Back to the memories of my first trip around Europe in 2014.
After four days in Scotland, it was time to travel to the second country on the list, Wales – the magic land of castles.
My first idea was to visit the north of Wales because I wanted to see the amazing Conwy Castle (have a look at the pictures and you’ll understand why I wished to go there so desperately).
However, it’d be way complicated to get there from Glasgow, where I was previously, so painfully I travelled directly to Cardiff. I’d decided to set foot in all the capitals, so I stick to my original “plan”. I thought that I could visit Conwy along with Manchester later, what turned out to be impossible eventually. Ok, next time.
From Glasgow, I headed for Cardiff on a night bus. As I wrote before, it was freezing in the Scottish city, so I was expecting the arrival of the bus very much.
The bus station was quite empty, and the only two guys I talked to were from somewhere in Eastern Europe, Serbia or Croatia. The backpackers were travelling around with a budget that I guess was smaller than mine. They were stopping at each city, where they spent only one day. They musicians seemed sort of gypsy and gave me their contact because we’d be in London at the same time. I wouldn’t call them at all as they looked somehow creepy, so just I smiled. Meeting odd people is part of the craic.
About the bus again: I wanted the bus to come quickly because of the cold, even though I was a bit upset with the idea of spending the whole night travelling on a seat. That’s bad. I mean, it’s good cause you’re travelling and crossing borders, but it’s bad because fucking hell it’s not my bed.
When the bus came, a lot of people came in and I went to look for my miserable place. A company’s man guided me upstairs, and I couldn’t believe my eyes: there were BEDS on that bus. BEDS. That meant that I’d lie during the night, instead of making that sort of contortionism finding a way to sleep.
A nice girl lied on my left in order to avoid the awkward situation to have a guy beside me but, honestly, I was so exultant with the idea of having a BED for me during the journey to Cardiff that I’d give a fuck. The devil could be there. I just wanted to have some rest.
It was a bit strange to sleep that way, I mean, lying down on a “bed” because you can feel the road “below you” in a certain way, but better than nothing.
We arrived in Wales earlier than expected (British timetable), and it was still dark. Everyone got off, and I didn’t have a clue about how to get to my hostel. A few people remained on the bus stop. I asked for some help to reach at least the city centre, from which my hostel would be near. A guy from Sudan (or another African country, I really can’t remember) said he was going to the centre in order to get a bus, so I followed him.
He was nice, and we sat on a seat to chat a little while we waited for the sun. It was cold, but at that moment I was somehow used to the weather. He told me he visited Ireland and Northern Ireland – in the last, he didn’t have a nice experience, unfortunately, where he could experience racism.
When the sun appeared, he said he’d help me to find my hostel. That’s fine. I could do that on my own, but I didn’t refuse the offer. He said he knew the place quite well as he has lived there for a while, but eventually, we got lost. I tried to get information but it didn’t work. To make matters worse, Cardiff has the worst sign system ever – don’t ask me why because I can’t explain that – and I did miss a map or at least internet on my mobile phone.
The guy offered me his house twice, and at the second time I rebuffed his purpose quite harshly. I didn’t want his house, I wanted the fucking hostel I already booked. I wouldn’t go to the place of a completely strange person, especially a man. I think he wasn’t a bad man, he just wanted to be nice and protective (what I hate it).
At the end of the day, I could find the hostel. It was a common one, the staff members a bit rude, but I wouldn’t live there forever anyway. I just left my backpack in the luggage room and went to explore the city. We were close to the centre, but there were lots of “curves” on the way to the hostel. I got lost twice more – even with a map.
I went to have breakfast in the centre and I went for a stroll. The place was different and I felt gorgeous for being in Wales, where you can see some kind of aristocracy all over the place. I loathe nobility and stuff related to it, but in Britain, these things just seem great. Mysteries.
I visited a tourism centre to grab a map and get some tips about the place. From there, I headed for Cardiff Bay by bus. The spot is great, simple and quite at the same time. Exactly what I wanted at that time, a nice place to lay around.
Back to the hostel, I met my “roommates”, two funny and extrovert guys from Australia. We spent dinner time having a chinwag, but I confess that their accent was a hard one go understand. I lost lots of information that I hope weren’t important.
The next day I went to visit two castles ❤ with one of the guys. I’m an awful person because I don’t remember his name.
The first castle was Coch. A nice one, but I told the guy I wasn’t that impressed. He thought I was a bit snobbish, and I think I might be that.
It was raining slightly, but it didn’t affect my mood at all.
We had lunch in a picturesque pub in a village and, from there we took a bus to Caerphilly.
Oh my God. Then I was impressed. I didn’t go to see the castles in the north, but that wonderful building was in front of me. The Australian guy was staring at me as if I was crazy because I was jumping and taking selfies out of control. I don’t blame him. Such an unbelievable place.
There’s a nice animation that explains some facts about the castle and its history, one of the most interesting short films I’ve seen so far.
On the third day, I went to visit an open museum which reproduces the old way of life in Wales. Actually, it’s a farm with some replicas of houses and structures used in farming. It’s a fascinating spot – even with crazy students running around.
I took a bus to go back to the city and it was pretty nice because there were some old sirs and ladies on it. A countryside atmosphere.
In the afternoon, I strolled around the centre again. Nice place definitely. I was about to visit busier cities after that, so it was great to be in a spot not packed with tourists.
I particularly loved this market, where I could buy some sweets and local food.
In the afternoon, I went to visit Cardiff castle. The rain was quite annoying but bearable. The story of the castle is amazing.
Among their several functions along the time, it was used as a shelter for the Welsh population during the First World War. As you walk along its corridors, you listen to a Piaf’s song that takes you back to that time. There are old objects too that might have belonged to those fellows. Quite gruesome.
I strongly recommend Cardiff if people want a relaxing place. I guess there are a few medium cities in the United Kingdom where you can be around local people. Just one of those great castles I’ve seen it’s worth a visit 🙂
Next stop, London, the magic and shinning capital of the world.