They say it always rains in Wales but when my friends took me with them to this beautiful country on the west of the UK, not a single drop of rain, until our departure day, which was fair enough. We’re leaving anyway.
Wales is one of the top ten countries in my bucket list and I thought it was a country outside the UK. Well, it is indeed another country outside of England but within the UK. My knowledge in geography is getting better, as I travel further.
Whenever I hear of Wales I imagine dancing and somersaulting waves against the cliff as I always see on a travel magazine. To my surprise, it had a whole lot more to offer.
The Welsh-Italian Connection
One of the discoveries I made was that the Welsh and Italian national flags have the same colors — red, white and green.
OK, OK, before you hit the x button on the top right hand corner of your browser, here’s what I really discovered.
During the heyday of tinplate, copper and steel industry in Swansea, a large of number of Italians were recruited to work in these factories. Soon more Italians followed suit to put up cafes, fish and chip shops and restaurants… and tavola calda, perhaps.
Today, the presence of Italian restaurants is still very much popular in this part of Wales.
Just because these people are in front of an Italian cafe and restaurant doesn’t mean they are Italian, but the hand gesture gives them away.
Sitting majestically midway up a hill in Mumbles is the Oystermouth Castle. Although the outside walls are intact, the roof is completely ruined. You can walk on the outside walls and explore the different rooms and all you would see is wall partitions and an open sky.
Mumbles Village along the Swansea Bay
Overlooking the castle meadow are the Mumbles Pier and the Lighthouse which are flocked by locals and tourists alike for many different reasons i.e. water sports, fishing, dining, photographing, recreations and whatnot.
The pier and the Lighthouse are within walking distance from each other. Living in the UK, I expected to find a fish and chip shop nearby but was surprised to find none. Why, of course I found only Italian restaurants instead, one in each landmark.
The Mumbles Lighthouse and how the village got its name
Mumbles came from the word mamales meaning breasts due to the twin hills which form the headland. The lighthouse uses solar power to operate.
Did you know? Puzzling Coins
Perhaps the most interesting discovery I made was the puzzling coins. The first time I noticed the designs on the new coins I was puzzled. Separately, apart from fifty pence, the back of each coin looked like an incomplete picture. I used to be bothered looking at them until I got used to it and was not bothered anymore, let alone paid attention to any of them.
In Swansea Marina Museum, the answer slapped me in the face. Created by Welsh designer Matthew Dent, the designs on the coins were carefully planned “so that they would fit together as a puzzle making up the Shield of the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom. The entire shield appeared in £1 coin.”So if you have got all the coins, check if they are the pieces of the puzzle and see if you could solve it in under a minute.