So as you all know – or not – I moved to Wales just over a year ago. It has been one of the best decisions of my life, a “right time, right place” kind of scenario. When I arrived in Wales back in April 2018, not knowing anyone or anything in Wales I wasn’t sure if this adventure was going to pan out, but boy! it has.
I have met wonderful people, I found my Welsh half, and have the chance to be completely connected to mother nature and the elements while being surrounded by the fantastic Valley I live in. My BF and I have traveled up and down the Welsh Valleys and West Coast discovering (for me, and sometimes him my Cardiff lad) amazing little gems along the way. From the intriguing Dan yr Ogof Caves located at the National Showcaves Centre for Wales, 15 miles southwest of Brecon, in the Brecon Beacons National Park, to Margam Country Park near Port Talbot and everything in between, I am never disappointed when we head out for our little travels.
Snowdonia you are next! I can’t wait to visit North Wales and the upper west coast.
Since I have fallen completely in love with Wales and all things Welsh, we (BF and I) have created “Welshiefied” the art of Welsh living. We are not a brand but a lifestyle, lol.
We decided to create this little place for us to share all our explorations, travels, food endeavors and discoveries around the UK, with the occasional feature of places in England, Scotland and maybe even Ireland (eventually) A place to showcase this fantastic country and all it has to offer, and a place for us to be goofy and enjoy life!
Explore Wales with us, share tips with us, let us know where to go next! Find your Epic in the land of the dragons.
Where does the time go? is there a time-consuming black hole conspiracy happening at the moment? lol May 2018, guys, May! can you believe it? This year is flying by, but they do say time flies when you are having fun which is my 2018 motto “Have fun with yourself” life is way too short for complications, negative thoughts and boring political debates (sorry, if this is your thing and its fun for you, then YAY YOU! but definitely not my cup of tea)
Anyway, May means that my 36 (gulp) birthday has come and gone already, I love celebrating birthdays. I see birthdays as milestones, as an opportunity to celebrate life and everything you embody. Be you, unapologetically and embrace the beauty of age. With age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes enjoyment.
My 36 years on earth have been filled with ups and downs, with achievements and failures, with beautiful and ugly people (on the inside – not referring to looks) and with experiencing different cultures. I have been lucky enough to live in different continents and different countries which has definitely expanded my views and has given me a taste for an eclectic combination of foods, lol. This year, 2018, my first birthday since I came back to the UK and my first birthday with my thoughtful Welsh half who made my birthday magical and unforgettable.
He surprised me with a trip to Stonehenge, Wiltshire ❤ and Salisbury!
Stonehenge is one of those places I always wanted to visit, on my top 5 bucket list destinations since I was very young.
Walk in the footsteps of your Neolithic ancestors at Stonehenge – one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.
I absolutely loved it! Although I always thought the stone circle would be bigger than what it actually is, the historic meaning of the place makes the trip worth it. As you enter Stonehenge you have access to a small Neolithic museum area with an exhibition of instruments, bones, and artifacts found in the surrounding areas. You can also roam around some Neolithic houses that represent a small village of the time (4,500 years ago).
Fun Fact: Stonehenge stones come from West Wales! According to the established wisdom for some 90 years, many of the smaller rocks making up Stonehenge come from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Stonehenge Stone Circle is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons.
Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC.
Stonehenge is one of the most famous landmarks in the UK, regarded as a British cultural icon. Definitely, a must see. Just know that access to the stone circles is somewhat restricted and you are not able to get up and close to touch the stones. This is understandable due to the nature of the place. Also, keep in mind there is a charge for entry and it can be a little expensive for large families to visit considering there isn’t much more there to see apart from the stone circle itself, the Neolithic houses and the small museum area. There is also a cafe and a gift shop with lots of nick-nacks to commemorate your visit.
