Why Wales? Entry #11: The Italian Adventure “Days 7&8”

Day 7  March 26, 2010

San Marino to Rome.  (2 becomes 4)

Day seven started out well planned, but many problems occurred. The plan was to get up at around 6:30, check out of the hotel by 7:20, get on the 8am bus back to Rimini for our train to Rome at 10:15.

The 8am bus to Rimini was the only bus that would get us there within the time frame, and provided a lot of extra time. The problem was that when we went to check out, the front desk was closed. Even though it was supposed to have 24 hr front desk- we had to wait until they came in, and we didn’t even pay yet.

The hotel workers finally arrived at 8:20 am, so we obviously missed our bus. We enjoyed a quick breakfast while we waiting for a taxi. The taxi cost 55 euros- and got us there just in time! Literally, as we got on the train, it pulled away. It was certainly a hectic morning, but things like that are a part of traveling. As much as you plan, somethings you just can’t plan for. I realize now that we should have taken care of the bill the night before to avoid this problem, but still, it happens.

We arrived in Rome around late afternoon and met up with Maggie and Justine. They spent the previous week in Malta enjoying some sunshine and island weather. Their day was even longer than ours, since they had arrived in Rome at 6:30 A.M that morning. That’s right- when we were just waking up, they were arriving in Rome.

Needless to say, we were all tired. We originally planned to go to the Vatican this day, but with the line and our luggage- we decided to skip it.

Instead we headed to our hostel, which was a country club (campground) outside of Rome. We took a 45 min metro ride and then a shuttle to the place. The place was pretty nice, but we wouldn’t reccomend it. Although it was cheaper than places in Rome, the time it took to get there wasn’t too nice.

We ate dinner at a restaurant at the hostel, and then crashed since we were so tired.

**A lot of the places visited on this leg of the trip I have seen before; I went to Italy in my junior year of high school. Part of the reason I wanted to go to Italy was not only to see new places, but also to revisit the place I’ve been and appreciate them better. Junior year, we went to Rome, Sorrento, Capris and Pompeii.**


Day 8  March 27, 2010

Rome in a day.

Most people will argue that you can’t do Rome in a day. Well, we did.

The only thing we missed was the Vatican, but we were okay with that. We decided to spend more time outside in the sunshine. We went to Circus Maximus, the Colloseum, the forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps- and more!

The best part was most likely our Italian dinner- we sat at a nice outdoor restaruant, andenjoyed delicious italian food. We had musicians by our side, and of course finished it off with some gelato.

Rome = amazing.

Why Wales? Entry #10: The Italian Adventure “Days 4-6”


Day 4 March 23, 2010

Piacenza & Venice

We had a short morning at Miriam and Lorenzo’s with some dilicious italian bread and coffee. After that Miriam rushed us to the train station to head back to Venice for another night. Our first train ended up being late, which delayed most of our day- but it was nice to relax a bit more on the train.

We arrived in Venice by 3pm, and the sun was shining. We were so glad that it was so nice out, because the first day we were there it was rather gray outside. The city is beautiful regardless, but it is magical when the sun is shining. We headed back to the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square to take sunny pictures.

We enjoyed delicious paninis in the square after the sun went down. Venice is beautiful at night!

We finished off the night with gelato and took some pastries back to the hotel.


Day 5 March 24, 2010

Goodbye Venice, Hello San Marino!

We checked out of our beautiful hotel and said goodbye to Venice. We were very excited about San Marino because we really didn’t know what to expect. 

San Marino is a very small country, inside of Italy. The city of San Marino, which is also the capital of San Marino is at the top (very top) of a mountain.

The Most Serene Republic of San Marino (pronounced /ˌsæn məˈriːnəʊ/ ( listen) SAN-mə-REE-noh; Italian: Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino) is a country situated in the Apennine Mountains. It is a landlocked enclave, completely surrounded by Italy. Its size is just over 61 km2 (24 sq mi) with an estimated population of almost 30,000. Its capital is the City of San Marino. One of the European microstates along with Liechtenstein, the Vatican, Monaco, Andorra, and Malta, San Marino has the smallest population of all the members of the Council of Europe.

