Living and Exploring Wales (UK)

by Mayana Inn Mundo

Friday, May 4, 2018

Moving to Wales

Wales: Land of Cliffs, sea and countryside… Pubs, Dylan Thomas and Swansea Football Club (not sure which of those is better known nowadays).
Wales doesn’t really represent a touristic point, I would say. I wouldn’t think about having this small country in my list for a by-purpose-visit, rather more, a place that one considers to stop by while visiting U.K., doing a road trip is a good way for exploring Wales, for instance.

Wales, Day 1

Arriving in Wales by the end of January means winter. A windy, freezing cold, winter.
How to end up your first day of work in Wales? Well, in an old style decorated Pub, with famous Dylan Thomas phrases painted on the walls, and guns, and old portraits. Still hangover of travel, almost drunk with only one pint of cider (only almost!)
Thinking in my life, relating well with Dylan Thomas in this one:
“Somebody’s boring Me, I think it’s me”.

The Three Cliff’s Bay

Walk on the beach, a beautiful spot to walk and play with the dog. Take some photos, chill, enjoy the warm weather, maybe the winter will be end soon. (That’s a very innocent thought to have in February).
This is probably one of the most visited places in Wales. Beautiful, indeed!

“The Three Cliffs beach”

Swansea

The second biggest city in Wales.
In most of the countries, that means it’s a big and interesting city. But I was wrong thinking this would be the case. Maybe, just maybe, it’s useful, before moving somewhere…to do some research to have a real idea about how is to live there, not only “the weather and the number of vegan restaurants”.
Wales is a small country and a city here looks more like a small village in most of the countries I previously lived.

It’s a bit peculiar, surrounded by the sea and so close to the countryside.
There are several green areas, gardens, a Botanical garden (in Singleton Park) and other parks (Brynmil, Cwmdonkin, etc) probably one of the best parts of living there.
An easy plan for some hours or day-off in the city, to go until one of the gardens, watch the birds, taking some photos, there are also squirrels, people walking the dogs, children playing.Some brave people doing sports, running, even with the freezing temperatures!

“walking through the city centre”

Doesn’t really feel like a social or multicultural place, but by the opposite. People don’t look very open or interested in talking or meeting with foreigners/travellers.
Meeting local people is always a good way of getting to know more about the history of the city and its people are;
Otherwise, there are places one can visit in order to do so, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery – recently renewed. And the National Waterfront Museum. Both places are for free entrance. But other interesting museums can be found.

Glynn Vivian, Art Gallery

Is now a modern space (recently renovated and reopened), with some permanent and temporary exhibitions, events, activities and many rooms where one can encounter a peaceful space to read or write, to work in one personal projects or simply meditate in life… Or over a coffee in Glynn Vivian’s Cafe too.

The National Waterfront Museum

Is spacious, with a nice view over the Marina, from the second floor. Permanent and temporary exhibitions can be discovered here too, some events happening often, in celebration of dates but not only.
Here, one can learn more about Wales famous writers, poets, painters. It’s easy to understand one of their biggest names is Dylan Thomas. There are portraits even in garden benches, the name is written, etc.

Bad points for Swansea

Most stores and places closing time is at 5 pm – which is considered for many as ‘tea time’ or even ‘dinner time’. Also, many restaurants close too early (6 pm), at least for my chosen ‘dinner time’. There are others until later, supermarkets and pubs also open until later.

“Cwmdonkin Park”

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4 in 1, Weather

Typically United Kingdom, Wales present most of the days with a moody 4 seasons in the same day… Either a forever winter. Either a sunny but windy day.
I used to think that near the sea, there’s hardly ever snow. Wrong. Quite wrong in Swansea. It’s cold, it’s freezing, it snows. Maybe 2018 winter was richer in snow than previous winters. I saw snow, many days. Rain is also a one day yes, one day no, presence. Rain shows up.
Spring has arrived but very shy. I left, and it was still raining.

Arriving – Leaving Wales

The main airport is Cardiff, but Bristol has more connections (and usually cheaper ones).
Bus (cheaper) and Train (faster) connection with London or between other cities. Both are better be booked at least a few days before (online), or prices can be double, especially in routes to any airport, and/or bought to the driver.

“Wales in winter”

Vegan in Swansea

Impressively, there is a vegan supermarket in Swansea, called Brontosaurus! It’s actually inside the market, a bit difficult to find, but totally worth a visit!
Fruit and veggies can be found in that same city market, and supermarkets are full of healthy and less healthy vegan food. Just similar to the offer in all U.K. supermarkets.
Besides the regular markets, there are some Saturday and/or Sunday street markets, in several points of the city, one of those is the Marina market, near the National Waterfront Museum.
There are social media pages, events, activism for animals rights.

Vegan Food in Restaurants

One can find most vegan-friendly places in “Happy Cow” and “Eat Out Wales” web pages.
Many restaurants with vegan options. One fully vegan restaurant, Canteen 18, which I end up not trying, due to the early closed timing (17h) but it looks much like fast-food options.
One very nice vegetarian restaurant, Govinda’s – homemade, Indian style food. A very nice space, besides the restaurant, they have some books and other food and eco-friendly household products to sell.
More eco-friendly products can be purchased in the Environment Center, which has a small store, café place, and hosts several events, often, aiming to engage the population for a more sustainable lifestyle.
Not bad. Not bad at all, for a small city.

Actually, I’ve been founding vegan cakes, cookies, vegetal drinks to go with coffee/tea, in many places.
Yes, ‘vegetal drink’ (aka vegetal milk) to go with tea, because I’m talking about U.K. where most of the people who drink black tea, don’t drink it ‘solo’. (I’ve found quite amusing, reading about the struggle of these people, in finding the perfect vegetal ‘milk’ to drink with their tea.

 

“Brynmill Park, Swansea”

by Mayana Inn Mundo

by Mayana Inn Mundo

World Traveler, Vegan, Environmentalist, Photo-reporter and Freelance Writer. "Traveling: the joy of arriving in new surroundings, wandering, exploring, getting a little lost and amazed with the particularities of each place, nature, culture... architecture, street art, to learn and experience a little the true essence of each place"

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