We had plans for the evening to do the Bizarre Bath tour, but we thought a drive into Cardiff would be good for the start of the day. It was about an hour to get there, which wasn’t too bad considering we could get in a tour of the waterfront, the main castle, which had high recommendations, and perhaps stop somewhere interesting on the way back if we had time. It also gave Sasha and I a chance to see the Doctor Who exhibit, since we are both terrible geeks.
It was a very quick drive over, with only a slowdown at the toll gate for the bridge. The GPS was invaluable for driving here, since the signs were largely in Welsh for place names. I could see why the Welsh have been angry at the English for so lone since apparently the English have stolen almost the entire country’s supply of vowels. They did leave a large collection of “L”s apparently since they use about ten in each word.
Yulia was ecstatic at seeing another language here, and attempted pronouncing all the place names that she could find. I eventually had to stop her after running out of tissues to wipe up all the spit that that left on the dash and windshield.
We got to Cardiff, and found that the Doctor Who exhibit moved to London a month back. We were joined by a few frustrated English tourists as well, but since we will be in London in a week or so we can catch it then.
We walked down to Roald Dhal Plas, and along the waterfront for a bit. We saw some wild Swans with newborn swans swimming along the waterfront. The view was beautiful across the harbor. We caught a quick lunch at a place called “Salt”, which was basically a very upscale pub, but cheaper than the ones in Bath, and then headed back to tour Cardiff Castle.
The GPS twisted us around town for a bit, then right into a massive traffic jam. This was Saturday, and we couldn’t figure out what would cause so much traffic all at once. We crawled around corners and forced our way into merging traffic, and then I heard them. The sound was unmistakeable.
Turning the corner we could see the streets packed with screaming drunken sports fans. Scarves for several countries were being waved, horns were blaring, and the stadium was right across from the castle.
This was going to be fun.
After a few minutes it was obvious that we were going to have to pay for parking at one of the sporting car parks, everything was full elsewhere. We found a lot near the castle for £10, and the girl there told us that is was not just rugby, but a motocross, and some third thing in yet another stadium, all witting blocks of each other. Joy.
We got the last spot in her lot, and walked through the park to the castle. The castle itself was magnificent. It was in beautiful shape, with mixes of Roman, 15th century, 17th century, and 20th century changes. Amazing architecture all around. We went through the wall tunnels, which had an audio track of their use as bomb shelters from WWII, walked the parapets and towers, and climbed to the top of the Keep, which was in surprisingly good shape.
The main manor house, which is still used today, is gorgeous. The last family to live there made a series on unique architectural changes including a guilded library, grand dining, small dining that contains special tables to hold live grape vines for dining, and art, armor, and the like.
We took a long time at the castle and once we were done decided to head straight back to Bath so as not to miss the evening tour. We got to our B&B, cleaned up, and took a short rest before heading into town. On the way back to park in town, I took what I thought would be a shorter route to the parking spots, which means that it of course took longer and led me to the wrong spot. Yulia and Sasha head to the Pub to meet the tour, and I ran the car over to the correct location then Ran down to meet the girls at the pub.
I actually ran fast enough that I beat them there, and posed nonchalantly against a railing as they turned the corner. We were just in time for the tour. This was a comedy walk, with no history involved. Basically the guide made fun of Bath, told jokes, and did street magic tricks the whole time. I can’t recommend it enough. It ran pretty long though, and by the end, around 10:30, we were starving. This led us to our next problem to solve, there isn’t much to eat that allows kids past 9:00 or so.
We walked about for a bit, and saw a mediocre pizza place, lots of bars, and finally saw lights on in an Italian place. It turned out to be Jamie Oliver’s restaurant. I loved his show, and was pleased that at least the food would be healthy. Yulia and Sasha waited in line while I ran off to move the car closer to the restaurant. We got our table by the time I got back, and were pleased that the price was pretty reasonable for a celebrity place.
We will be on our way to North Wales in the morning. It shouldn’t be too long a drive.
Or so we thought.