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Wales

In These Stones Horizons Sing

Two half-days in Cardiff

sunny

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We spent an afternoon and morning in Cardiff, with a day trip to St. David’s in between. The weather was spectacular the entire time - sunny and in the 70s Fahrenheit.

Our planned itinerary for Wednesday afternoon in Cardiff included Cardiff Castle and city center. As it turned out, we were much too tired to go far beyond the immediate neighborhood of our hotel, voco St. David. The nearby area is called Mermaid Quay, with the Roald Dahl Plass and Millenium Centre in the same area.

From the hotel we walked along the piers and came to The Dock restaurant, which is owned by Brains Brewery (I don’t know why they odd name). We had not eaten since the plane and we were starving. We tried the Brains Black beer, a stout that was merely OK to me - smooth but no distinctive flavor. Lunch was good, though. I had small plates: halloumi fries (these are on a lot of menus), bruschetta, and crab cakes. My husband had fish and chips, which were a revelation. The batter was really crispy and the fish was delicious.

Then we walked through Roald Dahl Plass and stared at the gold-faced Millenium Centre with the saying, in Welsh and English, “In these stones horizons sing.”

We stopped in at the Portmeirion gift shop at the Millenium Centre. We had already decided not to buy too many souvenirs for lack of luggage space to bring them back. But my husband (whose ancestry is Welsh) couldn’t resist a coffee cup with a Welsh dragon, and I had to get some Welsh sea salt. There was a good selection of Roald Dahl items, some seaweed condiments, soaps, and jewelry. I enjoyed just looking around.

On the way back to the hotel, we met an amazing aroma that drew us into Fabulous Welshcakes. I’d never had one - it is a shortbread type cookie with raisin in the traditional type and other additions (this day it was hazelnut). They were so good - buttery and delicious. We went back the morning before we left town and bought 2 boxes for later!

I went for a nice walk in a wetland reserve in the area.

Before we left Cardiff on Friday, we walked through Mermaid Quay again and bought our boxes of Welsh cakes. Then it was a taxi to the train station and off to the next stage of our adventure.

We never did get to the castle. Maybe next time!

Posted by TravelingWriter 13:29 Archived in Wales Comments (1)

Planes, trains, and automobiles

Atlanta to Manchester to Cardiff

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The adventure began around 8 a.m. Tuesday, when we took a shuttle van from Birmingham to the Atlanta Airport. (Groome Transportation highly recommended.)

We got to the airport MUCH too early, and had to cool our heels several hours until the Virgin Atlantic check-in counter opened. Check-in went easily but then we were stopped at security because my husband’s ticket didn’t show TSA pre-check (we had printed the boarding passes earlier). Back to the counter, and got real boarding passes printed that had that essential information.

The pre-check got us in the shorter line, but it wasn’t as well-organized as it should have been in my opinion. There was a sign that you didn’t have to take off your belt or empty your pockets, but it was almost at the metal detector, rather that at the entrance where people would have seen it BEFORE they took off their belts! We spent a couple of hours in the Delta Sky Club relaxing and then boarded at 5 for our 6 p.m. takeoff.

We decided when we started planning this trip that we were going first class, and had upper class tickets on Virgin Atlantic. It was a mixed experience. The seats were not very comfortable - much too hard - although the footrest was nice. They converted to a lie-flat bed that was extraordinarily uncomfortable because it was so hard (they did lay down a thin pad but it was useless). The dinner menu had some interesting selections, but my choice (butternut squash) was meh. It also turned out to be a bad idea to eat and then try to lie down and sleep (my husband wisely had just soup).

So, for the plane portion of the trip, not quite a first-class experience, and no sleep, but probably still better than coach!

We flew into Manchester, which our travel planner had recommended because it was a nonstop flight from Atlanta. We arrived at 7 a.m. local time (which of course felt like the middle of the night to our U.S. Central Time bodies). We took a taxi from the airport to the train station, then got on a train to Cardiff. The train ride was about two hours, and we spent the first half of the I journey talking with our seat mates. The scenery got less urban and more pastoral as we went further south. There were sheep, lots of sheep, and seagulls hanging out with cattle. Cathedrals in the distance, and just-cut hayfields that were the only brown in an otherwise green place. There was a snack cart on the train; I had coffee but sadly there were no chocolate frogs.

Arriving in Cardiff, we easily exited the station and caught a cab to our hotel. Even though we had not really slept, we decided to stay awake and explore Cardiff (on foot, as the last mode of transportation experienced that day!)

Posted by TravelingWriter 05:58 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

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