Sunday I caught the train to Cardiff from London – only due to “engineering works”, the train wasn’t going all the way to Cardiff. I had to get off the train at Bristol Parkway along with a LOT of other people, and catch a coach bus replacement. Only a bus doesn’t exactly replace the passenger load of a train, you know? I think there were about 6 buses needed. And then the driver we had, though very competent at driving and very nice, actually didn’t know where the Cardiff train station was located and people in the bus were trying to give him directions. Oy.
We finally got there and I wandered around trying to find my hotel – I didn’t have a map, which wasn’t very smart! There were lots of city centre maps around though, and I did find it eventually (it was just sort of tucked in behind some other buildings). I stayed at a Premier Inn in a brand new building, so everything was lovely and new and clean. I really enjoyed my stay there.
That afternoon and evening I walked around and went to Jamie’s Italian for dinner (that’d be Jamie Oliver) – I went quite early and only waited about 10 minutes, but by the time I left around 18:00 there was quite a queue at the door! The food was delicious – especially this bruschetta, which I really must try to replicate at home. It was topped with smashed beetroot and ricotta with basil and orange zest.
Random Cardiff photos…
That evening since things closed early, I ended up going to the cinema and watching a pretty crappy movie (“Take Me Home Tonight”). It occupied the evening. Had a late snack in the hotel restaurant because everything else was closed!
The next day I headed to the castle, which is really quite lovely. I had an audio guide, which I’ve actually grown to appreciate – I used to think they were unnecessary, but they do provide lots of interesting information when you need a little something. I climbed up to the viewing platform on the top of the keep, the highest building in the castle. It’s on a mound surrounded by a moat. It was 100 stairs to get to the top, but the view was great.
Took a brief look around the Cardiff story (museum) and had lunch at the cafe in the Old Library. Then I walked to the National Museum only to find that it was closed on Mondays! It was a bit of a theme of the day, unfortunately.
I caught the bus down to Cardiff Bay and wandered around. Any Torchwood fans?
Bought some yummy Welshcakes and went over to Techniquest, a science and technology museum…also closed on Mondays.
I walked the mile back to the city centre, and then decided to go check out a restaurant I’d heard a lot about and guess what? Yup, closed on Mondays. Argh! I ended up eating dinner in a random Italian restaurant in the mall, which wasn’t amazing, but it was good and had vegetables.
When I went back to the hotel I made a decision to change my plans. What’s a trip on my own if I can’t change my mind, after all? I decided to cancel the next night in Swansea and just stay put in Cardiff. I was tired, and I really needed not to pack up, take a train, check into another hotel, and explore another city for 1 day only to have to come back to Cardiff the next morning (in a rush) to catch my flight out. I was really relieved after I went downstairs and got an extra night.
It gave me time to go back to the National Museum the next day at a leisurely pace. It’s a pretty nice museum, but by this time I was suffering from a bit of museum fatigue! Especially with Natural History museums and historical art galleries, they all tend to run together after awhile. The museum tried really hard to tie things into Wales and Welsh history, but it was only mildly successful.
I also did a little bit of shopping, picking up a new wallet to replace my ageing and falling apart one, and went to the oldest record shop in the world on a tip from Mary-Heather!
That evening I went for Indian food, and to the movies again – this time, I saw Water for Elephants. It was actually better than I thought it would be, and I enjoyed it. I like going to the cinema in different places, I’ve been in Edinburgh and Delhi as well. It’s such a familiar experience, something I really appreciate when I’ve been going around doing and seeing things that are unfamiliar.
As I’m writing this, I’m coming to the end of my time in Dublin – so I’m still one destination behind my blogging! I’m leaving for Belfast in the morning, but due to some family circumstances I may be cutting the rest of my trip a bit short. I’m sort of in wait and see mode, which is a bit unsettling.