Right, so another brilliant day – honestly, Wales is running neck and neck with Iceland for my favourite destination.
Full day today – started off by going to Caerphilly Castle, about 20min north of Cardiff. (I do love their transit system here – it’s crazy easy to get everywhere) The castle is over 700 years old and is one of the best restored ones I’ve seen... and it’s huge!! The castle is surrounded by a moat, so I walked around the edge of that first and then into the castle itself. One of the towers has becoming a “leaning tower” so to speak – it looks quite sharp. Other than that, it was just nice to walk around the different empty rooms and climb up the tower for a nice view of the land. They also had an exhibit that described the restoration it underwent – it was interesting to see the background.
Only downside? There were some 10000 pigeons lol – had to be very careful where you walked in some places... so much crap.
I puttered around the city centre after that – got to talking with a couple shopkeepers who noted “you’re not from around here” lol. We bonded over the fact the pence/penny serves no use – I was like Canada’s one up for once... soon it will be gone! They asked if I was sticking around for the Torch Relay; we got to talking about the Olympics and what it was like in Canada for the last ones. But the majority of the convo was related to weather haha – the Welsh do enjoy talking about their weather. They just rambled on about the sunshine and how rare it is – I must admit I’ve been oddly lucky to not have a drop of rain so far.
Key words: so far haha.
After that I headed back to Cardiff; I had an hour to kill, so I just puttered around the City Centre area, walking by all the cafes and such. I also happened upon the Market, so I had fun walking through there and seeing all the goodies including about 10 pig heads and parts of the animal I didn’t even know existed lol. All good prep for haggis on my next trip I suppose 😉
Back on the street some guy came up to me; he had a clipboard so I knew he was doing a survey or something money related, but whatever, he was nice so I let him start to chat. After a minute or two he sighed though, “I detect an accent which is good news for you, but not so much for me!” (He was raising money for some child abuse thing, but the goal was to get people to donate through their UK bank accounts.) I wished him good luck anyway and he started to joke about enjoying the weather – ah, the sunny weather.
I bussed out to St. Fagan’s for the Welsh Life Museum – it’s pretty much Upper Canada Village minus the costumes, and except, you know, Wales has history dating a weeeeee bit further 😉 It was great though! I found myself really thinking of my grandparents; my grandpa in particular used to love hearing about this stuff and seeing it... he would have loved this.
There really was a range of dates covered too which was fascinating to see the sort of evolution Wales has gone through. They had this remarkable little church too that had the coolest murals in it – very bright colours and almost cartoon-like.
Of course, I got to talking with a bunch of the staff in the different houses – all the convos pretty much went the same – they noted I wasn’t “from around here”, we talked about Canada and why I chose here, and they went on and on about the weather haha. Apparently back in February they had a heat-spell of sorts, then it went back to being cold, damp and dreary and only over the past few weeks or so has it cleared up. Perfect timing for me!
In particular though, I had a great talk with one gentleman in the farmhouse – we spoke for at least 20minutes haha. He was a sweetheart. Of course, the convo started re: the weather... the sun, the heat, the fact this is so un-UK-like haha. He then asked where I’m from and we got to talking about Canada – he flies to Toronto relatively often to connect through to BC to visit family, so we chatted about that too. We started comparing the two countries – idk, I find the people pretty similar, although I think their city-folk are nicer than ours haha. Even Cardiff feels like a big friendly town rather than a city. It's so charming.
We talked about multiculturalism, patriotism, history (ie. Canada has none lol, that’s why I love visiting Europe) and all that jazz. He did note that we’re the only country that can claim to burning down the White House 😉 Indeed.
This somehow led into a talk about transportation - I marvelled how easy it is to get around here in the UK... compared to how we have like no trains and transportation is basically an expensive mess back home. He noted that you couldn’t really compare because of the size difference (“You could drop Wales into Lake Superior and lose it!”). I gave him that one. He then had a great quote that I quite liked: “Here, 100 miles is a long trip, and 100 years is yesterday. For you in Canada, 100 miles is nothing and 100 years is half your history.” True. Very true.
And that was that – back to Cardiff I went. The Torch Relay was going through town this evening which worked out perfectly because it was only a block away from the hostel. I couldn’t resist, so I joined the crowd and pretended to be Welsh for an hour or so :P. It was fun, although I liked our tracksuits better in 2010... perhaps that’s just my biais showing though 😉
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