Europe / My Travels / UK - Wales

Wales, UK: The Christmas We Grew Up In

“The older you get, the more you find yourself looking for things you used to see
and liked when you were younger.”
– Jonathan Pryce (Tony and Olivier awardee from Wales)

Wales, United Kingdom | December 2017

My husband and I planned to have our Christmas holiday in 2017 in the UK for the first time since we got married. It will be a special trip not just because it’s Christmas but because it’s his mum’s 70th birthday and his nan’s 99th birthday! (It’s also his brother’s birthday, btw). I am equally excited because I’ve been celebrating my Christmases in the last 6 years here in Dubai and I want something different this time.

I always dreamed of a white Christmas (that sounds like the song, hmmm, lol!) but I know that this may not come true for this trip because it’s rare to snow in England. But guess what, it snowed!

It snowed just a day after I arrived! I arrived 2 weeks earlier than my husband so I wasn’t able to experience it with him, he was jealous too that he was still in Dubai that time. By the time he arrived England, the snow were already melted. We spent some days in Stroud (where he is from) then we all went to Blackpool to celebrate Christmas with his nan who lives there.

 

We were supposed to stay for 4 days in Blackpool, but my husband and I decided to go back to Stroud a day earlier because we were supposed to meet one of his friends in Bristol. Blessing in disguise, his friend cancelled last minute and instead of staying at their home we decided to just drive to Wales! I was very excited because finally, I will be able to complete my UK list of countries! Yay!

I’ve been very blessed with this trip because the next morning when we were about to head off to Wales, it snowed again!!! Woohoo!!!! My husband was very happy too because he has never had snow back home for a long time already, and also it is our very first snow together. Yeah, big deal, so what? Haha!

Welsh snowman at Brecon’s Beacons National Park :P

Wales is known for its natural beauty, castles, and very rich Celtic culture that are very different from the rest of the UK that they even have their own language, the Welsh. Although they speak English, the road signs are in both English and Welsh.

Since we only planned to stay overnight, we decided to just go to the southern part, coming from Stroud it’s only around 1-2hrs to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. But we started our roadtrip from Brecon then Caerphilly then reaching Cardiff in the evening.

Roadtrip to snowy Wales.

 

 

BRECON

On our way to Brecon, we drove to the gorgeous mountainous part of Brecon Beacons National Park that is covered with snow! We saw a lot of people enjoying the snow and the view! We stopped by for awhile as well and we see people hiking and atop some of the peaks.

Food trucks at Brecons Beacons National Park

 

Then we stopped by a medieval Raglan Castle at Mountmouthshire but unfortunately it was close at that time perhaps because of the holiday, we’re not sure. We walked around outside the castle and it was lovely, we even saw a field with flocks of sheep despite the snow.

 

Upon reaching the town of Brecon, it was already sunny. We walked around this gorgeous tiny town which is typical in Wales, we saw the Brecon Cathedral and went inside some of the cute little shops there. Since it was tiny town only, we left quite soon enough and head to Caerphilly.

 

CAERPHILLY

In around half an hour, we already reached Caerphilly, just about time for late lunch! So we stopped at a pub called Court House Pub which is in a 13th century old building. We sat inside because it was very cold, but we went outside at the back of the pub because it has a nice view of the Caerphilly Castle.

Court House pub’s deck viewing Caerphilly Castle

 

Caerphilly Castle is the 2nd largest castle in all UK (next to Windsor) and surrounded by artificial lake as the castle’s water defences. It was built in the 13th century as well as most of the buildings around this town. We didn’t walk around town just around the castle because the sun was about to set soon and we want to reach Cardiff earlier.

 

On our way to Cardiff, we stopped by quickly first to Castell Coch, I am just not so sure how the Welsh pronounce this, lol! It was a a castle similar to fairy tales, it’s not that huge but we saw more people hanging out around it because it has an overlooking view of the Cardiff city and the silhouette of the castle behind the sunset is just beautiful!

 

CARDIFF

We reach the capital city of Cardiff around 5 or 6pm already, quite dark already during the winter, so the Christmas lights along St. Mary’s and High Street welcomed us and I am again happy as a child! Although some of the snow in Cardiff have already melted :(

 

We had our dinner first at Yard Bar & Kitchen a pub in a converted brewery quarter. I had my very first pint of Brains, a Welsh local beer. I actually wanted to hang out at Prince of Wales pub because it reminded me of my favorite pub in Singapore which is also called the Prince of Wales, but my husband told me that this is one of the grotty pubs in Cardiff, haha!

 

We checked in at Royal Hotel which is just opposite the Brewery Quarter, it’s the oldest hotel in Cardiff but it’s newly renovated to modern design, however retaining some of the architectural features of an old Victorian style. Our room has the view of the Principality Stadium, unfortunately there was no rugby game that night! Next to England’s rugby team, Wales team is my husband’s 2nd favorite team, they really are a good team as this is their national sport.

We parked our car beside the stadium’s carpark, so we ended our night with few more rounds of Brains and some local brewed beers and cider at City Arms just opposite the carpark. There were live music and the nightlife in Cardiff was very lively, Welsh are quite know for their music and local artists.

Christmas market in Cardiff, a bit Germany-inspired though, haha!

Cardiff Castle at night on Christmas season :)

 

The next day, we walked around the area but it’s still too early for the shops to open even the Cardiff Castle was still closed, but we didn’t intend to go inside anyway so it’s okay. We just checked out our hotel and head off back home.

Outside the walls of Cardiff Castle within the city centre!

Inside Cardiff Castle

 

On our way back, we visited the apartment where my husband used to live. He used to work in Cardiff that’s why he is also very familiar with the city. He was amazed how Cardiff changed in last couple of years, it used to be a little gritty industrial place but now it is now one of the most visited city in UK especially for celebrating hen parties and stag parties for its very active nightlife.

 

And that was our short but fun visit to Wales, I would not mind if we have stayed longer to see more of its natural beauty. But perhaps on our next UK holiday we will visit again. I was just wondering why this is the only time we considered visiting this country where it’s only less than 2hours drive only from Stroud (my husband’s hometown in England).

If it weren’t for my husband’s cancelled appointment, I wouldn’t have seen Wales in the snow! My husband was also very happy with this trip because of the snow during the our trip, but I think even if we stayed back in Stroud he would still loved it, all because of the snow, haha! I think we have been living in Dubai for too long now, lol!

 

Now I can say our Christmas holiday is finally complete! We had Christmas with his family for the first time, visited new place together (new country!), and our first snow together! It may sound shallow or childish but the joy that Christmas lights brought me and the same as what snow brought to my husband was very fulfilling with the void we feel in spending Christmasses in Dubai.

Nostalgic but heart-warming. The older you get, the more you find yourself looking for things you used to see and liked when you were younger, so I guess maybe we really are just getting old now, haha!

The flag of Wales with the Union Jack…

One thought on “Wales, UK: The Christmas We Grew Up In

  1. Pingback: Revisiting England: My First English Christmas! | heart & sole

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