Exploring Cardiff

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust 

Cardiff, the Welsh capital is a known place for many travellers. A casual discussion with a friend lead to the creation of a travel plan to Cardiff and Llandudno (more about it in a later post). So, here I was waiting in the queue of Manchester Shudehill bus stop to board the bus for Cardiff. The Megabus service (https://uk.megabus.com/) runs daily buses from Manchester to Cardiff although the timings are different for weekdays and weekends. I must say the almost five-hour journey was strenuous, but the thousand thoughts that came to my mind while travelling made it less painful. 

I passed through Birmingham where the bus stopped for twenty minutes . After giving the passengers a chance to stretch their legs, it moved on to Bristol and finally reached Cardiff late in the afternoon. I now had even less than a day to visit the place as we had an early morning train for the next day. We decided to go where our road lead us. Our first destination was the Cardiff Castle. 

So, this was the grounds of the Castle. It was almost 3:30 pm so we decided to skip wandering around and head straight to the museum, which was beautiful and the Arab Room with its ornate ceilings caught my attention. This (below) is a photograph of the ceiling of the main hall of the Castle. The beautiful and ornate decor of the room made me want to settle there  and never leave the place. In fact, the walls had sculptures, paintings and murals all depicting the rich history of the city and the Castle.  

Thereafter, we headed to the watch tower (photograph below). On the way to the watchtower there was a beautiful moat and well. Let me share this with you, I have extreme ill luck falling over every moat I have visited till date. Thank God this was a nice one and prevented me from creating a hat-trick.

Its one steep climb to the top of the Watch tower but its all worth the amazing view from up there. We took some time in exploring the grounds of the castle which was hosting a small fair. From children’s archery to dressing up like the medieval men and women everything had its exemplifying aura. I captured this young kid with his mom playing happily in the castle grounds. 

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware. “- Martin Buber 

My friend and I are both fans of Doctor Who. Having known that the Doctor Who Adventure Centre is in Cardiff, how could we have not gone there. We started making our way to the Doctor Who Adventureland. On our way, we crossed the market place. It was buzzing with people and tourists. The colourful shops were tempting with its little curios. The small and cozy cafes were full of people enjoying a drink and evening snack. I present to you two of my most favourite shots from the market. 

I love bubbles. Many of us do. But such huge ones. . . Wow! 

This young man was teaching the little girl how to make beautiful earthenware. Though we wanted to stop and make one for ourselves , Doctor Who was calling us, so we decided to give it a skip. 

Interestingly, after looking several times at the map, getting lost, taking the parallel way round and asking about a few people, we reached the Doctor Who Experience . . . . ..  only to find out the last admissions were at 3:30 pm. *SIGH* . On the positive side, we could at least see the place from outside and with a little peek inside the blue windows we could see huge replicas of the Daleks. 

“We all become great explorers during our first few days in a new city, or a new love affair. “- Mignon McLaughlin
We decided to stop over at a pub in the Cardiff Bay to catch a drink, from where this photograph (below ) had been shot. 

Thereafter, we decided to wander around the Cardiff Bay. There were lots of activities to do considering that we went in the middle of the Cardiff festival. We had a great time viewing the city from the Barry Eye (Cardiff Eye). This was my first time getting up on an Eye and the view was amazing.  We attended the fair and saw some of the stalls. Most of the stalls were pirate themed and were ideal places for children to enjoy themselves in. Below is a photograph of the Cardiff Bay from the Eye. 

This (above) is a photograph of the Cardiff Festival near the bay. It was taken from the Eye again. 

“How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.”- R. Buckminster Fuller
 If you thought our journey was nearing the end of its time in Cardiff, you are wrong. It had just begun. We had to find our hostel. Though we had our maps with us, being new to the city and having found out that the roads have  really less road signs , we decided to go with our understanding of the map. The Result: We were lost in the middle of a highway with no footpath! Being a Sunday, there was not a soul in the streets to ask for directions. Thankfully we saw one hotel and asked for directions. But messed up again. We decided to start all over from the pierside. Luck was at our side when a nice fellow, whose run we disrupted , helped us find our way back. Even then, we had to walk for quite sometime to find our hostel. This photograph was taken while we were hunting for our hostel.

We stayed at the YHA Cardiff which was an amazing hostel and I highly recommend it. Their website is http://www.yha.org.uk/ .

Having freshened up we decided to go out in the city for dinner. It was almost 9pm and thankfully my friend enquired if the city would be opened. Our friendly receptionist answered that being a Sunday it was difficult to find anything open. So, we had dinner at the hostel ordering it just a minute before their kitchen too closed 😛 .

Then we set out for my usual late- night travel walks. . . . . the last one was taken in London and then this one in Cardiff. The city was quiet, a stark contrast to what I saw in London. But the few pubs that were opened in the city -centre had rows of guests standing outside with drinks in their hands. After roaming aimlessly around the city for almost two hours, we decided to call it a day as we had to catch a 5 am train for the next day. Below is a photograph that I took at night. 

My next destination was even more thrilling -Llandudno. While Cardiff was in the extreme South, Llandudno was in the extreme North. But it was an amazing experience. More about Llandudno in my upcoming posts. I leave you today with a photo of the Cardiff Central station. It is empty because not many people board trains that early in the morning. But it signifies that the journey continues. . . . . 

