Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cardiff, Wales

Hello from Poland!  I'm still marching along on my Eurotrip journey, typing up posts whenever I get time!  Here's another blast from the past post about my quick weekend excursion to Cardiff the second weekend in March.

My weekend in Cardiff, Wales was another one of those trips that USC paid for.  The train ride from London was only about 2.5 hours so it wasn’t too hard to get there.  Now, in case you’re not familiar with Cardiff, it is the capital of Wales and a party city.  I had no idea that the Welsh people loved to party so much until our Resident Director sent us this ( link.  Please, check it out, see for yourself the carnage left behind from Welsh parties.  Fair warning though, it is rather inappropriate at times.  Needless to say, this was a perfect place to take a group of twenty college students. 

We didn’t arrive too early on our first day, so we didn’t have time to do anything other than dinner.  Dinner was delicious and included plenty of drinks and of course we hit the pub afterwards.  The next morning we went to the Museum of Cardiff for a guided tour which was actually really informative.  I didn’t know anything about Welsh history so I quite enjoyed that bit. 

For our second day, we had tickets to go to the Wales vs. Italy rugby game.  The whole city was going crazy with excitement for this game because if Wales won that would put them in the finals of the six nations tournament.  Before the game, we walked around the city center and saw some of the festivities like this guy playing a violin while tight rope walking. 

We didn’t want to be the only people in the stadium without some rugby merchandise, so we stopped by a street vendor to pick up some scarves and a dragon hat.  The dragon is the national symbol of Wales.

A few of us USC kids also got our faces painted.

Here we are going into the stadium.  The stadium was way larger than I expected and very modern.

Here’s the start of the game.

So, I don’t really understand the rules of rugby, and after watching a game, I can’t say that I understand any better.  All I know is that they don’t wear any padding and that people have died in rugby games from smashing their heads together.  I think this next picture is a scrum, basically the ball is somewhere in the middle and the men just push and shove each other until they start heading in one direction.  It’s kind of like tug of war but with your head. 

Wales ended up winning the game, so of course everyone was going out to celebrate that night.  In true Cardiff style, we had to experience the local night life.  I am proud to say that the scenes we witnessed we eerily similar to the photos on display in that link earlier in this post.  (If you didn’t click on it earlier, now is the time to scroll up and click on it.  It’s worth it, I promise.)

Here are a few people posing with a cop.  The cops were so friendly and good-natured!

Most of the nightlife pictures I tried to take ended up blurry, dark, or otherwise not good, so I’ll let the link speak for itself.  Here’s just one photo to give you a taste.

Going out in Cardiff ended up being one of the most fun nights of clubbing since I’ve been abroad.  Everyone was so friendly and quite a few people loved my American accent which is cool because most of the time I’m bending over backwards trying to hide the fact that I’m American.  We spent the night dancing, laughing, celebrating, and generally merry-making.  We walked back to the hostel in high spirits.  

The next morning I went to explore Cardiff Castle before heading back to London.  From the outside, the castle didn’t look that big but once I got inside the castle walls I was so impressed by the scale of it all.  I felt like I was actually walking into a page out of the book “A Game of Thrones,” the epic fantasy novel turned HBO series that I’ve been reading obsessively lately. 

From the outside:

The outer walls of the castle were completely rebuilt in the Roman defensive style so that you can actually walk in tunnels inside the walls and shoot arrows out the windows in addition to having people standing on top of the walls shooting down.  This particular aspect of the rebuild is controversial because only the largest, most important Roman forts would have tunnels inside the walls.  So, the likelihood of a small castle in Wales having this style of walls is pretty slim but apparently the person who rebuilt the castle walls didn’t know that.  Still, it was cool for me.

Inside the walls it was mostly just a large yard with an inner keep surrounded by a moat.

The walls were pretty massive with mounds of dirt built up on the inner side so that people could stand on the inside. 

Just the gates are at least 12 feet tall.

Check out the inner keep.

And for scale, look at how small I am compared to the keep.

The inner keep hasn’t been rebuilt like the walls, so you have to use a bit of imagination to think about what life would have been like in the Middle Ages.  You can walk inside, but none of the inner structure or the roof of the keep remain.  So now it’s basically just a thick, stone cylinder.  And I mean those walls are really thick.

It is believed that there used to be a chimney that formed a sort of half circle on the inside of the keep.  All that’s left is some crumbling stones sticking out from the wall.

Here you can see the remnants of the stairs that would let people reach the upper floors.

From the top of the keep, you can see all of Cardiff, which was pretty cool.

After exploring the keep, I swung by the quarters where the noble family who owned the castle used to live.  From the outside, it kind of looked like a church.

The inside was gorgeously decorated.  We weren’t allowed to enter all the rooms but from what we could see they definitely lived a lavish lifestyle. 

Overall, I was impressed with Cardiff.  It seems like a very fun city and the people are all very open and friendly!  Overall it was another successful weekend with USC!

1 comment:

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