We took the train from Venice Mestre Station to Rimini, a small town outside of San Marino. We then took a bus ride 45 minutes UP HILL! It was amazing, because we had no idea how high up we were going, and we just kept going up. Our ears actually popped while riding up the hill. The views were absolutely breathtaking, and we were so excited to start our adventures.

The bus dropped us off, and we looked in some gift shops and figured out how to get to our hostel. This is where we figured out that the people of San Marino do not speak any English. Luckily, my good friend Marissa spoke Italian fairly well! I was glad to have her there!

The shopkeeper actually called our hotel, and arranged for the hotel owner to come pick us up. The hotel was not far away, but the shopkeeper thought it would be nice, since we had our luggage and all. We were already impressed with the people and the views of San Marino. At first, we thought the shopkeeper called a taxi for us- but the hotel owner came to pick us up. 🙂

We headed to our hotel, which was a beautiful blue building- and had a magnificent view from the mountain from our balcony.

After getting settled in our room, we walked further up the mountain for some delicious pizza and gelato.

We hit the hay early to have a full day enjoying San Marino the next day.

San Marino Sunset

Our Hotel Room (The picture on the wall is an actual picture from the room's window)

View from our window (a bit foggy, because we were up so high we were actually in the clouds!)


Day 6  March 25, 2010

Our day started off with the hotel’s complimentary breakfast. The man helping us was so nice and so hospitable- we later figured out that he was Mario’s father; Mario was the owner/manager who picked us up the night before. This family run business was making our first impressions of San Marino even better.

It’s so interesting how much one can communicate without knowing the language. Although Marissa knew some Italian, both parties had to really work hard at understanding spoken language as well as body language and context clues. Often througout our trip, I was able to understand a lot without really knowing what they were saying. It’s remarkable how much we communicate non-orally.

We set out for the day, up the mountain. We stopped at a gift shop and bought some awesome mideval souvenirs and continued to the Museum of Curiosities. This museum was fairly similar to the Ripley’s Beleive it or Not Museum; it included facts about the tallest man, shortest woman, longest beard, etc. It was very interesting (and curious!) to walk through.

me, inbetween drawings of the tallest man and shortest woman.

We had lunch at a cafe on the edge of the cliff.


View from the cafe.

After lunch, we headed up to the 3 towers of San Marino. Tower 2 included a museum of ancient arms inside. It amazing to see the towers, as well as the views from the tops of the towers. We wandered a random path, which led us to a huge pile of snow (since it’s so high up, the nights get very cold and the snow doesn’t melt as fast). After some more gelato, we went back to the hotel to relax for a bit. We decided to go down the mountain for dinner. This area was a lot less touristy. The place we chose was empty when we got there, but by the time we ordered- it was packed! We had more pizza and some tartufo for dessert.

Looking back, San Marino is most likely my favorite place I have been on the Italian trip. It was so unique and beautiful that I felt as if I found a hidden gem of Europe. San Marino was in the perfect location for a half way point from Venice to Rome; we never expected it to be so beautiful and comfortable!

The next day we were excited not only because we were heading to Rome, but we would be meeting up with our friends: Maggie and Justine!

Why Wales? Entry #9: The Italian Adventure “Days 1-3”


Day 1.  March 20, 2010

Day one was a day of travel.

We were all set to take the megabus from Cardiff to London and then another bus to the London-Stansted Airport, but we realized the night before that that the times we planned did not give us enough time to check in to the airport. So we had to replan. A big part of traveling, especially independently is not only planning, but replanning. We were not only ready to see and do everything, but we were ready for things to go wrong- and times to not match up properly. We were able to fix it by taking a train to London instead. We took the train from Cardiff to London, then the tube to abother train station- and finally another train to the London Stansted airport, which took us to Venice.

We arrived in Venice around 11pm, and got to our hotel by midnight. Venice was so quiet and beautiful at night. After checking into our room, we wandered around a bit and enjoyed some water. We didn’t spend too long out since we wanted to get up early and enjoy the day.


