Tompaul has talked about his boyhood trip to Cardiff for as long as I can remember. We had always wanted to go there. To be honest it wasn’t originally on the itinerary. We ended up in London because we had to pass through (not that we ever look a gift trip to London in the mouth) but Cardiff was an accident. We waited to reserve our tickets (unbeknownst to us you can reserve your tickets indefinitely prior to paying for them). Because of this all of the London to Cape Town flights were booked. The first one out that we could get was January 6. So what to do with our extra time? We decided a quick train trip was in order.
We boarded the trains like the avid adventurers we are and waited for Cardiff. Upon arriving we fell in love with the Welsh. Every soul was helpful and pleasant, as if they invited us themselves. We stayed at the Novotel (about a 10 minute walk from the Central Cardiff station). Our room was modern and tidy (although the internet was a bit slow). The pool had a hot tub, steam room and dry sauna (essentials for braving the chill).
Upon arriving we took a quick jaunt to the bay to see the Doctor Who exhibit, Millennium building and the sea. Then we traipsed back to the hotel and took a dip in the hot tub.
This is the Millennium Center.
On day 2 of our Cardiff adventure we had high hopes of St. Fagans (a huge outdoor museum full of vintage Welsh buildings and various demontrations, all free) and Cardiff Castle. The weather, however, wanted to give Tompaul and I a special welcome. It rained almost all day. We ditched St. Fagans and walked up to Cardiff Castle.
Brains Beers is apparently THE beer in Cardiff.
Tompaul fondly recalls peacocks bopping about the castle grounds, but according to one of the staff, they were sent packing two years ago because they kept wandering into city traffic. Too bad—they would have stood out on such a gray day.
The droll woman checking our “Essential” tickets assured us the introductory video “will change your life.” The wordless program was a little random, but the curtain rising at the end was pretty impressive—until it turned out to just reveal the rain-splattered window.
Before heading out we ducked down into the Welsh soldier museum, and learned about the goat that helped the Brits win the Battle of Bunker Hill (a fact somehow left out of our U.S. history classes).
By the time we’d read all the outdoor plaques on the castle grounds we were soaked to the skin.
The ceiling of the sitting room.
The master dining room.
By the time we’d explored the castle interior and climbed a hundred or so steps to the top o’ the keep, the sun had gotten bored of wherever it had wandered and decided to drop in again. How to warm up? A Mexican restaurant, of course! Chiquitos wasn’t quite like any Mexican meal we’d ever had, but it was tasty and warm. We stocked up on Cornwall pasties for supper later and retired to the hotel hot tub.