British Studies 2014

kimiekelly's Having Fun Abroad album on Photobucket

Cardiff Central Library - Cardiff, Wales - Friday - July 4th

Since we had the weekend free Mary, Alyssa and I had made plans to visit Cardiff, Wales.  We did our best before we left to make arrangements for our stay.  However, when we arrived in Cardiff, we quickly discovered that we had not planned out how to get from the train station to our hostel.  It was decided that the best thing to do was visit the library in Cardiff and see if they could help us (or at least we could use the WiFi for free there).  We easily found Cardiff Central Library.  It is an impressively modern building located in the heart of the city.  The building is 6 stories high and boasts gorgeous views of the city below. 

View of bicycles parked along the side of the Cardiff Central Library
We used the elevator to travel between floors and, as you can tell from the picture below, we were quite excited to be there.   

Entrance to Cardiff Central Library

Interior view courtesy of

I was surprised at how modern the building is.  Not only is it a library but, from my view, it is a work of art.  Its design is part of the city effort to regenerate Cardiff.  The exterior of the building is meant to look like books on shelves. 

Cardiff Central in the day

Cardiff Central at night
While Cardiff has offered a public library since 1861, this particular building was opened in 2009.  It is an example of sustainable architecture and is designed to be energy-efficient.   It has a grass roof to improve insulation and absorb rainwater.  Solar shading throughout the building optimizes natural daylight while protecting the building from excessive heat. 
The grass covered roof of Cardiff Central photo courtesy of BBC News

 To my surprise the ground floor level of the library offers housed three chain restaurants (Wagamama, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Carluccio’s).  Each of these restaurants has an outside entrance.  While it seemed strange at first it does make sense that the library can attract people to the building with these businesses.  The website for this particular Wagamama even boasts its location as “on the ground floor of the fantastic Cardiff Central Library, Wagamama is a great place to eat and drink during learning or relaxing”. 

Entrance to Wagamama located on ground floor of Car
Unfortunately, when we tried to access the WiFi we realized a library card number and PIN were necessary.  At the time I assumed we would not be able to join, as we were not residents of Cardiff.  However, according to their website, the public can join with an International Student Identification Card (ISIC).  In hind sight, it would have been cool to have a Cardiff library card.   
Police Warning in library.  Everything in Wales is written in English and in Welsh.

After one night in Cardiff we travelled, by bus, to Brecon, Wales and then Bwlch.  Our plan was to visit the waterfalls in Brecon Beacons National Park.  We realized too late that traveling to and from the park is not easy without a car.  Instead, we spent the night in Bwlch, figuring out how to find a way back to London on a Sunday.   There are no buses traveling to/from Bwlch on Sundays.  For this reason the hostel manager, Rhys, was kind enough to offer us a ride back to Brecon the next morning.  Rhys tells us that he is from Wales and learned how to speak Welsh in school.  There is a large push for the Welsh people to learn it.  Rhys and his wife send their son to a Welsh school so he can learn it as well.    

From Brecon we had to catch a bus back to Cardiff and then a train from Cardiff back to London.  To put it lightly, traveling around the continent takes a lot of time, planning and a fare amount of money.  But, I would not trade our experience and it was well worth the time, money and effort.  It was thoroughly enjoyable.  I learned a great deal about the country of Wales and spent time talking to the locals I met on the bus, train and in the hostels.