Day 2 March 21st 2010

Venice and Piacenza

We started the day off realizing just how confusing it is to get around Venice. Since there are no roads, only waterways for boats, and small pathways for pedestrians; we seemed to be wandering aimlessly until we found a sign. The interesting thing is that even though there are official signs pointing to places of interest, there are apparently not enough. Some graffitti artists took it upon themselves to make sure that the tourists find their way.

We enjoyed some italian pastries and then went to the Rialto Bridge. The city is beautiful from all angles! We shopped in the stores and admired the multitude of Murano Glass. We then headed to St. Mark’s Square and enjoyed some pizza and gelato as the infamous pigeons flew about.

After a casual day in the city, we went to the train station to head to Piacenza. Piacenza is a small city where Marissa’s family lives. She has met these second cousins (Lorenzo and Miriam) several times, but this was the first time she visited them on her own. We arrived at their lovely home where a late dinner had been prepared for us. We met both of their mothers, who are stereotypical Italian grandmothers. They would make sure we were well fed, and taken care of. Even though I couldn’t communicate with them, I really enjoyed being around them. We also met Miriam and Lorenzo’s daughter who is 22 years old.

Dinner was delicious! Tortellini, and plenty of it! All the food was amazing. It was such an experience to be with a real Italian family and enjoy a real Italian meal.


Day 3 March 22, 2010


We woke up around 9am, and enjoyed some breakfast as the grandmothers did their best with conversing. I was surprised how much I was able to understand without knowing any Italian. Since I used to major in French, the similarites, as well as the context and body language made it easier to understand.

After breakfast, Lorenzo and Miriam took us on a walking tour of Piacenza. It is a small city, but very beautiful. We saw many churches, and enjoyed some tea at the theater cafe. After a few hours out, we headed back to their home for lunch. This lunch had so much food I had to double check the clock and make sure it wasn’t dinner. I wasn’t expecting so much food for lunch!

We relaxed a bit more, and then headed back out to Castell’ Arquato which is outside of Piacenza. The views from Castell’ Arquato were amazing, and the castle was so grand. Then we headed to a mideval village called Grazano Visconti .

Upon returning home, Miriam provided us with cozy slippers and we relaxed until dinner. Dinner was pizza, with assorted meats, cheeses, and vegetables.

The time I spent in Piacenza with Marissa’s family was one of the best experiences. Not only did I get to have real Italian cuisine, but I met her wonderful family. Lorenzo and Miriam were so friendly and hospitable and really enjoyed having us there. It made me miss speaking a foreign language because I wanted to express how thankful I am for their generosity. I will be sending them a thank you card soon. Spending the time in Piacenza made the Italian adventure unique. 🙂

The view outside our window in Piacenza.



Why Wales? Entry #8: The Italian Adventure “Planning”

Why Wales?

Well the obvious reason is that we had 3 weeks off for Spring break!

Now, classes are important, but so is travel. Three weeks off allows us to choose places outside of the UK and truly taste that traveling bug that has been fluttering around us since we initially decided to study abroad.


Planning 3 weeks of spring break is tough. There is so many places to go. Out of the 9 Americans here, only one knew where she was going.

 Meg had her trips planned early. Malta, Barcelona, and Ireland.  She had a friend in Malta and Barcelona, and her mom would be flying in for some quality time in Ireland. Everyone was welcomed to join her.

and most people did.

Christine, Maggie, Justine, and Meg spend their first week in Malta; a small island south of Sicily.

As for me, it took me a while to decide. It went from Italy to Greece, to Croatia, to Malta, to specifically Venice, and then back to the drawing board.

Nina was originally going to spend the week with Marissa and myself in Italy for the first week, but then decided to go the independent route. She ended up having a great time in Amsterdam with the psych club.

Garrett was planning on skiing the alps, and Elysse was set on Italy. She had a friend in Italy, which always helps travel. Having friends around the areas makes it easier to plan the days, since one city is more probable to match with the dates that the friend is available.

The problem was that there was so many places to go. How do we get there? How do we get around once we are there? Some of us were considering meeting others inbetween their travels. How could we assure we would meet up?

After a lot of planning, we finally set an itinerary. Everybody had a place to go, hostels/hotels were booked, and flights there and back had been arranged.