So as you might all know I am now living and loving Wales and ALL things Welsh 😉 However last week I had the opportunity to visit Bristol across the border into my “homeland” (I have a few homes, I am a citizen of the world)
I went to Bristol for a fantastic magic-filled day of walks along the Avon river, small little cobblestone roads, old pubs, hip grubs and stunning architecture. It was beautiful! even if my “tour guide” got lost a few times, lol, I got to experience a day in a new-to-me city. So shoutout out to the taffy who made this happen. Thank you!
Speaking of The River Avon, and Welsh things. Some say the river also known as the Bristol Avon, has it the name “Avon” as a cognate of the Welsh word afon, “river”.
We arrived at Bristol by Temple Meads, where we found a little cosy spot for breakfast at Caffe Gusto. Proper British outing can’t be complete without a bacon sandwich and a cuppa. Ok, let me explain. Yes, I had bacon. No, I do not regret it. I don’t usually do bacon; I don’t because yeah mostly plant based diet. However England it’s not England without a bacon sandwich for breakfast. Also, it had been like seven years since I had a proper bacon sarnie.
Not far from Temple Meads it’s the beautiful St.Peter’s Church at Castle Park (pictures above and below). The church was bombed during World War II and is now preserved as a memorial surrounded by beautiful gardens. Lovely place for a romantic stroll, or to sit quietly with a book during a nice sunny day.
Further along, a walk through the historic roads can take you to little corners of delight, from farmer’s markets to street food vendors, old pubs, arcades and churches.
A bit of history tells us that Iron Age hill forts and Roman villas were built near the confluence of the rivers Frome and Avon, and around the beginning of the 11th century, the settlement was known as Brycgstow (Old English “the place at the bridge”). Bristol received a royal charter in 1155 and was historically divided between Gloucestershire and Somerset until 1373 when it became a county of itself.
The Llandoger Trow (pictured below) is a historic public house in Bristol, south-west England. Dating from 1664, it is on King Street, between Welsh Back and Queen Charlotte Street, near the old city centre docks. Named by a sailor who owned the pub after Llandogo which built throws, the building was damaged in World War II but remained in sufficiently good condition to be designated grade II* listed building status in 1959. The pub is said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write of the Admiral Benbow Inn in Treasure Island, and Daniel Defoe supposedly met Alexander Selkirk there, his inspiration for Robinson Crusoe. The pub is also supposedly haunted, with up to 15 ghosts, the best known being a small child whose footsteps can be heard on the top floor.
So thats my short review of Bristol. I know there are a million things to see and do there. But if you ever feel like visiting an English historic old city, I do recommend you walk away from London and venture into Bristol, even if for a day or two.
Last weekend was my first foodie event since I arrived back in the UK. And oh boy, do the Welsh know their foodies! I attended Picnic Penarth, in Penarth, Wales.
Penarth is a town in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, 5.2 miles south-west from the city centre of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff and lying on the north shore of the Severn Estuary at the southern end of Cardiff Bay. I am in love with the area and hopefully, if all goes as planned I can move there into a lovely house/flat. But more about that later.
Picnic Penarth is a free, kid and dog-friendly congregation of fantastic local food trucks and restaurants offering delicious food “al fresco” thankfully the Welsh weather was on our side and it allowed everyone to enjoy in the sun (and some clouds now and then, you know, is the UK after all)
I was pleased to see so many dog parents with their furry babies, SO CUTE! the atmosphere was fun, relaxed and vibrant. The aromas emanating from each single corner of the place were amazing! Hard to decide which to try first. The queues were long, I am not gonna lie, I had to wait 20+ minutes for crispy avocado tacos but I promise you it was worth it.
So about those tacos. The Beaded Taco Truck had some Scrumpti-licious food! I went vegetarian with the super fresh, and tangy avocado tacos. Cooked to perfection with the delicate crispy tempura style avocados. No spice tho, but they had sauces you could add if you needed to add some fire to your meal. Two tacos for 6 pounds, perfect street food. LOVE THEM.
Then there is Pizza Pronto Team. These guys are amazing not only at making pizzas but at giving back to the community. (more on that in another blog post soon) Their fun, quirky pizza menu had them at the center of everyone’s (belly’s) attention. That and their giant vintage pizza sign and baby blue car.
