We arrived amidst a sea of graduation gowns — Cardiff Uni was sending off its 2008 class. After a helpful stop at the visitors bureau for advice and bag storage, it was on to Cardiff Castle for grog and merriment. Well, not really, but this fortification is roughly two thousand years old (give or take a century), so no doubt it was host to some form of revelry at some point, perhaps when the Romans were in residence. They did say the Queen has visited, and she’s quite the dancer, or so the voices in my head tell me.
Anyway, big neat castle.
An interesting tour with no pictures allowed, although we were all taking them regardless.
Lots of pleasant facts which I cannot cross-check with Wikipedia due to my net-starved state. Look it up. The Marquess (of Bute) who built the place up made his fortune mining Cardiff’s coal pits. The family visited for six weeks a year and brought servants and china and furniture to fill the ornate rooms designed by William Burges, who is somewhat revered in those parts. The smoking room contained the signs of the Zodiac along the ceiling, the children’s nursery, fairy tale characters (including the “invisible man,” outlined in the branches of a tree), and the ladies’ drawing room was in an “Arab” style that doesn’t quite work as well in a castle.
The library was filled predominately with Cardiff city council minutes and other such silliness, but maybe that was just for show.
Outdoors was a “Falconry” with some poor falcons tied to posts for our amusement. Jess was not amused.
Done castling, and utterly confused by all the signs in Welsh…
…it was off by double-decker tour bus to learn fascinating facts about this predominately industrial city. Rather than the sorts of interesting things I learned in London (Cromwell burned this, Cromwell burned that, then Wren built all these things), we found out about coal warehouses and fishing wharves that were being converted into shopping complexes and luxury condominiums. As they say here, cheers!
In Roald Dahl plaza, we saw the Millennium Centre in its huge glory, but, it being a government building, didn’t get to do more than gawk. Yeah, it’s that big in real life too.
Also, the statue/fountain thing that is above the secret headquarters of Torchwood. (Don’t worry Grandma, it’s just a TV show.)
Down at Mermaid Quay, we feasted on tasty burgers and chips (fries) at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which delighted me with their marvelous tomato (pronounced toe-mah-toe) shaped ketchup dispenser. Worth a visit just for that.
We discovered on our way out that next door was an “American” cafe. Alas, the opportunity lost!
We wandered a bit after that, working off our Scottish beef by heading over to the Red Dragon, a mall complex, where J rolled her eyes as I embarked on a Doctor Who adventure (I bribed her with a pound coin for the mall’s massage chairs, which she later told me was “rough.”) The exhibits were…not worth the 5 pound admission. But there were Daleks, so, I guess it wasn’t all bad. (Yes Grandma, another TV reference.)
Then back to the waterfront for ice cream sundaes (later on, in the Glasgow entry, Adam’s take on such things), and then more travel on the silly tour bus so that we could collect our luggage and be off to the airport. Our time in Cardiff was short (ask me about my skills at setting alarm clocks!) but fun and interesting. From Cardiff Airport, where I inexplicably triggered the metal detector, it was on to Glasgow!