After the Scottish Highlands tour, our next stop was Cardiff, Wales. This meant a long train ride.
If we caught the 6:07am train out of Edinburgh, the ride was six hours long with only one change of trains. Otherwise, the trip would be much longer, with several changes.
We got our tails out of bed in time to catch the 6:07am.
We headed due west to the coast of England. In Crewe, we were to change trains for Cardiff.
As we were approaching the station in Crewe, we knew our exchange was going to be close. We asked the conductor when the train to Cardiff was leaving. He looked it up and said it was leaving in six minutes.
On a different platform.
And, we had luggage.
And, we weren’t at the station yet.
If we missed the train, it meant a wait and probably several more train changes.
So, we had to either go up the stairs with the luggage or find the lift (a Limey elevator) and get to the other train in very little time.
To be honest, it’s all a blur and I don’t remember which we did, but we made the train. Completely out of breath, we squeezed onto the very full train. The ride into Cardiff was crowded, but uneventful.
The scenery around Cardiff wasn’t as nice as other parts of the United Kingdom. In fact, the term that comes to mind is “urban decay”.
We got off the train and caught a cab to our hotel, the Hilton Cardiff. It was in a much nicer area than the train station, and was literally across the street from Cardiff Castle.
We dropped our bags at the hotel, grabbed some food that took way too long, and headed over to the castle.
The Welsh start their partying early. By 3pm, several of the pubs in the area where packed to over-flowing.
As a boy growing up, you have a certain image of what a castle should look like. This is largely based upon the Arthurian tales.
Cardiff Castle matched this image perfectly.
It was essentially a high wall, with a large open area, and a Norman keep built on top of a man-made hill. You could practically see the jousting and games as you walked through the open area.
After several hours exploring the castle (and the area around it), we went back to our hotel to check into our room and clean up. At about 7:30pm, we went out looking for dinner.
We were surprised at how everything seemed to be shutting down. It wasn’t exactly late.
Little did we know that it was just a shift change for the partiers. The early drinkers were going home, but the second wave was coming out.
All the shops closed down, and the bars/pubs really got going.
We decided that Cardiff is the Bourbon Street of Wales. The big thing seemed to be bachelor and bachelorette parties.
Of all sorts.
There was a bachelorette party dressed as World War II soldiers, and a bachelor party in pink tutus.
We found dinner then walked around for hours. It was a huge party area, probably ten blocks by ten blocks or so.
We liked how open everything was. You weren’t jammed together unless you went into one of the popular pubs. Otherwise, you could walk around and never be bumped into (unlike most such party areas).
The highlight of the night was probably the Welsh polka, Johnny Cash cover band. That was some good stuff.
We actually stayed out until nearly midnight. Considering we’d been up since about 4:30am, that was pretty impressive.
The next morning, we went down to Cardiff Bay. We’d been on an island for over a week and hadn’t seen salt water close up (only from a distance on the train).
Then, we took the train back to London, and got ready for the long flight back to Texas.
Tech Notes: All images shot on my Nikon D200 with either a Sigma 24-70 or a Sigma 15-30 lens. Images were processed in Photoshop Elements.