Cardiff is the capital of Wales and is situated in the south of the city. Although once considered ‘rough’, it is now a modern capital city and a tourist ‘hot spot’. The easiest way to access Cardiff from Bristol, England.
Hop on a National Express Bus from Bristol. It takes about 3-4 hours to reach Cardiff and costs under 20 quid. Once there its a short walk to the Riverhouse Backpackers hostel. This is a very nice hostel with friendly staff and, although uncooked, an amazing free breakfast. It is located just across the river from the Millennium Stadium where Rugby games are held, which are a must see if you’re there during the season.
A 10 minute walk and you are in the centre of town. Very reminiscent of many smaller English shires, in town you’ll find a good range of shopping malls (Queens St), arcades and the central market. When hunger strikes, try some of the traditional foods. Crawl is a delicious and hearty soup made with lamb. Faggots, chips and peas is another local favourite (faggots are like meatballs made from liver.) If you’re lucky enough to be around anywhere near xmas then the main streets will be filled with Christmas lights and mulled wine, hot chocolate with baileys, hot dogs with sausages from around the world, nutella pancakes and many more treats will be on offer.
It seems in every place in the UK there is a Walkabout pub for the homesick aussies. You can grab a decent pizza at Revolution situated just across from the Cardiff Castle and try out Cafe Jazz for a very well priced Sunday roast (on Sunday of course) with free wifi and very friendly staff.
When your feeling active you can take a nice walk on the Taff Trail, situated just up the road from the Riverhouse Backpackers hostel all the way to Mermaid Key. There you’ll find a ‘shrine’ to Ianto Jones, who was a fictional character from Torch Wood (a Dr Who Spin-off). You also see the Roald Dahl Plass, a childrens science centre called Techniques, loads of restaurants and bars, speed boat rides, a Norwegian church and wetlands. All very nice but nothing special. By the time you’ve done all that you’ll probably be too tired to walk back so jump on the Ferry which leaves from under the bridge. It only costs 3 quid and the guide gives you a bit of information on the way.
A definite must see is the Cardiff Castle. Most of its history, as well as Cardiff’s, is surrounded by the Bute’s’ family. Pick up an audio guide (included in the entry fee) and take a leisurely stroll around. Behind it is Bute’s Park which is another great place for a stroll. One a clear day when looking from the tower inside the castle grounds, you can see another castle also owned by the Bute’s. This is more of the fairy tale type castle and is a few hours walk along the Taffs Trail.
Of course, Cardiff also has all the main things every city has such as a city hall, the national gallery (free), a winter wonderland (in the winter of course) including a Ferris wheel and ice skating, and a library, which incidentally, is closed on Sundays. One more place to check out is Hayes street. There, among other shops, you will find Spiller Records, which was the first record shop in the world. It has been there since 1894. It is surprisingly small.
All in all, Cardiff is very quaint town. It can be a little rowdy when the rugby is on but the drunken fans aren’t nearly as bad as those football (soccer) hooligans. It is definitely worth a visit.
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