Comparing and Contrasting Rochester and Cardiff— By: Bridget Bartos
Cardiff reminded me of my hometown of Rochester, Michigan, almost immediately. Although Cardiff is bigger and more full-of-life, it has the hometown friendly feel and some great and unique desert places and restaurants.
The set up of Cardiff was the first comparison that came to my mind. The Cardiff main strip is mostly places to eat and coffee shops, and of course has the amazing night life and pubs. Rochester also is full of good eats and coffee shops. There is an immediate good vibe hen you first walk into downtown Rochester, as you are greeted with a hustling crowd of locals. All of them are willing to talk to you and ask about how you are. The Rochester people have gotten to know you as they have been here over the years, and Cardiff was giving me the same sort of vibe. The streets here were bustling with activity from locals and visitors alike, all of which are happy to sit down and talk.
The biggest difference in the layout and atmosphere for me was the inability to drive through a large part of downtown Cardiff. It was enjoyable just being able to walk freely from one side of the street to the other, and have some privacy from the road. This adds more room for exploration during the day. The alleyways also add the more connected appeal of the city. Not only are there open paths, but hidden treasures sprinkled throughout the city. The downtown in Cardiff is also much bigger than Rochester. Rochester’s down town is all on one strip in the city, which is super cute and full of shops. There are some side roads, but they are not nearly as busy as Main St. There is also a road running down the middle so you have to cross the street whenever you want to reach the other side versus bolting it across the main area. This limits the amount of street performers and artists, as well as art that is made and spread in the city. There really is not any space for this to thrive near home. The Cardiff street performers added an insane amount of vibe and atmosphere to the city. It was extremely uplifting and appealing to a younger crowd at all times of the day, where as Rochester is only appealing to younger crowds during the day.
This leads to the second biggest difference between Cardiff and Rochester, the nightlife. Cardiff at night was much different from Cardiff during the day. The shopping malls and bubbly atmosphere are replaced with some pretty hard partiers, and an ungodly amount of bachelorette and stag (bachelor) parties. The locals head out after work around ten, and then are out until the sun begins to rise. This is when the streets begin to light-up with neon signs, and street vendors enter the scene to sell all of the intoxicated parties hot dogs. There are also a large amount of people handing out drink deals to lure you into their club. This is an interesting concept, and it is actually really affective. It made it way easier for our group to go out and see the city life for less pounds! At night, the streets are even more packed than during the day. The presence of live music is also much larger in Cardiff. I saw more live music there than I have in my whole life, which is pretty impressive. Not only was the music live and lively, but it was free to listen to and enjoy. I know that Michigan has open mic nights and times when bands can come in and play, but I think that it is way more coming in the UK and Europe. The amount of atmosphere the live artists brought to the Brewhouse was insane. The music was amazing and we got to see all of the action from the front row. Rochester at night is NOT hopping past eleven. All of the shops, bars, and restaurants close down for the night at this time, and the streets slowly but surely lose their foot (and car) traffic within the hour. The bars in Rochester are mostly restaurants without any food or drink specials, so this immediately makes them more expensive and less appealing to go out to. There is also rarely live music in Rochester. There are no real, going out bars there besides you typical sports bar. All of the action in present in another local city though.
An area that Cardiff is a lot like is Royal Oak. The day-to-night shift between shopping and cafe’s to bars and partying is literally identical. In Royal Oak, there are also drink deals and street vendors, but still no pedestrian only areas. There are some live music places, and way more late night food and bars.
Even outside the main strip was crazy. Mermaid’s Quay was hopping at night, filled with people wanting to relax and have a drink by Cardiff Bay. The views were incredible, and so were the deals. Two-for-one cocktails could be found in almost every club, pub, and restaurant in this area. I think that getting people into the bar, even for only one drink is some of the biggest advertising. If the place does not look fun, then groups like ours will not go in and spend their time. If they enter and it is fun, then they are more likely to stay and party and hang.
I was shocked at how much fun Cardiff was, and the amount of media that is thrown at you in one little strip. The pubs and bars do nothing but advertise themselves to you, and make them appealing to people who are cheap and want to go out and have a good time. This includes the drink deal papers, pamphlets with facts and coupons at the bar, the live music, and the constant advertisements in the streets. All together these make a beautiful and lush city.