Another winner for me (sweet tooth) was Dawn’s Pantry with their stricking looking cakes. I had a slice of heaven with their Strawberry Milkshake cake. The right amount of sweet, moist and tasty. The little sour rainbow gummy was a trip to childhood memories and a zesty bang to an amazing cake.
…Let’s not forget the Greek food truck, that although I did not try their food I saw many many satisfied fellow picnic goers finger licking and devouring their meaty treats.
And these fellows… with a burst of flavour and exotic spice…
Overall Picnic Penarth was an amazing foodie experience, filled with tasty treats, yummy food and a fantastic atmosphere. I am sure next year will be a blast too!
Do you know of any other foodie events around Cardiff? Let me know! (If vegetarian options available even better)
It’s been two weeks since I landed in Welsh lands and oh boy I am in love. There is so much to this city I don’t even know where to start. Let’s cover a bit of the basics. First and foremost, Helo Cymru.
Cardiff, or Caerdydd in Welsh, is the Capital of Wales. Wales is part of the U.K but it is not England – it’s Wales. The story of Wales begins with the Celts. The Celts began migrating from their central European homeland around 1000 BC. The recorded history of Wales begins with the arrival of the Romans on Welsh borders. At that time people spoke a Celtic language – Brythonic, the language that would eventually evolve into Welsh.
The Normans invade England. Wales proves resistant to the Normans’ power and the Welsh rise in revolt. Ah! feisty! By 1100 the Normans had been driven out of Gwynedd, Ceredigion and most of Powys. Fast forward to 1955,Cardiff is officially declared capital of Wales. Cardiff is Europe’s youngest capital city. Oh and you can see it and feel it. Cardiff is vibrant and full of energy but also holds so much historic wisdom. Cardiff its sort of like a young wild wise lady dressed with the scales of a dragon and the spirit of fire.
Fun fact: Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales, or Cymru in Welsh, at least 230,000 years ago, while Homo sapiens arrived by about 31,000 BC. … A number of kingdoms formed in present-day Wales in the post-Roman period.
I love how the city balances green space and city life. It is surrounded by many green well maintain parks and green areas. The city, now in the spring, is buzzing with the bright colors of flowers. Also, so far everyone has been so friendly and welcoming. I have met a few people thanks to online groups like meetup.com and everyone is lovely and polite. I love it! Diolch everyone! (that means, thank you)
Not far from the city center many suburbs hold hidden treasures, little time capsules. One of my favorite places so far is Radyr. The Parish of Radyr came into existence soon after the Norman Conquest of Wales around the beginning of the 12th century. The area had had a long history before the Conquest. Archaeological findings suggest that the Lesser Garth Cave (behind the Ty Nant Inn) was inhabited from the Stone Age onwards. The place is magical surrounded by forest and historic facts. It’s uphills aligned with colorful houses and it’s air fresh and crisp.
Penarth, I feel deeply in love with. Putting it out there for the universe to hear me. I want to settle in Penarth. Near the sea yet close to Cardiff, this place is my dream. I will dedicate a whole post to Penarth in the next few weeks as I dig into its history and roots. But in the meanwhile, I’ll leave one picture here.
Another fun fact about Cardiff? The 2017 Football Champions League Final will be celebrated here, this June! Exciting!
Wanna know more about Wales, follow me on Instagram and Snapchat @onixjihane
Some of us have that nomad gene dormant in our subconscious perhaps? I was born in one country, moved to another, then another, then lived my childhood in one place, but always traveling, tasting and exploring (thanks, mum & dad).
Then I became a young adult, and I went back to my place of birth. Became an adult and found myself falling headfirst against the ground of adulthood reality. I moved again. I moved again to heal, to find myself, and to grow internally and as a person. I’ve accomplished my mission and I am now ready to go.
