“New teeth. That’s weird. So where was I? Oh, that’s right: Barcelona!” – David Tennant as The Tenth Doctor
For my boyfriend’s 19th birthday, I organised a trip to Cardiff for the Easter break (as close to his actual birthday as I could get it without disturbing uni!). I booked the hotel and train tickets in advance, and just came up with a flexible itinerary for the time whilst we were there, so we could pick and choose what we wanted to do dependent on mood and/or weather.
We took the train from Ludlow to Cardiff Central – this trip only took about 1 hour and a half and was a direct train, nice and simple! Our train was at 9:45 and we arrived around 11:15 and the tickets only cost about £33 with two 16-25 railcards. As soon as we got there, we hopped off the train and headed straight for Cardiff Bay. Now, there are several ways to get there: you can stay on the train until you reach the Cardiff Bay train station, you can grab a taxi outside of Cardiff Central, or you can do what we did – walk. It took us probably half an hour (and this was only because we had no idea where we were going so followed Google maps!) but it is all signposted well and is a fairly direct route.
At Cardiff Bay there are plenty of restaurants and well-known franchises if you fancy a drink or a bite to eat! We had actually packed a picnic for our lunch – optimistic for good weather, I know! We sat on the steps outside of the Millennium Centre enjoying our sandwiches and juice cartons before having a wander over in the director of the Doctor Who Experience. This was buzzing with geeks, families and all sorts of other visitors. As soon as you walk in there is a whole array of memorabilia on display – before you’ve even bought a ticket!
Before we queued at the box office, we spotted a squished penny machine – you know the ones, you put in 1p and £1, turn the wheel and out pops a souvenir penny of your choice! We seem to accumulate these every time we visit a new place – not that I’m complaining! We then bought our tickets for the 12pm entrance – they were £32 for the two of us, so £16 for an adult ticket. We had about a half an hour wait, but we didn’t mind, we just had a sit down in the foyer until about 11:50, when we queued up outside the Gallifrey Museum. When you enter the museum, you embark on a mission with the Doctor and your tour guide – no spoilers, you’ll have to visit for yourself! – in order the save the Tardis and the galaxy! After this, there is also a chance to see lots of props and costumes from the show, on display; my favourite doctor was David Tennant, so it’s nice to see some of the older friends and foes there too!
We also had a quick browse around the gift shop before we left – this is actually open to the public whether or not you visit the museum – and I picked up a poster, along with some postcards for my scrapbook. After being complete nerds for a couple of hours, we went in search of our hotel. We stayed in Premier Inn Cardiff City Central, and I’m so glad we did – it was only £48 for the night for a double room. After booking, it appeared on the map like we were quite far out of the centre with this hotel, but that wasn’t the case at all! We were only 5 minutes (if that) from St David’s Dewi Sant shopping centre and the Motorpoint Arena.
After a rest and refresh at the hotel, we headed out for dinner. We had decided to go to Jamie’s Italian, as it was somewhere different and I’ve only ever heard good reviews. Luke chose the special Seafood Linguine and I opted for Pork Belly – they were both amazing, as you can see by his smiling face in the photo! We even went for dessert – a tiramisu and a salted caramel chocolate brownie; I couldn’t fault the meal or the service. I even got £10 off with the restaurant’s app – bargain. After this, instead of heading out on the town (I’m not one for clubbing) we went back to the hotel to sleep after a long day of travelling and being busy.
The next day, we had a lovely lie in (about 8:30am!) before choosing to have the buffet breakfast in the Premier Inn we were staying in. This was lovely and filling, it set us up perfectly for the day ahead. We then went to Treetop Adventure Golf inside the St David’s shopping centre, to tee off before 12pm to get 2 mini golf courses for the price of 1. For only £11 for the two of us with student cards, you can’t complain! I can’t say I was particularly skilled at this, as I lost – but, just for the record, I got the only hole-in-one of both courses!!!
As we were in the centre, we then went for a walk around the shops. Obviously, our first calls were the Lego and Disney stores – we’re big kids too remember. We even managed to pick up a Happy Disney plush and a Han Solo Pop Vinyl. After some retail therapy we embraced the cold wind and started walking towards Cardiff Castle – we decided against a castle visit, as the weather was unpredictable and we weren’t 100% for the idea. However, I would definitely like to visit the inside of the Castle and do the House Tour on a summer’s day.
Whilst the weather held out, we had a wander around the natural beauty of Bute Park (pardon the pun) and sat on a bench to have a drink and a snack. It was Good Friday, and so a lot of people were outside enjoying a dog walk or family time, which was nice to witness too. As it started threatening to rain, we sought shelter in the National Museum of Cardiff, and had a stroll around their underwater and insect exhibits – these were so interesting to see, and it’s free entry too, so definitely worth a look!
We started getting quite peckish at this point, and as we were walking back towards the town centre, we spotted Slug and Lettuce. This is a lovely chain restaurant which offers amazing two for one cocktails ALL DAY, EVERYDAY! For lunch, Luke had the smothered chicken burger and I had a chicken burrito – it was amazing, so spicy and I swear it was almost as big as my head! To kill time, we stayed for a few drinks – from strawberry and lime cider all the way to Easter Egg Martini’s that were more like desserts than drinks! I’m gutted these aren’t on the menu all year round.
So, as you can see by the length of this post and the photos, there is plenty to do in Cardiff, a lot of which I had the pleasure to experience. We caught the train back Friday evening, and it’s safe to say that after a busy couple of days, I was thoroughly exhausted. But it was all worth it!
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