Once we made it to Paddington we had some time to grab breakfast or whatever which I took advantage of. I also got to pet a cute pitbull puppy at the Paddingtom Station. The train ride to Cardiff Central wasn’t long at all only about 2 hours and quite pleasant until a group of day drinking guys decided to be obnoxious and loud throughout the two cabins that were adjacent to one another.
Our cheeky tour guide welcomed us to Wales, the land of perpetual sunshine, or liquid sunshine as it was. First thing we did after getting to the Cardiff central station was to get on our tour bus and headed to Cardiff Bay. We passed through the Victorian town area which was quite small but housed lovely Victorian buildings. As we drove to the Bay every sign we passed had both Welsh and English as was mentioned to us yesterday.
Cwtch which is welsh for come closer was the first word of Welsh that we’ve learned. The Wales millennium center opened by “our dear Queen” home to a number of organizations and two theaters a huge one and one that only houses a few hundred spectators. This building is the one winged by slate covered portions; slate was exported from Wales throughout the world in fact. The center part, covered in steel tiles was taken from the fact that Wales was deeply involved in steel and its trade. The grey etched line across the glass face is representing the Welsh horizon. The inscriptions one welsh; the truth like glass is forged in the furnace of inspiration, one English; in these stones and horizons sing.
The next building we came to, built at the end of the 19th century was built as offices. Offices for the Bute Docks Company, lovely red brick building that just exudes money. Numbers of docks increased because the ship sizes increased and thus the import capacity increased as well. 11 million tons of coal were exported in just one year from Wales. Together four ports of Wales exported 26 million tons of coal in one year; huge trading boon for Welsh coal. An inscription on the red brick building was “Wrth Ddwr a Than” aka by water and by fire: the ocean being the water and the coal being the fire. This was the coal that supported the industrial revolution.
The third building was right on the freshwater bay. The wooden structures coming out of the water are called Dolphins, ships would dock at those when the tide was too low for them to get to the actual docks. Road Dahl as it turns out was baptized in the white church just on the Cardiff Bay. Having been born here due to his fathers business being here Dahl was baptized and lived here in Wales. The building with the funky top is the local 5 star hotel interestingly enough. Senedd or the senate is the last building; home to the Welsh assembly government again, opened by The Queen. Ecological, patriotic and democratic are the descriptors given to the building. Ecological because of the rain water collected and reused, the natural lighting, the geothermal heating and cooling and lastly the natural ventilation system. Patriotic due to the building material, slate stone, steel columns & glass from Swansea University. Democratic because of the transparency of the buildings goings on, the round column in the center sits over the round chamber, accessible to those with handicaps, in English and Welsh, and round so that all can see and hear one another in meetings, the other democratic feature is the public gallery in which people can go to see and hear the debates, a little joke our guide mentioned was the the column in the center goes straight up to the ventilation system and thus the hot air from the debates just rises up and away. The welsh government has devolved powers thus not being able to control their army, their taxes or a few other important features.
Lunch was a struggle choosing between the Pennette Bolognese or Fiorentina pizza at Pizza Express. I ended up going with the pasta in the end. We also got a plethora of starters as well with the group order. Plates with bread, mozzarella, salami, sausage, peppers, olives and tomatoes which was just great! My pasta was very good and quite filling. Dessert was a raspberry sorbet with a lemon tart and a brownie to be split. I also made friends with a cute dog after leaving the restaurant.
Tiger bay was the name given to Cardiff bay by the Portuguese who thought they heard the sound of tigers roaring when in reality it was the roar of the wind. We passed the Welsh Principality stadium home to Welsh rugby; rugby is more or less their religion here. We passed Cardiff castle on the way to the open air museum. Passed again through the 19th century Victorian area on our way to the castle. On the castle itself, next to the clock tower, the light stone of the towers means 18th century, dark stone is later 18th century renovations, at the top of the square tower is a summer garden.
Cardiff has a population of about 350,000 people with 30,000 university students. We drove in cathedral road, another premier living area with beautiful homes that have been renovated into either multi occupancy homes, offices or other businesses. The homes are still understandably quite expensive on that street, they’re ornate, beautiful and in a more posh area. Even still some houses just down the road cost 4/500,000 pounds! The posh private school we passed that used to be only women now accepts men due to economic pressures.
We passed through the city of St Fagans where we’re told there are prehistoric remains from the people who lived here prior to invaders, I found that really which I found quite striking. There was also a Tudor house that the Windsors once owned with Tudor houses around it that would have likely been for the workers of the estate. Random fun fact;Cardiff became a city in 1905, then later became a Capital in 1955.
St Fagan’s is a historical account of what normal life would have been like rather than what rich and pompous like was like back then. The three stops we went to were more or less charting the wealth of the Welsh nation. Our first stop inside the museum was Kenninxton near Swansea; the house was agriculture focused, and based in the early 17th century. The building was painted red in order to “chase away the devil” typically this red would have been ox blood. While we were standing outside the house a little bird came and landed by the house and just hopped around until it left us to go around he corner.
The second house we came to was a Northern Welsh house from the 18th century–1762 specifically. The fence was made of slate and the cottage was made of large boulders, built for quarry men.
The third stop was nearby the May pole, looking at the Gwalia store, by this period it would have been well into the industrial revolution. Thus people were moving into two centers now rather than living on a farm and being able to feed themselves; the answer was the Gwalia stores created to fill the niche of providing provisions for the townspeople. It turned into more or less an apartment store having a grocery, an iron monger, clothes, etc.
Our last stop was a little row of cottages(built for iron stone workers) from a town about 30 miles north of Cardiff, known for iron making. Iron ore, limestone, wood and coal all plentiful. We were tasked with finding the house with the canary cage behind the door. A second task was to look at the ceiling to see which home was built to take a coffin up and down were someone to die upstairs. Third was figuring out how people extended their homes/ got a toilet they couldn’t go back since the canal was there and these homes weren’t built with bathrooms in them either unfortunately for them so we were tasked with looking for the added on pink toilet.
I got to pet a cute Scotty dog in between checking out old buildings which was nice and refreshing. It did happen to rain or perhaps it would be better to call it a downpour since it was raining pretty heavily. I hightailed it for the bus since I wasn’t too keen on being stranded in the area and read my book and napped for a bit which was nice and relaxing. It also helped that I had seen a fair bit in our mini tour and just walking around on my own as well so I we pretty satisfied with what I saw. While I’m not the biggest fan of rain it was rather nice and made things look all the more green and enhanced the haziness that was already there.
The Prince of Wales, the cafe in the old library, and places around church street are all places that I considered for getting a bite to eat at. Devon and I ended up eating at Glassworks which was a good choice. Devon got the fish& chips while I went for the cheese and bacon burger with chips and I also ordered a small beer; the Purple Reign in honor of The Queen’s 90th birthday. The burger was delicious and the cheese was super yummy so I was pleased and Devon also enjoyed her meal rating it 8/10 so not bad at all! We next made our pilgrimage to search for ice cream, as you might expect we found a place pretty quickly. We ended up at Kaspas for some super good dessert! I got the cookie dough with a scoop of white chocolate gelato–yes, it was amazing in case you were wondering!
After dinner/ dessert we walked to the local theater where we could see a movie for 4 pounds!! We went to the Vue theater and saw the newest Captain America movie. The movie got out pretty late so we made it back to the hostel at about 1/1:3oam, and then talked outside with some classmates and headed for bed. Overall a pretty good day full of great things! Until tomorrow, pretty excited to see the castle!