I keep moving. My mind and my body feel the need to explore, learn, move. We are not static beings. Our ancestors kept moving in the search for more food, land, and opportunities. It is part of human nature. However, if you chose not to move and to stay in one place that is fine too – if it works for you, it works for you. I personally don’t need to have roots in one place in order to feel whole. I am whole in the wind, in the immense universe of life, in the eternal shining of the stars.
Life is fluid. Is a constant movement of actions, reactions, people, and worlds.
After spending 9 years in Newcastle, I moved to Houston, Texas. That was a 180-degree change. From the old world into the new. From the small streets to the vast distances of Texas. From the rainy cold afternoons to the hot and humid sunny gatherings.
Texas opened its gigantic doors to me and I embraced it’s cultural diversity, its simplistic pomposity (Hipster style) and its warm long afternoons – although I still think sweet tea is an abomination, sorry not sorry… joking, it’s ok if you hate tea. lol.
My heart is black and white stripes (Newcastle FC) with Catrinas (Mexican, Dia de Los Muertos) and majestic bullhorns (Texas). My heart also waves the Venezuelan flag (Amarillo, Azul y Rojo) and has so much more space waiting to be colored and filled with new experiences, cultures, and faces.
I am forever grateful to all the things learned during my time in the USA. The truth is, I am a culture junkie. I find eternal happiness in the discovery of new cultures, in the understanding of new traditions, in the tolerance of new ideologies. I am a Third Culture child and my heart aches for knowledge and adventure.
So today, I say Salud! Cheers to new and old places. Cheers to growth and discovery. Cheers to adventure! Cheers to YOU, to ME and to the WORLD.
So it’s been a while since I posted, big changes happening! It was Sprint Break in Texas this past week (yay! Spring! although it feels like Summer here already) We had plans to visit Boston, and I was really looking forward to go to Salem and learn all about the Freedom Trail but Mother Nature had other plans. Huge winter storm canceled out trip and we prepared an impromptu visit to Las Vegas.
I knew Las Vegas wasn’t for me, so I convinced my crew to take a little road trip to Arizona and visit the Grand Canyon West Rim and the Hualapai Native American Reserve. WOW! just wow! I am so glad we did!
The Hualapai Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in northwestern Arizona. “Hualapai” (pronounced Wal-lah-pie) means “People of the Tall Pines.” They are the native people of the Southwest. Traditionally hunter-gatherers, they inhabited an area of more than 5 million acres.
Their homeland stretched from the Grand Canyon southward to the Santa Maria River and from the Black Mountains eastward to the pine forests of the San Francisco peaks. Today, the Hualapai American Indian Reservation, created in 1883, is nearly 1,000,000 acres that includes 108 miles of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon.
The total population of the Hualapai Reservation is about 1,621 of whom 1,353 are tribal members (2000 U.S. Census). Total tribal membership, including members not residing on the reservation, is approximately 2,300. Most people who reside on the reservation live in the capitol town of Peach Springs, which owns its name to the peach trees that historically grew at nearby springs.
The Great Spirit created Man and Woman in his own image. In doing so, both were created as equals. Both depending on each other in order to survive. Great respect was shown for each other, in doing so, happiness and contentment was achieved them as it should be now – Hulapai.
I love everything Native American, I feel their energy is so pure and their roots so in touch with nature.
Grand Canyon West Rim
The west rim is approximately a 2 and a half hour drive from the Vegas Strip. On the way there you can stop to see the Hoover Dam which is a majestic work of engineering. You can also enjoy the Arizona Desert views. Once you get to the Grand Canyon directions are easy to follow and for your ticket, you get to see the Skywalk at Eagle Point (skywalk is located here), Guano Point, and an old cowboy style village. You can eat there too, we had some yummy BBQ chicken, ribs corn bread, beans and rice. There is hardly any phone signal but there is wifi at each station.
The tour guide explained this time of the year is one of the best to go due to the weather (not cold, not too hot).
Please note, the Grand Canyon West is not part ofGrand Canyon National Park which is comprised of the South and North Rims. Grand Canyon West is owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. We didn’t know that until we got there, I personally though it was all the same park.
