Yes, that in indeed what I meant to type. It’s Welsh for ‘Welcome to Cardiff’ which is where I am currently sitting and writing this entry. Most official signs (stations, roads, directions) are dual language in Wales. Can’t say that I understand it, but, it does make my name feel right at home.
We got in yesterday on a train from London and were met at the station by our first CouchSurf host, Huw. In a strange event of timing, just three weeks ago he hosted one of the French ladies that we traveled with in Bali back in June. We marveled at our small world and walked together to Huw’s place. We passed the Millennium Stadium on the way, which is ENORMOUS. After a short walk through some quaint neighborhoods, we arrived at our home for the next few nights. Huw’s place feels a lot like Sirius Black’s house (Harry Potter reference) as it’s a narrow row house with ‘classic’ wallpaper and that crunched Order of the Phoenix feel. We were welcomed by his fellow house mates and felt like family at once.
Huw headed to work not long after we arrived (he works at a local hostel) and we set out for dinner. At Huw’s suggestion, we ate at a restaurant called ‘Prince of Wales’ near the central train station that was out of this world! Not only was it inexpensive, but it was in an old converted theatre. The atmosphere and food were top notch. Afterwards, since the drizzle had stopped, we thought we’d walk to Cardiff Bay and look around. It didn’t look that far on the map we’d glanced at earlier.
Forty-five minutes later, we walk into Roald Dahl Plass, the square that is home to the Millennium Centre (not Stadium), Mermaid Quay restaurant district, and the water tower that Torchwood fans would instantly recognize. It is a beautiful area and the bay is gorgeous. In a surprise moment of directional clarity, Indi beelined for the part of the boardwalk that is used as the entrance to Torchwood 3, the headquarters in the UK television show. What we found was unexpected. In the last mini-series aired in mid-2009, one of the characters died in a dramatic fashion. The people that run the Mermaid Quay district erected an impromptu ‘Memorial Fence’ for this beloved character and there are pictures, letters, drawings, and all manner of emotional outpouring attached. It was really quite touching.
Today we decided to head back down to the Bay area (regardless of the cold rain) to check out the Doctor Who Exhibition, which is permanently set up inside a small mall near Roald Dahl Plass. The pictures do more justice than an explanation (here); suffice to say we both geeked out over the vast amount of props, sound effects, and costumes on display. The people that run the gift shop were also eager to talk to us about the show and various items they had. It was a big success. After we’d spent a considerable time there, we relaxed at a small bar/restaurant on Mermaid Quay before taking the train back to town center.
Now is a time for some hot tea and warm blankets while our clothes dry on radiators and inside the first actual clothes dryer I’ve seen since…well, America. I hope we get some good sunny days for our additional exploration of this wonderful city!