flower of Wales) and Welsh flag kilts all day.
After stopping by the tourist info place, we decided to head off towards Cardiff Castle because everyone really wanted to explore a real castle (the Swansea Castle ruins don’t count!). On the way there, we took a detour into a church built in the fifteenth century. It’s crazy to see how old things are here. In America, I’ve visited plenty of historic sites because I find them fascinating, including the oldest settlement in America: Jamestown. First of all, there’s nothing really left of Jamestown on the island because nothing built was permanent. Secondly, this church was two hundred years older than Jamestown which settled in 1607. So I absolutely love the history here. And the church was really pretty!
Eventually we made it to the castle. Cardiff Castle was literally in the center of the city. It was just over a block directly north of the very modern (and very large) stadium where rugby was being played in that day and a couple blocks west of city hall. Outside the walls, we saw a Burger King at about the same time we saw the castle walls. But inside, it felt like another world. Large grounds with a keep, a moat, a clock tower and a castle with multiple spires spanned the area. There were even tunnels in the walls of castles which were used to protect inhabitants from bombings during WWII. It was both beautiful and awesome!
Inside the castle’s keep.
We toured the clock tower at the castle and it was amazing. Every room in it was decorated ornately in vibrant colors. I especially loved the summer smoking room because it was covered in beautiful patterns with so much history and literature references beyond anything I could ever imagine.
We walked out the castle to find the streets thick with people in scarves, skirts, capes, and other adornments bearing the Welsh flag (or the Irish flag, but we don’t talk about that). We were hungry but didn’t want to wait hours for food so we took a nice walk through a large park and stumbled upon a pub near a college campus that had a very homey feeling. There we had a great meal and got to watch rugby–a game which I still don’t really understand. But it was great and that’s what matters!
Emily, Carly, Paul and Miranda smiling at us from the top of the North Gate.
I think the best part of the whole trip was the group of people that we went with. Carly, Lindsey, Sam and I are the four female engineers from Illinois, but we’re all different people in our own amazing ways. We’ve also made friends with Paul and Miranda who are from Blackburn College in Illinois, a tiny school really close to St. Louis. They’re really nice people. Emily, a super nice Australian and Carly’s fellow civil engineer, also joined us. The bus ride back to Swansea flew by because we were talking to each other so much. I think the sign of a successful trip where everyone had fun is when everyone smiling the whole way home. Even though you left the city you were exploring, you’re happy because you’re with the people who made the trip amazing.

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