As you may have read in my recent Brussels and Country Weekend posts I enjoy taking a couple of days off to go exploring. Recently I took this to another level when I only had one day off but decided to go to another country (though many people have debated the legitimacy of this statement.) At ten in the morning I boarded a train with a friend bound for Cardiff in Wales, one of the countries that makes up the United Kingdom. Just over two hours later we’d arrived.
If I had done little research about Brussels, I’d done even less research for Cardiff. A brief browse told me there was a bay, some colleagues had given a tip for somewhere to eat.
Obviously this became the first choice for a visit. I don’t think I’d ever been to a real castle (we’re kind of lacking them in Australia, America too) especially as I couldn’t remember my German travels from when I was two years old.
Cardiff Castle has spanned the ages, originally built by Romans, then a Norman Keep (left) was added, walls were built, buildings were built and destroyed, a Gothic wing was added, it became bomb shelters during the war, and finally a tourist attraction.
There’s plenty to see around the grounds, encompassing all the different periods of time, and you get an audio guide included in the ticket price. You can walk the battlements and climb the tower of the Norman Keep for a great view of Cardiff. I even sat on a medieval toilet! (I just can’t escape an odd bathroom opportunity!)
Some of the most stunning aspects of the castle though were not found in the Norman Keep or within the battlements but in the form of superbly decorated apartments within the Gothic Castle. Not all rooms are open to the public, but each one that was seemed more stunning than the last. The Arab Room is a definite highlight. The piece below comes from the library, where I managed to find a platypus!
After the castle it was time for some food, and through the recommendation of that aforementioned colleague we hit up Madame Fromage (the finest cheese store in Wales) for some charcuterie and (of course) cheese! The store and restaurant can be found down one of the shopping arcades and comprises of two shops in the space. Our colleague was right to recommend it, I will too.
From there it was time for some walking, exploring Wales. Around the castle is relatively modern, there’s lots of big fancy new buildings including a lot of shops. In fact some areas felt like parts of Los Angeles or maybe even a hint of Seattle, which is something I did not expect to feel.
A longer walk took us down to Cardiff Bay where the giant Millenium Centre dominates the landscape (pictured above) you’ll also find an area dedicated to Roald Dahl who was born in Cardiff and a number of other activities such as the Dr Who experience.
After a long day of walking we headed back up towards the station, grabbed a pint at a pub, and sat for a drink. There seemed to be a lot of places to eat, drink and socialise in Cardiff, however we’d found it very quiet. Perhaps it would get busier after we’d left. Perhaps there was a zombie plague and we were the only ones still alive. That was an odd thing about Cardiff.
But I’d totally managed to visit another country in just one day, and that was pretty cool. Less cool is me trying to be a knight…