Introduction to Cardiff

My introduction to Cardiff was champagne and party hats. As I entered the dorm of the Youth Hostel, four young women celebrating a birthday greeted me. They had escaped from London to enjoy a girls’ weekend away and Cardiff was the ideal place. For me, Cardiff was R&R after four weeks sleeping in a one-person tent and heavy work on an archaeological site in south west Wales.
Cardiff Central is a mixture of the new and old. The still new, and impressive Millennium Stadium straddles the river side of Cardiff and is clearly the pride and joy of the locals. Talk to anyone in the city, and they will suggest you take a tour of the Stadium. Cardiff Castle dominates the northern end of the shops and a tour of the interior is well worth the £6 for entry to the Castle and the tour. The small Museum of the Welsh Regiment is within the Castle grounds. I found the history and the photos of the regiment’s mascot, the goat (often a Kashmir goat), featured in parades and on the battlefields, very interesting. Also the fact that the “Goat Major’ was responsible for taking care of the mascot.
The Bay Express Bus No 6, which leaves Cardiff Central every ten minutes during the day, takes you to Cardiff Bay, a relaxing, fun environment, although somewhat touristy. A smaller version of Sydney’s Darling Harbour, you can visit the new National Assembly for free and enjoy lunch in one of the many outdoor cafés.
St Fagan’s, an 18 minute bus journey away, is the Museum of Welsh Life. Plan a whole day for this and wear comfortable shoes to inspect the thirty or so re-constructed cottages and buildings that sit on 40 hectares of land. You enter the18th century.
My favourite day started at the seaside resort of Penarth. Only 20 minutes by bus from Central, the main feature of this sleepy town is the long, wide, Victorian Pier. I walked along the pebbled beach, then climbed up the road to a track that hugged the coastline through dense foliage, ending abruptly at a caravan park. Following the lane veering inland, I felt the vagabond, luxuriating in the freedom of space, and the sights and smells of the countryside. The July sun warmed my back. No map, and no idea what lay ahead, until the sound of traffic heralded the highway. Tourist signs pointed to a lake and nature reserve, and a medieval village nearby. My mini-adventure was over, but the memories of Cardiff will forever remain.

Introduction to Cardiff

Amy Hing-Young

Coogee, Sydney, Australia

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