Wales Basic Information
For a pretty tiny country, Wales sure has a lot of the weird and wonderful. There’s the fantasy village of Portmeirion, annual coracle (tiny boat) races, mackerel festivals (yep, the fish), a festival of mud and an Elvis festival. Want to know more about Wales? Read on.
Wales is part of the UK, so Aussies are free to enter for tourism, volunteer work or business purposes and can stay for up to 6 months without a visa. However, if you’re planning on working in Wales, you’ll need to apply for a UK work visa before you go. The first step to getting a work visa is to apply online and then go into your closest UK consulate to have your photo taken and your fingerprints scanned. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline, so for the most recent visa info, contact your local British embassy or consulate.
In Wales, you’ll use the British Pound. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and British Pound changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase Pounds when the rate is at its best. For safe spending overseas, it’s also recommended to bring a credit card or travel money card with you. A Cash Passport allows you to transfer money onto the card in Pounds and other currencies and then access the local currency with a much lower fee than a typical bankcard. Always tell your bank or credit card company your travel dates before you leave so you can easily access your money from overseas.
Modern Wales is gastropub central. The chefs here work very closely with local farmers and other suppliers so you can be sure the meat, fish and vegetables on your plate are as fresh as it gets. Nothing travels too far to reach your plate. When you’re travelling around Wales, look out for the True Taste logo – this guarantees what you’re eating is the finest quality and Wales is famous for its produce. No matter where you go, you’re guaranteed to find quality, but some of the local specialities meat eaters must try are salt marsh lamb, Welsh Black beef (a breed of cattle native to Wales) and Carmarthen ham, a traditional cured Welsh ham. For brekky, try the national and salty dish of cockles and laverbread – a seaweed paste served with Welsh bacon and cockles. It’s available all over Wales, but the spiritual home of this dish is Swansea. Of course, you couldn’t go to Wales without having tea. At your teatime, chow down on some traditional Welsh cakes and perhaps finish with some Golden Cenarth cheese.
When you head out in Wales, you’ll most probably be sharing the incredible gastropubs, bars and clubs with stag and hen parties. Brits from all over seem to flock here for their big nights. In fact, Cardiff has been listed as one of the top 10 nightlife destinations in Britain. With over 350 pubs, clubs and bars (more pubs per square metre than anywhere else in Britain), Cardiff is the clear nightlife capital of Wales too. If you’d like to get a taste of the Cardiff after-hours scene in one venue, head to Creation. It’s a student’s paradise with mega-cheap drinks and good times all round. Another great venue is the UCI. Located in Cardiff Bay, this modern cinema complex has 12 cinemas, a 26-lane bowling alley, microbrewery, restaurants and bars. For something different, check out Minsky’s Show Bar in Cardiff – you can see amazing drag acts or live cabaret. In Swansea, head to the Kingsway Pleasure Zone, an area with 12 nightclubs in the one place.