The Skywalk is one of the highlights of this tour. It is without a doubt one of the world’s engineering marvels. Walk out on a glass bottom bridge extending 70 feet out from the canyon’s edge into a vast expanse of nothingness. Standing on see-through glass looking 4,000 down to the canyon floor and a small ribbon of the Colorado River will give you a sense of flying. No cameras or phones are allowed at this point but they provide lockers for you free of charge. The view is amazing and it is worth to get the photo package ($65 for a set of 8-12 digital copies)
However, if you have a fear of height, Skywalk is not for you.
This turned out to be one of the best Spring breaks ever! Nothing like a bit of nature in the mid of chaos to bring you back to peace. Grounded, whole, complete and in tune with myself.
So if you are ever in Nevada or Arizona, I strongly recommend you visit this marvelous place.
Hello! So I was feeling a little down, a little meh, a little bored and I decided to take an impromptu road trip with my little man. Nothing like exploring new places to revitalize the mind and spirit!
Austin! I thought. Perfect, not too far but far enough to be new. In our 5 years in Texas, we had never visited Austin so off we went! First place in our itinerary was the Barton Spring pools. I have heard so much about them we couldn’t miss it. Also, you know how nature is our church and home so we were all over the idea of going to a natural spring pool.
Barton Spring Pools
Nature is all around.
The facilities are clean, including the bathrooms.
There is plenty of parking space.
Kid friendly but also cool for adults only.
Cheap. $1 per child and $3 per adult (resident tariff)
The water is COLD. So this is not particularly bad, just be aware it will be cold.
No food or drinks allowed. This can be tricky when you are with kids. Kids need treats and drinks specially when they are being active outdoors. For my 10-year-old son, this meant downgrading the experience from 4 stars to 2 stars after a member of staff told us off.
In order to pay your $5 for parking, you have to find one of the pay and display machines. We were there in line for a good 15mins because it was so busy in there.
After we were informed about the no-food policy we decided to go because we were hungry. We headed along the road and found a bunch of food trucks! anything you want is available there. Foodie heaven! We ended up at Cheap Date Food Truck at South Austin Social, 409 Jessie St, Austin, TX 78704.
The food was absolutely on point! and the staff was so friendly! We are their Chicken and Rice dish which came packed with delicious vegetables in a curry sauce. We also tried their samosas and plantains! Oh! I love plantains and this was perfect! Shout out to them for the extra bottle of water they gave us! It was hot out there!
My son also HAD to try an ice cone next door at Sunny Daze. Again, the staff was so friendly with us, we even discussed a few places to visit while in town. And, I made my child very happy with a $3 Blueberry Ice Cone. (the only problem is that he sported blue lips, tongue, and teeth for the rest of the pictures lol)
We then visited the Texas State Capitol, because well yes! we couldn’t miss that historical spot. It was SO hot though that we only walked around, snapped some pictures and headed back to the safe haven of the car. YES! thank all the stars for AC. How did people survive in Texas without AC I do not know. lol
After this, next destination was the iconic Graffiti Park. My son and I were so excited! Parking was horrible, mind. The park is on top of a hill and parking space is limited. Thankfully we were riding my brothers Ford Fiesta which is compact enough to fit almost anywhere.
The Graffiti Park is a celebration of art and freedom of the mind. Anyone can go there and leave their art on the wall. Yes! really, anyone. It was buzzing with people, and we had the chance to see a few artists working on their designs.
And last, to end our adventure we headed in search of an antique store. By pure luck I found a string of little shops with a lot of character. I was at 1120 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703.
We discovered a whole world of lost treasures at Fortney Home. Five floors of exquisitly curated antiques and nick nacks.
Aaaand, we found the loveliest little spot next door at Sweetish Hill Bakery. An amazing selection of cookies and cakes to die for! We went for the Texas cookie because yeah! Discovering & loving Texas went perfectly with our road trip theme, and also because Texas has been our home for nearly 6 years now.
