This place really ‘Wales’

By mid Wednesday we were crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales for 2 nights of sightseeing and also to catch up with a couple of friends.

Allowing us to cross the Wye and Severn rivers was our hire car from Kingston upon Thames (in Southwest London), however I should digress and advise as to why we weren’t crossing the bridge even earlier.

Given reliable directions to Kingston upon Thames by bus, we duly set off at around 7.30am for what should have been a trip of around 40 minutes to an hour to get to the car hire place. To facilitate this speedy trip, I was charged with researching the precise route once we alighted the bus. Turns out that my directions lacked a few key elements such as street names so it quickly found us missing our stop and wandering somewhat aimlessly. It was a shame really, as with hindsight, this really was a cute little town that deserved some photos on here.

But, with the mercury already pushing high 20’s, I was in no photo mood at the time, so went off hunting alone for the correct direction for us to travel to collect this car (directions were indeed found with the aid of a friendly lady in an information booth)

Lunching in the gardens

Lunching in the gardens

Thankfully, my directions to Cardiff were much better, and so it wasn’t long before we’d paid our bridge toll (there is a fee on entry) and found ourselves in south Wales.

Our hostel room at NomadsĀ  did the job. Nothing too flash (2 x single beds is always a treat as a couple) but it was clean enough, chocolate wrapper under the bed aside, had free breakfasts and free Wi-Fi which seems to be a fairly standard need these days with all the young kids and their smart phones.

Pre-trip I’d read that the average Cardiff Summer temperature is around 21 degrees, so we’d even packed jeans and a jumper (sweater). Cue more record heat, much the same as what we’d copped in England.

As pretty as it makes the pictures, it can be a real drain on the body, especially as Sarah and I as a general rule like to see as much of the world in our travels on foot (it’s cheaper, better for our fitness and gives great photo opportunities).

Cardiff Bay on a hot summers day

Cardiff Bay on a hot summers day

This also meant after a self guided tour of the city (into the heart of the city then to the harbour and back) we were pretty hot and bothered. Queue lunch in the park amongst many graduating University students, some shade and a great backdrop of green and the City Hall.

A few beers later and we were ready to retire and tackle the new day (after a few Facebook photo uploads to satisfy my mother).

Up early we again hit the pavement after our free hostel breakfast of cheap white toast and sugary jam (washed down with a nice tea) and took in Millennium Stadium, the River Taff and Bute Park before tackling a tour of Cardiff Castle.

Cardiff castle from Bute Park

Cardiff castle from Bute Park

From what I’d read of Cardiff Castle, it sounded like a contrived affair, purely to pull a few tourists. Basically a ‘made up’ castle. Where this confusion came, was from the many changes that had been made to its structure and grounds over its checkered history.

Let me put the record straight here and say it was damn enjoyable. An informative audio guided self tour help blow away a few misconceptions and the whole place was both attractive and very accessible.

Cardiff Castle's lesser seen backside

Cardiff Castle’s lesser seen backside

We had time to sneak in a few Monet’s and other pieces at the National Museum (I’m no passionate art aficionado but I don’t mind some stuff) before taking time for a bite and beer before meeting our mate Pete for a quick catch-up.

We’d met Pete, a local Welshman and his mate Jason on Halong Bay, caught up with them when they made it to Melbourne and thought we’d return the favour here. Jet-lagged (straight of a plane from Antigua) Pete was a good host, and after a quick beer, he bundled us into his car and took us off to see Caephilly Castle around sunset.

Caerphilly at sunset

Caerphilly at sunset

Pete & I

Pete & I

Pretty wrecked after another long, hot day, we said our farewells (hopefully not for the last time) and the sun set on our Welsh adventure.

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