Cardiff, the Capital City of Wales
2 Nights in The Big Sleep Hotel, 28-30 August 2011

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Cardiff Castle
We chose Cardiff for a 'family' short break as this would complete our mission to
visit every capital city of every country on our island. We got a great deal on
coach travel at only £18 return per person (I think it would of cost more in
petrol for my car to drive there myself) and a great rate at 'The Big Sleep
Hotel' although we needed 2 rooms (a separate room for the girls) at£40 per room
per night including a delicious continental breakfast it was a snip!

First leg of the coach journey Darlington to Birmingham was a breeze, however
Birmingham to Cardiff was a horrifying ordeal travelling through ever increasingly depressing landscape behind the ginger haired twin spawn of Satan!
We were greeted on arrival in Cardiff by a torrential downpour of rain, the aforementioned spawn of Satan trampling all over my travel bag & some random mad woman somehow 'judo flipping' herself over my back to land on my head while ripping my handbag off my arm!  What the hell!!!?
First impressions of the hotel were equally as depressing. After 10 minutes of being 'lost' in town we arrived to find reception full of 'eager travelers’as the computer had crashed & no one could check into their rooms! The rooms seemed slightly grim but on closer inspection they were very clean & spacious and the beds were comfortable but the place was in need of painting & the windows were in desperate need of cleaning.

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Cardiff, Capital City of Wales
The sun eventually got out, so we followed it into the city centre. I have to say I
really didn’t care for the place at all. I found it very tired looking& the concrete based shopping centre reminded me of Middlesborough. It was nothing like I expected.
I thought it would be a bit like Edinburgh or a smaller version of London, but if I hadn't learned at school it was the capital city of Wales, you would never know just by visiting. It was August Bank holiday weekend & the only people around appeared to be drunks stood outside of uninviting pubs or hobos drinking from cans staring menacingly at you & I did wonder where all the 'normal people' were....

The castle was spectacular, an absolute gem. Magnificent elaborately decorated staterooms, majestic birds of prey, atmospheric air raid shelter& loads of other 'castley' type features including a 'cattlepoo' (or catapult to you!)
I left wishing I'd paid the extra for a 'premium ticket' & experienced the 50minute tour of the restricted access rooms. I'd recommend the castle to anybody visiting Cardiff. 
A walk by 'the animal wall' leads down to the pretty Bute Park with the unremarkable River Taff flowing through it.
There’s an impressive ‘rear’ view of the castle complete with ‘drawbridge’& moat.

I would also recommend the Welsh National Museum. 'Little Madam' enjoyed the dinosaur exhibits and there's another 3 floors that we didn’t have time to explore. With free admission it’s definitely worth a visit.

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Cardiff Bay
I found the best part of Cardiff to be 'Cardiff Bay', although for future
reference I would advise you to take the bus, train or even pay £6 for a taxidown to the 'Bay' rather than walk 20/25minutes through a dubious neighborhood.
The Cardiff Bay Festival was on during our visit so we sampled some 'fruit beer', marveled at the 'Breitling wing walker girls', tittered at the sideshows, shook an angry fist at the organizers for covering up 'Torchwood Fountain' & breathed a huge sigh of relief for finally being in amongst the 'normal people ' Phew! Here they all are!
The marina area was pretty, as was the Norwegian Church. The 'Scott' exhibition was informative & we enjoyed the long walk down to the 'barrage'. Don't miss the 'lightship' or the rather quirky 'Torchwood Memorial Wall' dedicated to
fictional Ianto Jones. We had a lovely ice cream in 'world famous' Cadwaladers & fish'n'chips from Harry Ramsdens & enjoyed the spectacle of the millennium centre at night.

Leaving Cardiff was equally stressful as arriving. It would seem you need a 'yellow boarding pass' to get onto the coach and then I had to pay an extra £4 because I wasn’t guaranteed we'd get a seat on the coach (even though I'd paid for my tickets weeks in advance) but with a connecting coach to catch I couldn’t take the risk so just paid it. Disgraceful.
All in all I can't see that I would ever return to Cardiff again.
If I really really had to (i.e. if my children’s lives depended on my going to Cardiff) I would only stay in Cardiff Bay.
All contents & photographs copyright ©AngeGraham(the vintage-pirate) & may not be reproduced.
 


Karen
09/14/2011 09:33

Note to self,next time don't eat whilst reading, as choking during laughing can occur! Sounds as though a day trip including the castle is the way to visit Cardiff,as for not getting a guaranteed seat when you paid in advance? they've not heard of the first come, first served rule then....

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Ange
03/05/2012 17:40

Not the best trip we ever had thats for sure!

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