Loved our little road trip! We Hope you loved our review. Have you been to Austin? If so, what is your favorite thing about the city?
Tune in later on this week for our trip to Houston’s Chinatown
I was invited yesterday to the grand re-opening of the Marriott Hotel at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. It was a fantastic event, fitting for a fantastically renovated hotel. Its contemporary look conveys everything Houston is about. Hip and sophisticated, diverse and vibrant. The perfect spot for the busy, fast-forward millennial traveler that comes through HTown.
Newly appointed Houston Mayor The Honorable Sylvester Turner was present at the opening ceremony. Accompanied by Mario C.Diaz Houston Aviation Director of Houston Airport Systems, and Rob Steigerwald Chief Operating Officer of America’s West Marriott Intercontinental. The three of them completed the opening by cutting the ribbon and marking the new beginning of the Marriott IAH.
Newly enhanced lobby area welcomes guests on an open space with artistic accents on the walls. Nearby the bar/restaurant area offers a range of bites and drinks with an intimate atmosphere.
FLIGHTs Grill Executive Chef Patrick Gaugham delighted guests with a versatile selection of beautifully crafted dishes, all of which are available at their restaurant. I strongly recommend you pop by and try them all. Being the food fanatic that I am this was my favorite part!
Fresh juices (including green juice, my favorite) and smoothies were also served upon arrival, along with parfaits, fresh fruit kebabs, and freshly baked pastries, all of which I believe are part of their breakfast menu.
Savory lunch-type menu after the ceremony included southern classics such as Fried Chicken & Waffles, Brisket & Mac, Salads, and Tacos. Yeah! this is Texas Y’all! Dishes were presented in beautifully balanced mini sized portions, perfect for the occasion.
The New Marriott:
Total renovation of all 573 guest rooms features new decor, new furniture, and new linens as well as technology upgrades (high-speed internet and 47inch LCD TVs) New and enhanced bathrooms with large mirrors and new fixtures.
New Entrance & Lobby front desk area.
South tower meeting space and ballroom.
New business center and pool area.
New MClub Lounge.
New Restaurant – FLIGHTs Bar & Lounge
Designed with an on-the-go traveler in mind, the completely renovated guest rooms display a polished and inviting look introducing an updated soft contemporary design, decorative lighting, luxury linens and styled artwork. The custom-designed headboards incorporate the latest technological conveniences with task lighting, electric outlets, and USB outlets (yes! Ipads, Iphones and laptops rejoice!) High-speed wireless Internet access and 47-inch LCD TVs are standard room amenities.
Bathrooms have been designed to showcase a spa-like feel while providing increased dressing area space. New stand-up tile showers with sleek, transparent glass doors have replaced the tub/shower combos.
“The hotel has been updated with our guest’s comfort in mind so that they may have an uplifting experience and the opportunity to recharge while they are on the road,” said Suzy Hart, general manager of the Houston Airport Marriott.
Without a doubt, the newly renovated Marriott offers comfort and style for both travelers and non-travelers alike. Make sure you stop by next time you are in town, even if only to enjoy a drink and a bite.
Jihane – OnixJ
About Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental
Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental at 18700 John F. Kennedy Blvd. in Houston, TX is near the Houston Zoo, Deerbrook Mall and Houston Museum of Natural Science. The hotel features 7 floors with 573 rooms, 6 suites, 1 concierge level, 34 meeting rooms with 30,000 square feet of total event space, a fitness center, outdoor pool and whirlpool. For information, visit http://www.marriott.com/IAHAP or call 1-281-443-2310.
About the Houston Airport System
Houston Airports served more than 53 million passengers in 2014. Houston’s three airports — George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) — contribute more than $27.5 billion to the regional economy. IAH and HOU collectively provide nonstop flights to nearly 200 destinations worldwide. For more information, visit fly2houston.com. Get social with Houston Airports by following us on Twitter @IAH and @HobbyAirport.