A Dane with a dragon’s heart

Welsh Flag

 

Most Danes don’t know anything about Wales and neither did I first time I stepped out of Cardiff Central Station, an evening back in March 2007. Now, almost nine years later, my heart is part viking, part dragon – and the land of leeks, sheep an broad shouldered men will always be a big part of my life.

Let me tell you why…


DISCOVERING CARDIFF

It was a bit of a coincidence that my “love affair” with Wales began. I have a Welsh friend through my passion of icehockey, and when wanderlust struck me back in early spring 2007, I set out on what should have been a European adventure, starting in Cardiff. Only thing is, I ended up staying all three months in the Welsh capital.Rugby

I settled in to a room in a small house in the Cathays neighbourhood and spent hours, days and months exploring the streets of Cardiff. Only to get more and more surprised about how overlooked and underrated the city was in my home country – or in Scandinavia for that matter. But the feeling of having found something “new” – something of “my own”, made it all that more interesting, and I fell in love with the city.

I started enjoying late night snacks in “Chippy Lane”, followed the Cardiff Devils (hockey team), and I got chills watching my first-ever rugby game at the Millennium Stadium and hearing the national anthem being sung by a passionate crowd 50.000+ Welsh fans.

Leaving Cardiff that summer, I had the feeling that I wasn’t done with the city… or with Wales and while people at home where raising their eyebrows and asking; Why Cardiff? I was answering; Why not? It felt like a hidden gem to me.


A WELSH LOVE STORY

I moved back to Denmark but came visiting Cardiff several times in the following years. It was exciting to keep up with the never-ending development of the city, while I still felt like “coming home” – and when a broken relationship left me wandering Europe in the spring of 2012, I chose to return to Cardiff and stay with good friends.Roath Park

Back there, I started pursuing my dream of becoming a freelance travel writer and my first article being published in a Danish newspaper was about… Cardiff.
I also slowly started building the foundation of my guide-to-be, www.oplevcardiff.dk – a Danish online guide to Cardiff, which I have put hundreds of hours into, in an attempt to lure more Danes to Wales.

My connection to the capital and Wales grew even stronger, when I met my girlfriend shortly after returning – and she being from Spain, we decided to meet half way and move in together to Cardiff. We ended up being wanna-be Cardiffians for half a year, before moving on to Denmark.


REPRESENTING WALES

During my time in Wales, I even got the honour of representing the country in petanque. Because of my past years of playing this French game back inWPA team Denmark, I joined the local club and due to my Welsh license from 2007, I was eligible to play for Wales in International competitions.

Therefore I had the pleasure of playing with the dragon on my chest in both Wales, England and Scotland. A unique experience and no matter what game, there is something special about representing a country – even if it’s not your own. I was as proud as any to play in my Welsh shirt.


VILLAGE LIFE IN PEMBROKESHIRE

After leaving Wales again in 2013, life took my girlfriend and I to Denmark and on to Spain, where we spend one year in the heart and heat of Madrid. Therefore it was a monumental contrast when we chose to leave the citylife behind this summer, to spend a few months in a Pembrokeshiresmall village in West Wales. Through the website Workaway.info we found a host in beautiful Pembrokeshire and got to know a different side of life in Wales.

We were absolutely blown away by the magnificent coastline and quickly got addicted to walking the Wales Coast Path – spotting wild seals and visiting charming towns and cities like Tenby and St. Davids.


PEOPLE NEED TO SEE THIS

During almost a decade, I have gotten to know the Welsh people as proud, humble and very friendly. A good example are the busdrivers who are normally greeted with a “thanks” or a “cheers drive” – and I can tell you that would be a rare sight in Denmark. Hell, even the country’s world class football (soccer) star Gareth Bale seems humble, despite his super star status Internationally.Pembrokeshire coast

I love the Welsh pride and the ‘underdog mentality’, which is found in smaller countries like my own. I’m in awe of the natural wonders of the country, like the coast of Pembrokeshire and the rolling hills of the Brecon Beacons – and I haven’t even made it north to the land of Snowdonia yet!

Through the years I have had several articles about Wales published, and I’m constantly working on improving my Danish Cardiff Guide. One of my dream jobs would definitely be to promote Cardiff and Wales in Denmark or Scandinavia. To inspire people to experience this place or at least to make them understand, that NO, Cardiff is not in England – and if you tell a Welshman otherwise, you’d probably end up with less teeth than the nation’s rugged rugby heroes.


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By Brian Schæfer Dreyer
www.travelooneyblog.com
travelooney@gmail.com

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