Day 24: POLICE STATE
It was about 7:15am when we awoke. We slept through our alarms knowing that we weren’t in any particular hurry to wake up early on this day. If anything, we were under the impression that the later we get to the Cardiff City Centre, the more likely the clean-up from the NATO processions from yesterday might be progressing along.
So we took our time having breakfast within the flat over tea and cookies (forgetting to buy eggs and toast on the first day to make it worthwhile since this is our last full day in the city), then it wasn’t until 9:35am when we were finally leaving to go downstairs into town.
Since we were looking to ride the bus towards the city center, we actually walked all the way to the familiar Cardiff Bay Bus Stop. Once there, we waited (not long) for a bus that showed up. It turned out that the 8 line showed up first, but that driver said we were better off going on the 6 bus (the so-called Baycar), which was said to get us to the city center faster.
We bought 2 adult day passes for a grand total of 7.2 pounds, which was equivalent to two one-way tickets so we had nothing to lose by buying the day pass. Tahia was able to get on for free.
And by 10:35am, we would eventually make it into Cardiff Castle after being dropped off near the city center, then walking a pretty charming pedestrian High Street until we were right in front of the castle itself.
At first we weren’t sure if the castle was open or not because it was surrounded by a forbidding fence that essentially split the road surrounding the castle. There were signs saying that the crossing was to our right so we followed it to the corner of Duke Street and Working Street. Once there, we passed through the opening in the fence and asked one of the police standing there if the castle was open.
He smiled and enthusiastically said “yes, it’s open. Go in and have a look. The views of the city are great!”
So with that, the police state setup that we witnessed was less unwelcome, and we promptly walked closer to the gates where more police were standing by. We took a few snaps of part of the clock tower from outside the castle walls before going through the gates, then going to the shop and museum on the right to purchase tickets.
After watching an eight-minute video essentially chronicling the history of the castle, we then walked within the spooky wartime tunnels before going up the steps and walking the battlements. From up there, we were able to look out towards various sections of the city as well as looking towards the castle green where we got some views of the Keep (reminding us of Clifford’s Tower in York) as well as the palace itself closer to the clock tower.
It wouldn’t be until about 11:25am when we headed down from the battlements then walked towards the palace, where we proceeded to check out the lavish insides. It was from within here that we spoke with some of the employees – first with the guy at the entrance who was going to look after my child carrier; second with the guy watching the fancy room that apparently the NATO dignitaries (including Barrak Obama and David Cameron among others) were having dinner last night.
I was under the impression that the employees seemed to like the unusual circumstances in which they were on watch at the castle. Instead of the typical day at the office, the first employee (the one we saw at the entrance) was chit chatting to me about how many secret service people were at the premise from three weeks prior looking for any security holes or gaps.
The second employee we chatted with at the big dinner room told us that they had to custom make a table to accommodate all the dignitaries who were quite packed within the grand room.
Anyways, after doing the short walking tour through each of the rooms, we then headed back outside, recovered my rucksack, then proceeded to cross the lawn and go up the steep steps to get up to the Keep. Once with the keep, which was mostly empty, we saw there were more steps going up towards the top of its facade.
We got additional views of the clock tower and palace from the various floors, including the top. At the top, we saw both the north view and the south view. Everything around it seemed to be dwarfed.
We spent plenty of time up here getting the views that we could though with the overcast skies, much of the subjects we photographed lacked color. So our photo run up here wasn’t as abundant as I’d imagine it could have been.
By the time we were done with the Keep, Tahia was getting tired. So that pretty much ended our castle tour, and we proceeded to walk back to High Street where we would once again lunch at a Pizza Express at 12:35pm. Unfortunately, they didn’t take the coupon on this day because it was a Friday (it was only honored from Sunday through Thursday).
Still, we had a pretty satisfying meal further reaffirming our feeling that this was the best pizza chain in the UK (where it even surpassed some of the more boutique Italian pizza places back in the States).
At 1:25pm, we left the Pizza Express then proceeded to walk towards the National Museum of Wales so Tahia could finally get to go in a museum, which she really looked forward to.
Since she was tired, we were all running out of gas already, but once we got in the museum, we had ourselves a pretty informative visit. Although the museum itself wasn’t nearly as impressive as the ones in Edinburgh nor Glasgow, it kept Tahia occupied. We also learned a bit about why we get Ice Ages from an astronomy point of view concerning how elliptical the earth’s orbit can be as well as its tilt, which periodically leans then straightens out on the order of every 40,000 years.
That seemed to explain a lot, and it was the first time I had ever heard of Ice Ages being explained this way. Simple enough. Though I’m sure the Global Warming deniers would try to use this bit of science to turn it into a political debate to keep trashing the planet.
Speaking of trashing the planet, I thought about how most of the dignitaries in NATO would talk the talk about trying to do something about Global Warming, but the very action to actually put a huge dent in it never appears since the very engine of the world’s economy are based on extractive industries and overconsumption. Plus, I had thought about how the world’s leaders were primarily consisting of people with the means (i.e. wealth or guns) to influence or coerce large numbers of people into doing something.
You could have the smartest guy with the best ideas at solving the world’s problems, but without the means to make it happen, he/she doesn’t get the credit nor does any of the ideas get acted upon. And typically those with the means tend to have gotten their wealth through the very things that destroy the planet or partake in the oppression of millions of other people whether directly or indirectly. I guess such is the catch-22 of why the world is what it is in terms of its long term health – those who are in position to make the changes necessary to keep the world going sustainably are the very same people who have benefitted from its very destruction.
Anyways, it was about 3:10pm when we left the museum. We then walked around the Alexandra Gardens, which was right behind the City Chambers, which had a pretty fancy building accompanied with a clock tower. It was a peaceful garden with some colorful flowers, but even the monuments within this garden were surrounded by fences in much the same manner that just about everything worth photographing was surrounded by hideous fences as well.
When we were done with the tour of the gardens, we then slowly trudged our way back to the bus stop near where we had gotten off earlier in the morning.
Tahia was out cold for her afternoon nap so I had to carry her both through the gardens then out through the city. When we finally caught the bus to go back to Cardiff Bay, she woke up just in time for us to be walking towards the amusement fair within the happening part of Cardiff Bay.
At 5pm, we were in the amusement area where Tahia was eager to ride the merry-go-round. Although it wasn’t cheap (2×2 pounds since Tahia couldn’t ride by herself), we indulged her. And when the merry-go-round was over and we walked around to see what other attractions that might interest our little girl, we finally decided to do this huge spiral slide for a thrill ride.
Once again, it was 2×2 pounds and this time I did the ride with Tahia.
And when that was over, she wanted to do more, but the costs were adding up. Just to do these two rides, we probably spent on the order of $15 USD. That was enough.
Now, it was time for dinner, and although Julie initially had her heart set on Spanish tapas, we noticed this ramen place called Wagamama, and we ended up eating there for a quick dinner at 5:30pm. The ramen was ok, though the overall price was probably double that of what we would normally pay for at say Hakata Ramen (Shin-sen-gumi).
At 6:50pm, we had walked from Cardiff Bay back to our flat (apartment), and we would call it a day just to unwind and get our stuff together so we could make an early departure for Cornwall tomorrow.
No users have replied to the content on this page