A heated debate that has been happening for decades between the Welsh and the Brits. This loaded question has a different answer depending on who is asked. If you ask a Welsh native, a strong, patriotic “YES!” is exclaimed, but if you ask an Englishman/woman, the answer is usually, a little giggle, a head shake, and a “no”.
As an American, which is obviously neither a Welsh nor an Englishwoman, my curiosity kicked in, and I was enchanted with understanding why this was such a loaded question.
In my last blog post “Londy Land”, [if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend going back to it, but hey maybe I’m biased], I quickly mentioned that my cousin, Steph, and I took a day trip from London to Cardiff, Wales. Our bus left London at 8AM sharp, and right on course with every other day of the trip, we overslept, underestimated London traffic during rush hour on a Wednesday, and almost missed our bus out of London. We were literally sprinting through the bus station, which neither of us had ever even been to before that moment, so we really didn’t even know which way to run. Thankfully, we made our bus just in time. We made our way to our seats, all out of breath, and almost immediately fell asleep for a good portion of our journey. The bus ride was about 3-4 hours (I was sleeping, so I don’t really remember), but it was long enough where we were well rested from our nap once we arrived in Cardiff.
First stop on our little day trip was the Cardiff Castle. Picture a castle in your mind. That’s exactly what Cardiff Castle looks like. It is something straight out of a fairytale or movie. This castle was built in the 11th Century on the grounds of a Roman fort from the year 55AD (from what I remember hearing, and then re-researched). That is thousands of years. THOUSANDS. So much history happened on these very grounds in that amount of time. Take that in. There’s the main castle entrance, which is a gigantic gate and stonewall that lines the perimeter of the Castle’s land. When you waltz through the castle walls and enter the courtyard, you’re transported through time as you look around and see this beautiful castle on a hill in the center surrounded by a moat. Yup, A MOAT. How cool is that. It was no longer the 21st Century to me; it was the 11th Century. Every step we took just made me wonder what it was like here during that time. We wandered around the Castle and grounds for a while, and made our way through the Cardiff Castle, the living area, and the museum. If you find yourself in Cardiff, please ensure the Castle is at the very top of your list. I cannot even describe how amazing the Castle is and cannot do it any sort of justice.
After the castle we hopped on a big red double decker bus, and toured around the city taking in as much as possible during our short trip. Cardiff is a beautiful city full of history, stunning architecture, and our favorite thing: plenty of pubs. We hopped off the red bus in the city center, and showed ourselves around. My main travel collectible when I go somewhere new is a shot glass, but in my recent years, I have also started collecting tiny flags from each country I visit, so when in Wales, I made sure to pick one of those bad boys up. I was extra excited about getting the Welsh flag since it had a giant dragon on it. We made our way to Castle Arcade and grabbed a nutritious lunch of coffee, sugar, and waffles and bought some souvenirs, before finding a charming pub called The Alchemist.
After a few drinks, we brought up the notorious question of whether or not Wales was a country. We decided it would be a great idea to ask every Welsh person we came in contact with if Wales was a country or not. We also thought it would be a great idea to wave around the tiny Welsh flag I bought earlier that day. We had seen Les Miserables in London the night before, so the songs of revolution were flowing through our veins. We were going to start a revolution of our own that day, as we sang, “Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men”.
During our mini-revolution, we saw a tattoo and piercing shop. Steph mentioned how she always wanted to get her nose re-pierced, and I was excitedly exclaimed “LET’S DO IT”, so that is exactly what we did. We were given some paperwork to fill out and lied the whole way through it, since the first question was about being under the influence, which we absolutely were and said we were not. We walked upstairs, met the lovely woman who would be piercing us that day, and then she was subjected to our revolutionary spirits with flag waving and constant questions about her nation. She put up with all of our antics, and gave us two perfect nose piercings. (Mine has fallen out since, but I might go back to her just to get it redone!)
After we got our piercings, we went back to The Alchemist. The bartender smirked as we walked in, since we already bothered him with our shenanigans earlier in the day. He poured us some more drinks, gave us the fascinating history of all of the risqué artwork that was displayed around the place, and entertained our revolutionary spirits. Shout out to him, because I can only imagine how annoying we really were. After we decided we were done torturing this poor bartender, we made one last stop at a bar a bit closer to where we needed to catch the bus. This bar was appropriately named Revolution Cardiff. We grabbed some ciders, and explored this unique bar while still waving the mini flag around. We boarded the bus back to London, and slept the entire way home, which worked out great since this gave us the chance to sober up and be able to met Steph’s husband and his friend at dinner once we arrived.
I bet your wondering where we landed on the question of Wales’ being a country. Okay you’re probably not… since I basically just told you we tired to start a mini-revolution to say it was a country. In all seriousness, it is a magnificent, unique place with deep history, it’s own funky looking language, and own culture, so yes it should be considered a country, in my opinion. Then I can truthfully say Wales was one of the most enjoyable countries I have ever been to.