17/01/11 – Cardiff City
Inspired by our recent travels and keen to fit in another overnight trip before our first visit to Portugal, the capital of Wales looked promising. The city centre seems too compact to contain so many points of interest. Yet it is easily explored on foot. We had chosen The Parc Hotel (Thistle chain) as it was in the heart of the town and made parking easy. I had just finished a night shift so Jayne drove the car. I awoke just as we crossed the border in to Wales at the Severn Bridge toll booths.
Abandoning the car, we strolled through the shopping precincts toward Cardiff Castle where were lucky to have a ‘personal’ guided tour of the castle house. Lucky because due to construction work in the building, guided tours had been made mandatory and equally, because we were the only people on that particular tour. The interior was a demonstration of opulent indulgence. It was no surprise to hear that the Marquis of Bute that made the family fortune was not the same Marquis to spend it on the castle. Nor that the next Marquis gave the castle to the city…
It was a damp day but that would not prevent us from exploring the town. Our walk took in the Millennium Stadium on the bank of the River Taff, the indoor market, more of the town centre culminating in a relaxed tour of some of the pubs, enjoying the local Brains Brewery ale.
18/01/11 – Cardiff Docks
Having checked out, our morning plan was to visit Cardiff Docks. The docks had lost their industrial significance with the closure of the coal mines, however they have undergone regeneration and the area is now a hive of activity being home to the Welsh Assembly, the Welsh National Opera, many bars and restaurants.
It was a much brighter day so far more pleasant for walking. On arrival, we enjoyed a coffee at an authentic French café before circling the docks taking in the mixture of architecture: The Wales Millennium Centre, dock offices, assembly building and a timber church previously used by Norwegian fisherman. We ate our pub lunch outdoors, sampling some other Brain’s beers.
The Brecon Beacons
To make the most of our day, we decided to extend the drive home by venturing north through the Beacons before heading south east back to the Severn Bridge.
On such a clear day, the views of the high ground were fabulous but all over too soon as the need to press on home grew. The relatively quick drive home proved that revisiting the Brecon Beacons to climb some of the peaks was a viable option for a day trip.