Cardiff Travel Blog› entry 5 of 11 › view all entries
I headed out early, saying goodbye to my sleepy friends as I was making my way off to Cardiff for a solo day trip.
I managed to make it up to Paddington in lots of time before my train, so I grabbed a cup of tea to wake myself up a bit more. Got on the train and luckily had no one seated beside me the whole trip out.
After about two hours we were finally arriving in Cardiff, and I happened to look out my window, which faced out to some tracks and then some people's backyards, and what do I see but a "Police Public Call Box"! Now either someone was a very big Doctor Who fan, or else they were meant to be filming there at some point that day.
I got out into the train station to find out that they didn't have a luggage check there; I had to go up to the visitor's centre which was a bit of a walk with what I had, at least according to the map I was given. I grabbed a taxi instead and was there within a couple of minutes.
Once I'd dropped off my luggage and had only the barest minimum of what I needed for the day, I decided I'd head down to Cardiff Bay first and then work my way back up so as to make sure I'd get back in time to get my luggage before the centre closed.
Since it was a bright and sunny day I decided to walk down as I had my map and everything was pretty straightforward, from what I could tell as they had good signage.
Being the Doctor Who and Torchwood fan I am, I took pictures of places I recognized where they'd filmed: the Millinieum Centre and the fountain directly in front of it. Unfortunately they were doing some work on the fountain so it wasn't running, but I was still able to get some decent photos since the fencing wasn't really in the way.
I stopped into a little Chinese "buffet" as it was right next door to the Doctor Who exhibit. I put "buffet" in quotes as per my Canadian/North American standards, it wasn't too much of a buffet. I'm used to multiple tables of food to choose from as your entrée, not just one. And maybe it was because I was so tired from all the running around I'd done in the last few days, but the food itself didn't sit all that well with me.
After I finished that I made my way into the exhibit. Luckily I was allowed to take pictures while in there, so I snapped pics of everything I saw. They had a couple of interactive bits, but overall it was just for those of us who needed to geek out and see costumes and props up close and personal.
I then decided I didn't want to walk all the way back up into the main part of town, so on my way to check out where their light rail headed, I stopped at that roundabout and took a picture of the "LOC" sign (yes, I am that geeky ;) and then found out that the train wouldn't really be going too close to Cardiff Castle, my intended next stop. The driver was kind enough to point me to the "bendy bus" (hee!) that had a stop just outside the rail area.
Within a few minutes, the bus arrived and I was on my way up to the castle.
Just as I paid for my entry and I walked outside, the rain finally let loose. I tried to use my umbrella, but it ended up being rather useless with all the wind! One of the girls working the doors led me inside and indicated where I had to go for the indoor tour, which was to start within 15 minutes. The rain had quickly passed by this point, so I took some pictures outside of the castle grounds before heading upstairs to await my guide. I managed to get a few great pictures from up there of the castle keep in the centre of the grounds with a rainbow forming up behind it.
I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be the only person on the tour when a couple more travellers (one from Asia, the other from Australia) came up nearer the time. Our guide finally came out and took us on a 45 minute tour of the interior of the castle, which, as I found out, as it stands today had only been built between 100-150 years ago by a very rich man named Bute. There has always been some sort of castle/fortification over many centuries, but not to the extent it is today. Quite a neat place, if a bit extravagant for my tastes! ;) Unfortunately photos weren't allowed during the tour as they're trying to preserve everything that is there.
Once we were done inside I wandered the grounds a bit more, took some pictures and then headed off toward the main shopping arcades to see what I could find.
I asked if there were taxis that would be waiting down where I'd been left off, and the gentleman behind the counter said he was fairly certain there should be. Unfortunately, once I got there, there were no taxis to be found and it was beginning to rain harder. I decided to head toward the Marriott that was a bit down the road as I was pretty sure either they would have taxis waiting or they might be nice enough to call one for me.
Soaking wet, I finally made it into the main lobby and asked the desk clerk about a taxi. When I told her where I wanted to go, she said that I'd be wasting my money as the train station was only a couple minutes walk from the hotel.
After what took longer than a couple of minutes, I was finally at the station, myself and everything I owned soaked through. Fortunately it was only the top layers that were soaked, so I didn't have to worry about too much damage.
It was a quick trip from Cardiff to Bristol, but unfortunately my stop in Bristol was across town from the bus station. I asked a worker there what was the fastest way to get to the bus station, and he vaguely talked about taking the light rail over there. At that point I was in no mood to navigate yet another city's transportation system, so I made my way downstairs to the lovely heat of a waiting taxi. The driver got me there quite quickly, but unfortunately a few minutes late for the bus I wanted to catch, and the next didn't come for an hour.
After a little bit of confusion as to where I wanted to go (I asked for the bus for "Wells" and the guy was hearing me say "Wales"), I was pointed to where I needed to wait. It was an interesting hour, with the usual bus station types wandering about. I guess that's one thing that never changes no matter where you go! ;-)
The trip from Bristol to Wells was a little longer than I thought, and had quite the crazy driver down those little streets, but that was par for the course, so I found out. Fortunately when I arrived at my stop in the city centre my friends Sue and Denise were out there waiting for me. Tired and ready for bed, I followed behind them up to our lovely accommodations at the end of a cobbled street and settled in for the night.