In the last post I wrote about my trip to Llanelli, a nearby town of Swansea. After staying there for two nights I went over to Swansea.
First things first. You might have already asked yourself: What the hell is “Abertawe”? Well, that’s welsh for “Swansea” meaning something like “mouth of the Tawe”, which is a river that flows through the city and ends in the ocean. Behind Cardiff, about an hour by car away, it is Wales’s second largest city with approximately 170k people living here. Also it’s a county. In the 19th century it’s been a key centre for the copper industry. However its history started way earlier. One very interesting part of the county is the Gower! There will be a post on a trip I made there. Maybe I will pull together some background information on that since there are a lot of myths and astonishing stories. Do you know Captain Morgan, King Arthur, Merlin,… ? Yep, all this stuff was here!
I had about a week before I could move in to my new home. Remember that Australian I stayed with mentioned in the last post? It turned out that his brother managed another hotel (Glevdon Park) in Swansea, directly at the beach. Also their 83 year old father lived there and helped the brothers out every now and than. All of them are very kind and interesting. If you ever stay in Swansea: Go there! Surprisingly it is the cheapest hotel in Swansea, even though it is directly at the sea front. However paying for a hotel for a week would turn out very expensive, no matter how cheap. Luckily, I managed to find a couchsurfer couple willing to host me for 5 nights. Based there I spent all day long walking around in Swansea and enjoying the extraordinary weather. Have you ever heard of the stereotype that there’s always rain in Britain? Think again! There was so much sun for three weeks straight, that I even got a slight sunburn. After that fat block of text, let’s move on to some pictures, shall we?
Since I took a ton of pictures this will be split in parts. In this post I will follow the coastline and highlight a few other things. Next up there will be a hill themed collection and stories about daytrips to the Gower and a small nearby place called Neath. Stay tuned.
Let’s start off from the Quadrant, the main bus station where you’d arrive with the coach and most buses around the city and bay area end. That’s where I arrived.
On my way to the hotel I came along that large wall. It turned out to be the jail…
A bit further down the road the view opens up along the beach. That green building on the left side of the road is there Glevdon Park Hotel. This was just a teaser to get started and show my first steps in Swansea. To put things into order we should backtrack a bit.
This is the Swansea Marina. A beautiful spot certainly awesome if you are into boats.
When walking around there a bit you’ll finally get to the beach again. There a lot of sculptures as far as you can see down the bay. Do you remember Ingress? Yep – great spot for that 😉 On the bottom you have some steps. During the tides a nice spot to be.
Next to the Marina are a few museums. Notably the Swansea Museum as seen in that image. I’m not too fuzzed about that kind of culture. I went in anyway and they had a nice temporary exhibition on Dylan Thomas, a local writer who seems to be idolised a lot around here, as well as an impressive one about the second world war. Besides that they have permanent collections of archaeological stuff and other things. Even an old mummy! There is that funny story about that: During war it was down at the basement, that was used as a bunker. It is said, that people smoking there stubbed out their cigarettes on the coffin.
Even though it isn’t necessarily next to the coast, here is a picture from the Swansea Indoor Market to complete the sweep form East to West over Swansea. It is Wales’s largest indoor market and even had its own BBC series! I’ve seen that back in Berlin and it was fun to see one of the protagonists of that documentary in real life. Pretty authentic though.
And there you have it. The first crappy panorama in this series. On the right, where tower is, is the Marina. Next to it is the Civic Centre with a library, archive and such. Behind that is a hill which will be covered in some other post as well as the hill in the middle, the Townhill/Maryhill.
To not bore you with endless beach photos – there will be some more – let’s make a jump further west. That’s where Sketty Park is directly around the Swansea University. In that panorama shot above, that’s where these almost unnoticeable block buildings are.
This is just a small view over a small part of that park. There are also three botanical gardens inside the park.
One is down at the university with fairly tropical plants and a lot of nice places like in the photo.
Another one is properly cultivated and taken care of by a number of gardeners.
They even have a few glass houses with rare plants from all over the world. For people who are keen about finding out more I would advise to just go there. You can find out about the expeditions where these are taken from and more.
Also present: Proper English lawn between all these squares of colorful flowers. All the benches in the garden are donated by supporters. According to that there are benches all over the place. I decided to rest there and have a doughnut I brought along (60p for 5 custard filled doughnuts – how awesome is that). I was very surprised when I saw a group of people walking over the grass sections to watch the flowers. It seemed to be normal though, but I wouldn’t even dare to even stare too long at the precision cut lawn…
And again, there is some large scale landscaping stuff further down in the garden. To wrap this visit up: Awesome! Steve Jobs might have had better words for that. I can’t fit it into words, just beautiful.
Somewhere near to the Sketty Park, there is the Brynmil Park. A lot smaller, but still kind of nice. But once you get spoiled by the other one you can’t get back 😉
We are now already at the east end of Swansea city. One day I took the walk further down towards Mumbles.
Halfway down the path I turned around. Already from there you get a nice view towards Swansea. I would finish of the rest of the way another day in a run session.
With that you got a nice first overview of what Swansea is about: The beach. I hope you enjoyed reading. I tried to sort the photos of two weeks and put them into proper order. To get a better, and true overview there will be a hill-themed post where I’ll take you on a hike and show some nice areal photos.
Until then, let’s head back to Swansea.