My second full day in Wales, my friend and her mom took me to Castell Coch, which means Red Castle in Welsh. As we approached the edifice, I snapped a picture of a daffodil, the symbol of Wales.
We explored the castle. My friend and her mom told me that they hadn’t been there in a long time.
We had lunch at the castle café, where I tried Welsh rarebit, which is like a croque monsieur with vegetables, radish, and celery. A croque monsieur is like a grilled cheese sandwich with ham in the middle and cheese on top. A grilled cheese sandwich is melted cheese on toast. I seem to have gotten off track.
At the bookshop, my friend convinced me that we should get matching mood rings.
Our next stop was Cardiff Bay, which was lovely.
We popped in a little museum explaining the history of the area. At a nearby shop called Fabulous Welshcakes, I bought three Welshcakes of different flavors. Welshcakes are sweet flat cakes that may have raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips. They were warm and delicious. I ate them out of the paper bag as we strolled along the breezy bay.
We stopped back at my friends’ house.
As we approached their steps, I peered at two empty glass bottles sitting there. They have milk delivered! Afterward, they set out the bottles to be picked up and replaced. I did not know that some places still do that. In the evening my friend and I drove to The Riverfront, a theatre where she worked when she came back to Wales on breaks from Paris. While she went to work, I took a walk outside and then explored the theatre a bit.
Images and sculptures of dragons can be found everywhere in Wales, most notably on the Welsh flag.
I followed signs to the downstairs “art gallery,” which was a dim basement with weird props for rehearsals and some art on the walls.
The show, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, was put on by kids from The Children’s Academy of Stage Training. It was enjoyable. Some singers were better than others. One girl played Joseph for the first act, and another girl during the second act. My friend and I kept joking afterward that Joseph 1 was much better than Joseph 2.
We picked up huge portions of fish and chips from a local joint and brought them home. The guy working there called me “love,” which tickles me as an American.
People in Wales, for the most part, were so friendly and funny. People tended to make conversation and joke a lot. It was refreshing. I had come from spending months in Paris, where I felt at home. Even far from family and my oldest friends and in my second language, in France I was comfortable. It wasn’t until I visited Wales, speaking English and surrounded by people who laughed easily, that I realized that I was more relaxed in Wales. It’s not that I was tense in my daily French life. But perhaps I had gotten used to what ‘relaxed’ means in Paris, and Wales was the first time in a while that I had the opportunity to compare what it means elsewhere.