They say that home is where the heart is. If that’s the case, mine will always be torn between London and Cardiff. Cardiff is the first city I lived in when I moved out, it’s where I got my first job after graduation and where I had my first brush with heartbreak. It’s my second home in every sense of the term but it is worlds apart from London.
It’s been 3 years since I have been back to Cardiff properly. That’s 3 years of London streets, people and attitudes that I have become a part of. Being back in Cardiff is a bit of a shock to the system.
From social etiquette to transport, there are some important things to know for Londoners making a trip to Cardiff.
People are… Friendly?!
Yep. Welsh people are lovely. The town of Aberystwyth was deemed to have the friendliest people in the UK. People smile at each other and say hello – you know, like normal sociable human beings do. (Smiling at anyone in London will likely get you sectioned.) Etiquette is usually to smile and nod/say hello back or else be considered a rude townie. There’s also something to be said for the Welsh when their catcalling consists of marriage proposals rather than lewd requests for nudity. (Disclaimer – no form of catcalling is by any means okay)
Trains are Archaic
Loud, clunky and slow would best describe the Arriva Trains Wales network that runs through Cardiff. Don’t expect trains to be more regular than 10 minutes and if you’re expecting a speedy service, think again. You’ve also got to have your wits about you. Theres no way of knowing what station you’re coming up to next thanks to the lack of a screen or text banner. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve nearly missed my stop when distracted with music or instagram. Stay alert people!
Pret A Manger x2
2. A measly 2! And they’re a decent 15 minute walk between them. In London you’re never more than 5 minutes away from the nearest Pret. One part of the city has 4 Prets on one road… Cardiff redeems itself with a decent amount of other chains (2 Starbucks, 2 Caffè Nero, and 1 Costa) as well as a plethora of indie coffee shops so you won’t be far from a caffeine fix should you need it!
Cheap and Cheerful
There must be a good reason why the welsh are so happy… my verdict? Everything is cheap in Wales. Using the price of a pint as a common global currency measure, Wales is around £1.50 cheaper than London (prices have of course inflated since 2018). You can also guarantee a decent meal for two for around £30 in Cardiff compared to nearly £30 per head in London. So for Londoners out and about in Cardiff, your wallet will be very happy!
Cardiff will always have my heart but there are a few things that I will always have to adjust to every time I come back…