The last time we did an issue about cities, three Kallipolitan staff members — Anders, Antonio, and myself — travelled together to three different cities, Vienna-Austria, Luanda-Angola, and Paramaribo-Suriname. We knew we could not do another issue dedicated to our unbridled love of cities without another trip. This time around, the entire staff travelled, but instead of one city we chose to roam across the Welsh countryside and take in two major cities, Cardiff and Swansea. As with the last trip, we did not do regular tourist stops, we only aimed to experience the intricacies that make up the totality of Wales.
Swansea is a remarkable city. The sun does not always make an appearance from behind the clouds here; however the city shines without the sun. Swansea is a city so beautiful that sunshine is optional. I particularly enjoyed the University, where Welsh proved to be a much more difficult yet fascinating challenge. Swansea’s official language may be Welsh but it ought to be smiling. Under gloomy skies it was tough to find a gloomy face, whether in a restaurant, on the street, or watching surfers on the secluded beaches not far from the city, smiles were aplenty everywhere in Swansea.
But to discuss only Cardiff and Swansea, as amazing as they are, would be an injustice to Wales. Wales has a lot more than just two amazing cities. The countryside is an amalgamation of windswept beaches and fertile hills adorned with ample greenery. Pull by the side of the road and take a walk and you will become an instant part of an audience to the symphony of life taking place all around you, as it has for millennia. Lighthouses on rocky shores and thick forests, the Welsh countryside is right out of a fairytale. And its cities are right out of a contemporary utopian case studies textbook. Sitting by a rock-fence to a sheep farm, listening to the animals, birds, the philosophical arguments amongst my friends and colleagues, while we ask a local for directions, I realize Wales is a paradox. And just like humanity it is a loveable and spellbinding paradox, one that I will take with me wherever I go from now on.