Croeso i Gymru! Welcome to Wales. 

Six a.m. came early this morning as I got ready to travel to Wales. Since this was a daytrip, I wanted to make the most of it. So, the group I was going with left the dorms at 6:45 a.m. to make the earliest train to Wales. Also the tube has been a little sketchy these past few days so we needed extra time just in case the tube by our dorms wasn't operating and we needed to find another route. Luckily, the tube was working fine and we made it in time to the train station. 

Being tourists we were a little confused on how our train passes worked. Lauren asked a station worker if our passes would get us all the way to Wales. He told her all we needed to do was buy an extension pass once on the train. Easy enough! 

After we boarded the train, we settled in to our seats and prepared for the hour-long journey to Wales. We felt like VIPs because when the ticket checker came by and looked at our passes she let us ride without even buying an extension ticket. So we saved some money there; extra points!

A mixture of Welsh and English greeted us as we left the train station and began walking on Welsh soil. It was really neat being in a bilingual country. All of the signs were in both Welsh and English. Since we didn't really have an agenda, we just started exploring. All exploration leads to castles, right? At least for us it did.

After walking down the brick paved streets where Welsh flags hung on the light posts, we landed at the front door of Cardiff Castle. 

Here we took the premium tour of the castle and got to see the "private" rooms. These rooms were highly decorative and the immense amount of detail was unbelievable. All of the rooms had a theme. For example, the "Gentlemen's Room" was designed to reflect time. This included hours, seasons, months and days of the week. All around the room sculptures and paintings illustrated the theme. In the corners of the walls there were depictions of each god that represents the days of the week. Also each of the four walls represented a different season. It was really amazing. I can't imagine how long it took to design each of these rooms. One of my favorite parts of the castle tour was going up to the garden tower. If I had been a princess living in this Welsh castle the garden would have definitely been where I would have spent my time. Although there aren't any plants growing there now, I could still imagine what it looked like with greenery hanging all around and mixing in with the marble fountains. 

As soon as our tour was over the weather had gone from a sunny pleasant morning to a rainstorm. Great! So after our tour, we popped open our umbrellas and ran to the tower part of the castle where you could look out over Cardiff City. Despite the rain, the view was really nice. 

We quickly climbed back down from the tower and left the castle in search of food and shelter. We found it in a little Italian restaurant. Yes, we were in Wales, but we didn't know what traditional Welsh food was so we settled for Italian food.

By the time we were finished with lunch, the sun was back out and we were ready for more exploring. 

We had three Dr. Who fans in our group so we made our way to Cardiff Bay to the Dr. Who museum is. 

Booths, singers, dancers and a giant robot flooded the streets of Cardiff Bay as the town celebrated some kind of festival. Lauren, Jennifer and I skipped the Dr. Who museum and walked around the town stopping at the little shops and watching the performers. We even took a tour of the Cardiff Bay Pierhead, which is known as Wales' own Big Ben. This historical landmark used to be a commerce focal point.  After snapping a few pictures in front of the shoreline and Pierhead we walked around admiring the bay area. Our hair was basically strangling us because the wind was so crazy. 

While walking, we spotted this group of older men and women dancing in patchwork shirts and traditional skirts. Naturally, we were intrigued. We timidly made our way over to them to see what all the dancing was about. As we inched our way closer to the men we realized the dancing was some form of traditional Welsh celebration. The reporter in me wanted to ask someone what they were celebrating; all I needed was an entry point. One of the older men soon smiled at me and immediately I knew he was friendly and that I had found my access point. 

I struck up a conversation and he explained that he was part of the Forest of Dean Morris Men and the dance groups were celebrating 40 years of the Cardiff Ladies Morris (another dance group). These guys were so incredibly friendly and nice we stayed and talked for a while. We told them we were from Texas and were studying in London, but they were surprised we were Texans because we were missing that Texan drawl. So putting my acting years into practice, I gave them the stereotypical "Texas accent" and they were appeased. Before leaving we took a group picture with them. This made my day!

We decided to head back to the castle and look for souvenirs on the way. We did find some authentic Welsh food, Welsh cakes. These cakes looked like mini chocolate chip pancakes with sugar on top. They were really good. 

Wales isn't really a top tourist destination so souvenir shops were rare. The only one we found was by the Cardiff Castle. 

As Jennifer, Lauren and I walked to the castle we were acting ridiculous and laughing the whole time. I think the sugar and chocolate Welsh cakes were kicking in. We just kept looking for the castle! 

At the souvenir shop we just happened to run into the other three members of our group. After buying our Welsh memorabilia we headed back to the castle. 

We always seem to get really lucky on our trips because there just so happened to be a language festival going on at Cardiff Castle. 

Tents consumed the castle courtyard and Welsh singers took the stage giving a concert performance to the crowd. The energy and vibes were awesome. People were walking around, kids were playing hula-hoops and walking on stilts and all was surrounded by castle walls. It was pretty great!

By 5 p.m. we were heading back to the train station with tired feet, full memory cards and souvenirs. It was a great daytrip and Wales did not disappoint. Next weekend we are off to Scotland!
 


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    I'm Kasi Dickerson. Journalism is my passion. I'm a big family person, love to travel and I laugh all the time.

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