Cardiff Travel Blog

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Today, I was meant to go to Bath to celebrate my birthday, belatedly, but that didn't happen - two people were ill, two people were househunting, one person had to revise, and one was at a hen party.  And whilst I will do most things on my own, I didn't fancy going to Bath Spa alone.  So I needed to do something else with my day, because otherwise I would have had to sit at home and sulk.  So I sat in Emma's house in Bristol and had a good think. 

Then I remembered that I had never been to Cardiff.  I know I've spent a year in Swindon, and Bristol is only across the water from Cardiff, but I hadn't got around to going yet.

City Hall
  Actually, I'd only ever been to Wales once before and that was the Wye Valley with Most Recent Ex last Easter.  This astonishes most other Brits I know, but if you live in Scotland, you have less reason to go to Wales - Wales is stunningly lovely, full of castles and mystery, and very, very rainy, all of which is also true of the West of Scotland.  But that doesn't mean that I hadn't been really keen to go.  And today I had no excuse not to.

To get to Wales from Bristol you cross one of the two Severn Bridges. They are absolutely stunning pieces of engineering, and I deeply regret the fact that I had to drive across and couldn't look at the view properly.  But they're enormous, beautiful bridges built on the Severn Mudflats.  The challenges of building them to stay put were apparently quite astonishing.

City Hall, reflecting the neon from the winter wonderland
  And it's windy there - lanes on the bridges get shut regularly for traffic safety.  One day I will have to find some way of having a proper look.  Geekiness aside, the M4 to Cardiff is also a pretty motorway, through hills, and I drove along cursing the fact that the road was demanding so much of my attention.

I got to Cardiff at about 2.30, and I still hadn't eaten anything, and I was still annoyed about the sheer Charlie-Brown non birthday partiness of the day.  So it took a while for Cardiff to grow on me.  In common with a lot of Britain's best cities, it had been comprehensively flattened over the twentieth century and really isn't that pretty as you drive in.  There are some interesting looking new buildings on the way in, though.  It just looked a bit - well - a bit blah on the way in from the carpark.

The biggest Cineworld that I have ever seen!
  Once again, folks, I was happily wrong.

Once you actually get into the centre Cardiff was much better.  The shops are all flagshippy, there are lots of interesting looking places that I might have eaten if I was with someone/not sulking, and then I found a castle, and then I found the museum.  And as you may know, I really struggle to walk past museums.  It was nice - no dinosaurs this time, but a great archeology bit.  Darn, I wish I wasn't such a geek.  By the time I had stopped admiring a particularly nice Pisarro - such a geek! - the parking had almost run out on the car and I had to rush around the viking gold stuff and not go to the castle at all.  Or find the assembly.  And I really wanted to find the Welsh assembly because - ubergeek! - I wanted to see the place where the perception filter comes out of the floor in Torchwood, a rather lame Doctor Who spin off that I actually really like.

This about sums the city up for me - tiny old facade, big new tower!
  So now I will have to go back!

The drive home was genuinely horrible.  The rain had started and I was worried about ice.  Then I started to get eye strain from the oncoming lights and I couldn't really see the road markings.  I actually got scared enough to stop in a service station and get some fried cheese stuff from Burger King, a chain I normally boycott as evil.  But considering that they are evil, they do good cheese stuff and I managed to get myself unspooked enough to get the rest of the way home safely.  So when I go back, I may have to get the train.  Then the eye strain is someone else's problem... :(

sarahelaine says:
I'm not sure Beijing doesn't win!
Posted on: May 27, 2008
princeza_9 says:
I'm jealous that you got to see Cardiff! I do want to go to Wales, but that won't happen until I get out of Beijing. And you are not alone in your ubergeek-dom- I want to see the water tower and where the invisible lift comes up (I, too, watch Torchwood). :)
Posted on: May 26, 2008
sarahelaine says:
Glamour - I know - that must be the nicest Topshop outside of London!
Sdbleve - It's less the recycled cardboard taste, and more the business ethics! But yes, I avoid the taste too, and those chilly cheese bites were really good and now I feel guilty!
Posted on: Jan 06, 2008
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City Hall
City Hall
City Hall, reflecting the neon fro…
City Hall, reflecting the neon fr…
The biggest Cineworld that I have …
The biggest Cineworld that I have…
This about sums the city up for me…
This about sums the city up for m…
photo by: Vikram