It's All Welsh To Me
Cardiff Travel Blog› entry 70 of 94 › view all entries
Leaving Scotland was difficult; I had come to love its delicious food including haggis, haggis chips (crisps as some of you like to call them), deep fried haggis, the delicious bubblegum flavoured Scottish soft drink named Ironbrew and shortbread. But there were some culinary experiences I wouldn’t miss, namely whiskey. However, I wonder how it would have fared if it had of been haggis flavoured ….
Katie and I were heading to greener pastures, and then further south - travelling by train from Edinburgh via Birmingham to Cardiff, Wales. Yes the capital of Wales was calling and I was eager to see the sites of the city including the museums, the university, Cardiff Bay and Torchwood.
For those of you who aren’t avid sci-fi viewers, Torchwood is the spinoff series of Doctor Who and is set in Cardiff. Torchwood is the anagram of Doctor Who, and being such a fan of this show, I couldn’t believe that I was going to be able to walk in the areas portrayed on the show, and walk I did.
Tom James (no not to be confused with the other famous Welshman, Tom Jones) met up with me. JT is a Welsh lad I met while in Eastern Europe and he took me around and showed me around his city. We visited an inner city university café where we ate our huge breakfast of baked beans, toast, sausage, bacon, hash brown, eggs, toast and coffee. After this culinary stop, we visited the free (I do so love this word) National Museum of Cardiff located in Cathays Park.
After this cultural interlude we walked around the city. Now when I say we walked, I mean we walked … a lot – 21 kilometres in fact and during this walk we saw many of the touristy sites including the Millennium Stadium (Stadiwm Y Mileniwm), City Hall (Neuadd y Ddinas), Parliament (Senedd), Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru (Wales Millennium Centre) and a whole lot of other places with crazy spelling.
I do love the look of the Welsh language. Katie had been explaining it to me but from memory all I could remember was that a double ‘f’ meant, well ‘f’ and a double ‘d’ made the sound similar to a ‘th’ but not quite.
The famous singsong Welsh accent comes from Valley region and when some locals talked to me with this strong accent, I could do nothing but look and smile. I wasn’t being rude, it was just so melodic that I think somewhere along the way I was expecting Tom Jones or Shirley Bassey songs to come out of their mouths as well. Perhaps a rendition of “It’s Not Unusual”?
But it was not just the accents that impressed me about Cardiff - it was also the people and the beauty of the place.
Previously I had been to Wales, years earlier I had visited Snowdonia National Park and slept in the hire car during the middle of winter using public restrooms for toileting and washing facilities. I had fallen in love with the natural beauty of the place then, but in Cardiff I got to fall in love with the history too.
Cardiff Castle has a lot of history and is an impressive place to visit, but for £10.50, both Vicki (a lovely English lass whom I use to teach with in New Zealand before she rudely packed up and left us to return to England to be with her family - quite rightly too, just a bit rude of her to have moved so far away!) thought it was too much so we didn’t bother. Instead we walked around the outside of the castle and oohed and ahhed from a distance. But fate is a beautiful thing.
As we were walking around the back of the castle there was a gate that was open. We walked to the open gate and as we were about to walk in, a family was departing and then realising they would be leaving the castle complex, turned around again. The gate watchman did not realise that we had joined in their family group thereby saving us a whopping £10.
Now I know I didn’t pay the entry, and I should have felt bad, but I didn’t. However, having walked around the area, I was impressed at the place. You can walk up to the top of the keep for impressive views over the city and you can even hang out at the Falconry.
Although on show during part of the day, these are working birds. Vicki, being quite the twitter? tweeter? twitcher? bird enthusiast and really enjoyed this section a lot. Me, not being such a bird person, just thought they looked cute and pretty.
Vicki and I then spent the afternoon shopping for my thimble collection (really starting to sound super cool aren’t I after mentioning I enjoy watching sci-fi and now with the thimble collection.
Barry Island, now made famous by the TV programme “Gavin and Stacey”, which I have never seen, but by all reports is very good, was a popular destination on the day we visited. Fish and chips with vinegar were mandatory as was the perusal through many of the trinket shops that lined the beach.
All in all I have had a terrific time in Cardiff. It’s been a lot of fun catching up with people who I haven’t seen for years (Katie and Vicki) or months (TJ). But I know ”It’s Not Unusual” for me to say I’ll be back as there is still so much I want to see and do there.
Hwyl fawr from Cardiff