The first week was to start off like this:

  • From Cardiff- to London.
  • Fly from London, England to Venice, Italy via RyanAir.
  • One night in Venice.
  • Spend most of the next day in Venice, then
  • take the train to Piacenza where Marissa’s family lives.
  • 2 nights with her lovely italian family.
  • back to Venice via train for one more night.
  • head to San Marino via train.
  • 2 nights in San Marino
  • head to Rome via train to meet Maggie and Justine (who were in Malta with Meg and Christine for week 1)

Week 2:

  • Rome
  • Naples
  • Florence
  • Venice

Week three:

Originally I was determined to spend all 3 weeks out, but as expences greatened- and laundry dirtied…. being back on campus for the third week sounded better and better. Original plans included more of Italy, Romania, and random Welsh adventures. We ended up just relaxing and doing laundry, but more about that later.

I packed my favorite suitcase (15 days worth into a carryon!!) and was ready to go!

My suitcase fit 15 days of travel, and can be used as a backpack or with wheels! 🙂

We (Maggie, Justine, and myself) also purchased EURAIL passes from eurail.com. This way all our tickets for local trains were taken care of.  We only needed to purchase a seat reservation if it was a high speed train.

More on its way: from day 1 to day 15!


Why Wales? Entry #7: Ireland Adventure.

Ireland. was. amazing.

Reading Week. It is a week given to the students so that they have extra time to prepare for exams, and catch up on their reading, etc. Needless to say, ‘reading’ was not going to be a part of my Reading Week- except for maps, street signs and menus. My reading week was going to consist of an Irish adventure… with 3 of my best friends whom I only met less than 2 months ago. Go Figure! I received this message from Christine, which opened the invite up to everyone and further confirmed that this trip was happening.

 OKEY so for those who want to go to Ireland during reading week, we should start to book flights. I was thinking we should go Saturday February 27- Wednesday or thursday March 3rd or 4th! Sound good? I wanted to leave thursday or friday but they are expensive because they all have extra fees and taxes and they are at 6am which would be ridiculous to try n make. So Saturday has a 8:25pm flight for 35pounds total and then for leaving wed or thursday there are no fees and it is only 8pounds! Lemme know cuz we gotta start booking!!!

That was only the beginning. As it turned out, the only people able to come were the same people who went to London weeks earlier. As sad as we were that the others couldn’t adventure with us, we were happy that the four of us were traveling together again. 🙂

We decided to fly into Dublin. I bought a new suitcase that I can test out and see if it will work for the Italian adventure to come over Spring break. Anyway, we flew into Dublin via Ryan Air, and took the bus to our hostel. This was our first hostel where we didn’t have a private room. It was definately an experience being in the room with strangers and trying to avoid awkward situations. The Shining Hostel was actually really nice! The people were really friendly, and the rooms were clean.

top bunk! Our hostel.

We were delighted with a plentiful breakfast of bread and butter. 8 beds in the room, 4 of us. The first night we met 2 really nice girls who were studying in England I think. We actually saw them the next morning when we were leaving for our bus tour.

That's our roommates, riding bikes!

We  also met two girls traveling from outside the UK- it’s so cool to meet so many different people. So as I said, we started day one with some delisious bread and butter. But since bread and butter isn’t filling, we had to go elsewhere and get some real food.

This was the day we were set to discover Dublin. We bought a bus ticket that takes you around the city and provides you with an audio tour. These tickets were valid for 24 hours, so we could hop on and hop off the bus at any time and spend time at a museum or whatnot. We didn’t do too much the first day besides the bus tour. A lot of the things that are typical things to do didn’t seem worth the money once we got there. We ended up walking around the city taking a lot of pictures and enjoying eachother’s company.

We did some shopping (I bought some doughnuts, as usual) and went out for the night. We went to a club called Sin, where some Irish boys were telling us (over and over again) how amazing Ireland is. Ireland is amazing. 🙂

The second day was the most adventurous, and is tied with the third day for different reasons. We were set off to try to find the location where ‘P.S I Love You’ was filmed. It was in this park with a waterfall and whatnot. We never made it to that location, but where we did end up made the entire trip so worthwile.

