6 July 2008
More than once since leaving Australia last October, I've been elated at the experience of great architecture. During my first visit to Brussels, I unexpectedly stumbled into the Grote Market (or Grand Place), one of Europe's most classically beautiful squares.
Yesterday, it was Cardiff's Millenium Centre, the performing arts complex on Cardiff Bay. From a distance, the form of the building caught my eye, the sunlight glinting off the copper-faced armadillo. But up close, the architect's triumph is in the textural richness, coarse stone and timber against the copper of the main element. He's also introduced text into the main facade. In Welsh:"Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen, or "Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration" and in English: "In These Stones Horizons Sing." The problem with such an early highlight, however, is that the rest of the weekend can't hope to stack up in comparison.
After further wanderings around the bay, including a look at the Senedd building, I explored Cardiff's Victorian arcades. These beautiful, glass-roofed treasures house a motley crew of disparate establishments, including more than one joke shop and a whole foods shop with, surprisingly, a range of pre-packaged South African products. Yum!
In the evening, the cinema beckonned. At Cineworld, I bought a ticket to the only film about to start, The Edge of Love. By pure chance, I saw a film I'd been waiting to see but hadn't recognised, featuring one of my favourite actresses, Keira Knightley. I also found myself watching a Welsh themed film, about poet Dylan Thomas, amongst a Welsh audience.
This morning, I walked into town via the station, then made for the Taff Embankment for the riverside food market. I sampled a few tidbits including a wild boar scotch egg (so-so) and a Welsh Cake. Comprising fruit scone mix cooked on a hot plate to a pattie-like shape, roughly 15MM thick, the first, straight from the hotplate, was divine. But buying more, though still warm, they didn't have that same "straight from the plate" freshness and didn't stack up.
The obligatory visit to Cardiff Castle followed with it's spectacular ceilings and interior details. Like Brighton's Royal Pavilion however, there are no pictures because of a photography ban.
Finally this arvo, I trekked back to the bay to see the Dr Who exhibition, which took all of five minutes. At £5/ticket, that's roughly £60 (AUD120) per hour of entertainment!