Have you visited Cardiff before? Do let me know in your comments what you think of the place. 

107 Replies to “Exploring Cardiff”

  1. I love going to festivals when I travel. Did you plan your trip around the Cardiff festival or did it just happen to be going on when you went there? Lol @ you falling into moats. I’m clumsy too so I can relate.

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  2. I’ve never actually been to Cardiff but it looks like an awesome place to visit. Using the Megabus is a bit crappy, but it’s cheap and in most cases cheaper than the National Express so that’s good! I love the pics by the way!

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  3. This seems like a perfect day trip to little Cardiff with quite a few things to see and do. The castle is one place where I would spend most of my day. Very nicely compiled article this one. Glad you enjoyed your time out there

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  4. I haven’t visited Cardiff before but it’s on my list, I want to go and explore Wales sometimes soon. I guess that even if it’s a big city, by night it gets empty, same as my little town in Dorset. Cardiff looks lovely, I didn’t know there was an “eye”, similar with the one in London.

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  5. Such a bummer about missing Dr. Who! How crazy for it to close that early — and you could’ve made pottery. Oh well, the price of travel is that it doesn’t always go perfectly, right? Cardiff looks like a fun place with lots of cultural things to do 😀

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    1. Yes, Wales wasnt first in my list either. But I had been to London and Glasgow . As i dont belong to the UK or Europe by birth, I would have restrcitions in going to Ireland. So, Wales was the last in my list and it had to be done. 🙂

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  6. Oh wow, the Dr Who Centre must have been fun. I forgot that it is now produced in Cardiff. I have a friend who used to live there and it is a great city. I love staying in YHA hostels. They have improved so much over the years. Glad you enjoyed the

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  7. I’m sold on the Dr Who centre! That’s such a shame they had a cut-off though. I would have been on my knees begging them for even the tiniest look around! I wonder what’s inside? A wax model of David Tennant? I’d pay big money for that ha ha! But seriously, Cardiff Castle looks incredible. Would love to visit, never been.

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    1. Well, from the outside we could get a tiny glimpse and I saw huge models of the Daleks. I would definitely love to no if theres a wax model of any of the doctor Whos inside. High time Madame Tussauds gets one 😛 ! Anyway, if you do visit it would love to hear of your experience.:)

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  8. On my last trip to London, we almost planned Cardiff but then, could not make it there. If I had known then about how amazing it is, I would have made some alterations to fit this in. One day does not seem sufficient here. Thanks for sharing it all.

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    1. Oh sorry to hear that you could not make it. If you get a chance you should try it. Its great. in fact, cardiff and snowdonia are the most famous places in Wales but since we could not make it to snowdonia we chose llandudno instead and got to see three attractions in a day -conwy, llandudno and deganwy village. 🙂

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  9. Bus journeys can be extremely tiring I must say, but I always feels thrilled when I finally get to the destination that I forget about being worn out and just want to explore! From all the things you got to do in just an afternoon I guess it was the same for you! haha 🙂
    I love your shots, especially the one of the little girl learning how to make a clay pot. It really conveys a feeling of tranquility and joy to me.

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  10. I was aware there was another “Cardiff” out there, but hadn’t realized it was in Wales. I live in southern California, and here we have Cardiff-by-the-Sea. I have no idea what the connection is, if any, but I see no resemblance between the two. How cool that you got to explore the real Cardiff — love the castle and the “Eye”.

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    1. I agree. i mean 3 : 30 pm is not a great time for closing an Adventureland. But rules are rules and what can one do. i made a brief stopover at Bristol city centre. since I have never really visited the place Im not too sure how Bristol is. but Cardiff has quite a lot of things to do and one can enjoy to the fullest.

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  11. LOL, we stayed in the YHA Hostel in Cardiff back in 2013!

    I think Cardiff is an underrated little city and we were really lucky to head up to Caerphilly Castle as well.

    Such a shame you weren’t able to get up there.

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    1. Yes, we had a strict schedule considering that me and my friend came from different part of England and met up in Cardiff for this vacation. We now we missed quite a few things, but we were happy to be able to make the trip and enjoy so many things. 🙂

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  12. We have been to Cardiff as a part of our UK trip and we planned Bristol as a base. 5 hours travel certainly is hectic and much of your time looks like have been spent in travelling. Cardiff Castle and Bay are definitely not to miss and looks like you had a great time exploring them.

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    1. Yes. I agree we spent quite sometime travelling but our plans were according to the availability of people from completely different parts of UK. So, here and there we had to adjust a bit. Though we got less time to see, I have no regrets. 🙂

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  13. The photographs and information was really helpful. I have read about the English, Irish, French and now the Welsh today. I think I have been in Asia too long, now I am really ready for a European swing. The photo of the ceiling was so nice and I am sorry you missed Dr. Who. I know that would have been a great exhibit.

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    1. I have been living in Asia for the past 15 years (India to be precise). This is just a year that im in the UK for higher studies. So I dont want to miss any part of the country. 🙂 Yes its sad we couldnt make it to the Doctor Who but at least we saw it from outside. 🙂

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    1. Thank you. Im sure you will like it. If you have time try to visit the Cardiff University even if you get a glimpse from the outside. Its one of the best for media studies and overall in the UK. I didnt get a chance to see it cause I had less time to explore the city and also it was way too far on the opposite direction from the city centre.

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