We took the bus to Eniskerry, which is the small town that was supposed to lead us to the scenes of the movie. We got off the bus, and our good friend Christine led the way with her wanderings. We went down a small path to a beautiful church and cemetary alongside a field with ponies. We then headed back on the road up the random road. We knew we were headed in the right direction for the Wiklow Park where the movie was filmed- we just didn’t know the distance.

Ireland is beautiful.

The air was so crisp, and it was so nice to finally get out of the city for a while and see the green green grass of Ireland. We veered off the road and discovered a stream and collected unique rocks.

Pac-Man Rock!

As we were walking down the road, we came across our only sign of human interaction. Along the side of the road, a coach bus driver was stopped at a station of some sorts and was washing his bus. We chatted with him for a while and the asked him for some directions. Since we were wandering about for such a long time, we were sort of hungry. He told us that the closest place with food was a gas station that was pretty far, but not nearly as far as our original destination. So, we headed to the gas station, which the man also informed us is right by a bus station to take us back to Dublin.

Along the way, we kept the same leisurely pace, and took lots of photographs. We passesd a house where a little boy was in the front, and he was singing the “mama mia” song. It was adorable. Then as we’re walking, we here a car coming, and to our surprise it was our friend with his coach bus. He offered us a lift, not only to the gas station- but to a great city on the coast, Dun Laoghaire. We accepted. On the way there, he pointed out several points of interest including Bono’s house. He suggested a few things to see in Dun Laoghaire and also reccomended to take the train to the peninsula of Howth.

We decided to do that, and immidiately fell in love with it. Howth is a small fishing villiage on a penninsula of Ireland. We ended up spending a good part of the last day there hiking. We hiked up a tall mountain and saw incredible views.

At the top of the mountain in Howth.

Ireland was one of the greatest trips, because my experience was so unique. It was the first trip where we left the city and explored some of the country. It was nice to see some of the country, because it really made it special. The city attractions are nice too, but the balance of city and country on the Ireland trip made it extra special!


Why Wales? Entry #6: I’ll take Welsh weather over NY weather any day.

The one thing people warned me most against Wales was the weather.

Everyone warned me that is is rediculously wet and cold all the time.

I for one, have not experienced this at all.

I can officially say that Spring has sprung in Cardiff, and I love it. Today is the first day that I can walk outside with short sleeves. These are my favorite kinds of days.

On my walk to campus today, I began to think about the winter we just had. Wales has incredibly mild weather. Yes, it has rained a lot, but it has never been a rain all day type of rain.

New Paltz weather… no thank you. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Cooper)

Cardiff Weather…. it doesn’t snow here

And comparing the weather we have had in Wales, to the winter everyone has been experiencing in New Paltz… I’m glad I’m here.

I came to Wales prepared with a giant winter coat, which I didn’t need. By the second week I already bought a smaller jacket. In NY, when it gets cold, it gets cold (this is where actual temperatures would be useful, but I don’t have those). I feel like by studying abroad I missed a horrendous winter I would have otherwise experienced. That is good considering I hate winter. 🙂

Along with enjoying the beautiful weather, we have also been going on lots of adventures. Cardiff is an amazing place to live. One of the days, we headed down to Cardiff Bay. One of my friends, Marissa wanted to go to the Doctor Who exhibit. (Doctor Who is a well known welsh TV show which she is very into.) I went down to the bay with her and enjoyed the exhibit, while the rest of our group joined us later for lunch.

We enjoyed some delicious fish and chips and then some ice cream by the water. The entire area is beautiful and it makes me realize how much Cardiff has to offer. Since the bay is separate from the city center, I often forget about how beautiful it is, or how much there is to do down there. There’s plenty of stores, restaurants, and a movie theater too.

While at the bay, we saw the Welsh Bockers practicing. It was very cool!

After hanging around, we went back to our rooms, and watched some movies.  🙂

Why Wales? Entry #5 London Love

One of my friends here was planning on going to London for the weekend to meet up with a friend that she hasn’t seen in 13 years. Since she was planning on going anyway, she decided to invite some others and make a mini-vacation out of it.

