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What I got up to in Cardiff
Tuesday 2nd October 2007 9:40 pm

The long version...


Friday

I didn't rush to get up Friday, but enjoyed my lie-in. The buses and terribly well timed so I had a 50 minute wait for my train. I was a bit taken aback at a 1 hour 20 minute journey costing £38. It didn't help that it's too far west to use my railcard.

I managed to find the youth hostel in Cardiff quite well. It was alright to stay in, but I wouldn't particularly recommend it. The rooms were cold - probably because they use the old school system where the heating doesn't go on until October. The bathroom was warm, if badly laid out - the mirror was on the back of the door, and there are no mirrors in the rooms. The showers were a pod-like things with the hooks on the side behind the door when it was open.

The kitchen was far too small - considering they have 70 beds, they only had one kettle! I did discover on the last day though, that if you come down for breakfast after they put away the free toast it's a lot quieter. The beds were uncomfortable too. This was because the sheet on the bed included a hole for the pillow. After the first night I took the pillow out and laid the sheet half over it, which was much better.

It wasn't too bad for a few nights, cheaply, but I'd probably go somewhere else next time.

I wondered round town for ages trying to find the tourist information. It's really badly signposted. I eventually discovered a map and realised I'd gone quite close to it but turned the wrong way. The tourist information turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax anyway, and by the time I'd asked for a map I'd wondered around so much I pretty much knew where everything was anyway.

After that I went on an open top bus tour. I find it a good way to discover what to go and see - much better than the tourist information in this case! It wasn't too cold, wasn't raining, and was really interesting, so well worth the money.

Saturday

I got up early and met sarah_janesmith. We went to see Sarah Jane's house. And nearly walked past it! Then we walked down to Cardiff Bay to frolick in front of the fountain. Or stand on Torchwood's invisible lift and look mysterious (although me, being a crap actor, meant I bit my lip to stop from smiling).

We didn't go to the Doctor Who Exhibition because it looked crap, but we spent plenty of time in the shop. They even now have Doctor Who tablecloths, paper plates, paper cups and napkins! All at ridiculous prices, of course. After that we wandered round a bit, talked a lot, but eventually our feet dropped off. Half an hour's sit down, soon solved that and we went our separate ways.

I went to Cardiff Castle. It was definitely well worth paying extra for the tour. The castle's got an interesting history, as it started off as a Roman fort, which is why the castle is square. Then the Normans got in there and built a keep on a mound. Then the Bute family came along and it was their manor house, basically.

One of the Marquis of Bute had an architect friend at Oxford, who was off his trolley, frankly. He didn't just decorate the rooms, he over-decorated them. The men's room had the theme of time, the children's room had nursery story pictures round it (with Little Red Riding Hood riding the wolf). There was no space he left. The nicest room was the Drawing Room (I think, all these dining/drawing rooms got me mixed up) which was left in the Georgian style - ie more minimalist. Although that was so they had space to hang the family portraits.

Fortunately, after the Second World War, the family moved back to Scotland and left the Castle to the people. After the tour, I went up the 110 steps of the keep to get a view of the City. Which just looks like a city really - apart from the Civic Centre there's not that much pretty in it. The Millennium Stadium, in particular, looks like a monstrosity.

Sunday

Having exhausted Cardiff city, I spent Sunday in Cardiff Bay. This is where the Millennium Centre is aka that bit that looks familiar. The visitors centre there was far easier to find, but just as useless.

I decided to go to the Barrage. The Bay is redeveloped Dockland, and when they did it, they made the water in the Bay freshwater, at a constant height and they pump oxygen into it like a fishtank. The Barrage keeps it that way, and has locks to let boats in and out - the seawater was much lower, when I was there at least.

There aren't many ways to get there, specially at the end of September. So I took a boat - which was inside and quite warm. The Barrage, on the other hand, being windy, was freezing. The first half hour I spent there was waiting for the road to go back down. There was no where to go inside out of the wind either, so I didn't spend too long on the other side of it, as the boats back only went once an hour and I didn't want to miss it.

I wasn't quite sure what to do after that, but the Millennium Centre provided. They have a free stage on the ground floor and just after I got there (thinking I'd quite like a sit down) Pembrokeshire school bands provided a concert. So I stood up for an hour and a half, enjoying myself listening to a string band, Big Band and Jazz Band all of whom were really good.

Monday

The rain started Sunday night and didn't stop until I got home. So I was glad I didn't have much left I wanted to do. Mostly, I just wandered round some shops and tried to find the toilets in Howells, which was Hendriks in Rose, but are in reality, House of Fraser. And have non-existant toilets.

To summarise - I enjoyed myself, was amazed at how little it really rained, and now feel like I've done Cardiff.


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