I went to London last year with some friends while one friend was studying abroad there. For some reason I forgot how amazing London is. Of course when people asked if I wanted to go, I accepted the offer- but I wasn’t nearly as excited as I should have been. I figured I would be seeing the same things, and doing the same stuff, but with three different people- the entire experience was unlike my previous London adventure. It was an experience that ultimately bonded us four travelers and created everlasting friendships amongst the four of us.

We got to London on Friday evening and had dinner at The Shakespeare Pub. It was just the three of us (me, Maggie, and Christine) until our other friend Justine met us there.

When Justine arrived, we had to figure out how to get to our hostel… bus, tube, taxi… how to get tickets…

We finally decided on a taxi, just because we were so tired. We took it to Hyde Park, and checked into the Hyde Park Hostel. This hostel was rather sketchy, but that made the experience more rich and lively. We were lucky enough to get a room just for the four of us. This was nice because we were able to relax in the room whenever neccesary.
Justine didn’t eat yet, so we found this waffle house near our hostel… This waffle house had the most amazing waffles ever, and was perhaps the highlight of our trip. We would travel back to London just for the waffles!

After Waffle-mania, we headed to experience the London night life. We ended up going to this cool London club, and after leaving decided to walk back to our hostel. Although it was freezing, this walk back gave us a unique view of the beautiful city, because London was so quiet. It is interesting to see a city that is so busy all day long, so silent. We walked home past Buckingham Palace, and saw many sights in the late late hours of the night.

Since we really only had one day in London, we needed to plan accordingly. I didn’t really put much say in, since I have seen and expirienced London’s magic previously. We headed to the Natural History Museum, which was an amazing museum. As an education major, I really enjoyed this museum. It was so hands on and interactive. It was filled with sayings and quotations which brought the facts all together. I would love to take my class here on a field trip… perhaps it’s just a bit too far.

We only saw one aspect of the museum (the Earth, volcanoes, etc), since our stomachs were growling. Believe it or not, there were not many places to eat around the museum, so we went to Kings Cross, and prior to finding food- we went to platform 9 3/4. We found a great little cafe to eat at, and had yet another plate of fish and chips (I can’t get enough!).

After that, we decided not to go back to the museum, but to head to see Big Ben. Big Ben is beautiful. We took un obseen amount of photos, and proceded to adventure into the city.

Somewhere along the way we hit Buckingham Palace. We also rode the London eye, and enjoyed the 4D expirience.
Our stomachs were growling yet again, so we searched, and searched for dinner. We almost ate at the Sherlock Holmes pub, but it was too pricey/crowded. We ended up at Garfunkle’s- to enjoy a lovely burger and chips.

Then, the best part of the night! We decided not to go out again, we went back to the WAFFLE HOUSE… we got waffles to go. We also went to the store around the corner, and bought cans of whipped cream, and large amounts of junk food. We felt sick afterwards, but it was sooo good! Poor Christine dropped her chocolate covered waffle all over the floor. (I wouln’t eat anything that fell on the hostel floor, but she tried to pick at it, haha)

Next morning, we got ready, and went to see Peter Pan. There is a statue of Peter Pan, which was put there by JM Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. The statue was erected in the middle of the night, to seem as if Peter arrived by magic for the children. This was in the newspaper following the statue being erected.

“There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning. Down by the little bay on the south-western side of the tail of the Serpentine they will find a May-day gift by Mr J.M. Barrie, a figure of Peter Pan blowing his pipe on the stump of a tree, with fairies and mice and squirrels all around. It is the work of Sir George Frampton, and the bronze figure of the boy who would never grow up is delightfully conceived.”

After viewing the statue, Maggie left us to go back to Cardiff, as Christine, Justine and I kept exploring.Along one street we found all artwork for sale. We strolled down the street admiring the amazing talent. We all discussed our wishes for the money to buy all of this artwork and fill our homes with it. We then grabbed a bite to eat, and headed to the British Museum.

After the British Museum, it was time to say goodbye to Justine. She was off to reunite with her  friend she hasn’t seen for 13 years! This was the sole purpose for going to London. Christine and I ventured off to enjoy some crepes at a creperie, and then did some shopping/wandering.

We got our bus back to Cardiff at around 6:30, and got back home in time for the superbowl! I, thankfully opted out. I must say I was happy to be in the UK for the superbowl, where it didn’t really matter if you watched it or not.

Why wales? Entry #4- Venturing out to Swansea.

Going to Swansea was somewhat spontaneous; we only decided on going the day before. We didn’t consider the weather or the cost… we were ready to see a new city.
Swansea is the second largest city in Wales.. and it was not that big at all. We were there for pretty much the entire day… it was beautiful. It was much smaller and quainter than Cardiff. I didn’t feel like I was in such a giant city anymore, which was nice. We had lunch at a diner that was the filming location for ‘Doctor Who’, which is a well known Welsh TV show. One of the Americans in our group is a fan of the show and wanted to eat there. We were the only people there under 90, but the food was great, and we had a good time.

We also went to the Swansea museum, which was a cute little ‘ma and pa’ museum that had a bunch of random stuff on Welsh history.

Then we finally found the Dylan Thomas museum. I only really knew of Dylan Thomas from his mention in the movie Dangerous Minds (have you seen it?), but it was really interesting to learn about his life. He only lived to be 39, and he was such an influence on many works.
 Swansea was where he was born, and although he lived many years in the US, he seemed to always return back to Wales. It was really interesting and inspiring to view his works, as I also was satified in a new way. This is because through seeing the Dylan Thomas museum, I fianlly felt that I saw something that I could not see anywhere else. I learned of something specifically related to Wales.. which was pretty cool.

My flatmate is actually from Swansea, and was very surprised when I told her we were venturing out there for a day.
She said that as nice as Swansea can be now, it is even nicer in the late Spring and Summer. She said she would take us back and bring us to the nice beaches in Swansea. I can’t wait.
I really can’t wait for it to be nice out though! The weather here is not as bad as we expected, but I still love the warm weather. I can’t wait to be able to leave my room without a jacket!

Why Wales? Entry #3: Discovering and Appreciating Cardiff.

Today is February 11th, which means that I have been on this journey for  25 days. Almost a month! It is unreal for me to look back at all the paperwork and saving and see that not only am I here, but I have been here for some time now. Enough time now, to be comfortable in the city. Enough time now, for the large capital of Wales to seem not so large anymore, and in ways, not so exciting. That is a good thing, however, because it clarifies that Cardiff is becoming my home. I truly love it here. In the 25 days that I have been here, I have explored not only Cardiff, but also ventured out to Swansea and London. Those trips not only opened my eyes to the world around me, but also helped me appreciate Cardiff more. More about those trips later, I now present…. Cardiff.

At the orientation meeting when we first arrived, they didn’t tell us too much about Cardiff (or perhaps they did, and we were just too flustered with the new situations that some of the information didn’t seep through to my little gray cells). Anyway, we were told that it is the capital city of Wales, it is friendly, and it is safe.

Now, safeness (security) we have been warned is not true. Well, maybe according to statistics, but we still have to take the same precautions as we would anywhere.

Cardiff, is indeed the capitol city of Wales.

I must take a moment to remark on the friendly people of Cardiff. I don’t seem to notice it as much now, but the friendly people of Cardiff is what made my first experiences so stress free. I assume you read in the previous blog of my first day in Cardiff. Unlike the other study abroad programs, the New Paltz students studying abroad at Cardiff were not picked up at the airport; we had to find our own way to our place of living. Normally, this would have been a very daunting situation. Growing up so close to New York City, asking for help is more often than not discouraged. I had to remind myself that we were not in the U.S anymore, and that reactions may be different. I’m not sure if we would have ever made it to our halls if we did not stop and ask perfect strangers. Some people would even overhear our conversations and offer assistance.

I know, this can happen anywhere. The fact is that it happened in Cardiff, strengthening my positive first impression.

According to wikipedia.org…

Cardiff (pronounced /ˈkɑrdɪf/ ( listen), Welsh: Caerdydd (info)) is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales. The city is Wales’ chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. According to recent estimates, the population of the unitary authority area is 324,800.[2] Cardiff is a significant tourism centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 11.7 million visitors in 2006.[3]

Accepting that, I have also been told that Cardiff thrives primarily due to Cardiff Univeristy. The man that discussed this with me was a Cardiff taxi driver, who said that Cardiff is not so busy when school is not in session. I found this surpirsing, because although Wales might not be first on everyone’s list of vacation spots to go to… Cardiff does have a lot to offer.

My favorite thing about Cardiff has a lot to do with the hall that I live in. My hall is the furthest from campus… 2 miles. Although we have buses which take us to and from campus, I usually opt to walk home. On these walks home (and sometimes to campus, if I’m not in a rush) I can leisurely discover Cardiff. My home is in Penylan, which I guess is comparable to a borough of Cardiff. I turn down Birchwood Lane onto Ty-Gwinn Road, and follow that to Albany Road, which is where there are tons of stores and whatnot…. but, if you go the opposite way down Birchwood Lane, you will find yourself at Roath Park. My hall, being so far outside of the city center is more like a small village, and Roath Park is where everyone gathers. There is a lake there, along with a path that goes around the lake’s perimeter. There are also many playgrounds and gardens. That is what I love most about Cardiff- the fact that I can sit by the lake watching the ducks, or I can go into the city center for some shopping and dining. The best of both worlds.

I am thankful to call Cardiff my home.

Cardiff Castle

view of the city including Cardiff Castle

the road I live on.

Roath Park Lake



View on my way home.

Why Wales Entry #2- Planes, Trains, and Buses.

There are four New Paltz students (including myself) studying abroad in Cardiff. It is interesting to me, how we have all attended this small school for at several years, and never even knew of each other. Surprising to the both of us, one of the travellers not only shared a class and a major with me, but also lived in the apartment above me in town. As for the other two, we only had a few mutual friends on facebook. We met at the pre-departure orientation, and have been facebooking ever since. It’s interesting how four perfect strangers all heading in the same direction can become such great friends. 

Day one, I arrived at JFK airport way ahead of schedule. I said goodbye to my sister and brother-in-law, and headed to check my bag. After a quick hello/goodbye with one of my best friends, I went down through security and waited for boarding time. As I was so early, I didn’t expect the other two NP travellers to be there for a while. Ironically, I sat there for about 45 minutes before noticing that Nina, the other traveller from New Paltz was sitting in front of me in the waiting area. 


The plane was ahead of schedule, so we had extra time to do nothing in Amsterdam. Even though there was nothing to do during our layover, we were punchy from not sleeping on the plane, so we found things to do. We found these awesome kiddie chairs that we just had to take pictures on. 


We also enjoyed some Starbucks to keep us awake to enjoy our first impressions of Cardiff, and we asked a not so friendly woman what time it was. 

-“Excuse me… Do you know what time it is?”
–“There is a clock on zie wall!”
-“okay, thank you!” 

Seriously, you had to be there. 

We finally hop on the plane in a ‘city hopper’ that will take us to Cardiff.  

We get to Cardiff. (Customs was a breeze!) We get to the baggage claim area where it is just me, Nina, and Christine waiting for our luggage. Christine grabs hers. Nina snatches hers off the conveyer belt. I wait. Approximately 30 seconds later, a gentleman politely comes over and informs me that ‘if my luggage has not yet arrived… it will not be arriving.’ …great. 

But still, I’m in Wales! 

That’s why the whole luggage thing didn’t get me down. I was finally in Wales. After all the forms, and packing, and saving, I was finally here. Plus, it was nice to have my hands free to take pictures rather than wheeling my luggage around. 

From the airport, we took a bus to a train to a bus to a taxi. We took the taxi to Christine’s dorm (we decided to take each other to each dorm rather than individually getting lost). After Christine’s we made it over to Nina’s dorm. Then we had to take several busses to make it to my dorm (hall). 

There we met up with Meg, the missing link from New Paltz who was adventuring for about 8 days in the UK before our arrival. She already knew about my luggage fiasco and was excited for some dinner and shopping. 

I joined Meg for a ‘two for £5.50’ meal deal at The Royal George. It was here that we discussed our adventures getting here, and the adventures to come. We hiked our way back to University Hall, knowing that this is only the beginning. 

Team New Paltz.