Thanks to a new Atlantic College school calendar, the entire school received a well desired 1 week break between the 23 and 31 of October. Most people decided to go on holiday, the Europeans went home and some people stayed with Brits and Europeans. A lucky 40 or so people however, choose to stay at the school and spend the week living in St. Donat’s castle; including me. I stayed in a guest-room in one of the many castle towers. As you may have read, the place was infested with flies.
In part 1, I talked about my work, going climbing and going caving. In part 2, I talked about the AC open day 2010 and Jonathan’s showering.
Photo Gallery below
For the last weekend of the half-term, I allowed myself to escape to Cardiff to stay with my roommate Ollie. For me, it meant two days without work, rest and relaxation. I took the bus on my own from Llantwit to Cardiff and then set out for a day of wandering. It was the first time I had been in Cardiff, and only the second place I’d been two, the first being Llantwit Major. As such, a lot of it was new, although there were fleeting reminders to last March when I was in Reading and London for the World Individuals Debating and Public Speaking Championships 2009.
Armed with my map, I began to walk along ‘The Hayes’, a commercial pedestrian street in the center of Cardiff. I had initially planed to walk to the Tourist Information Center first, but having already obtained a map, I decided to skip the hassle of backtracking and just went sightseeing first before I passed by the Tourist Information Center. The first major landmark I saw was the Marriott in Cardiff, almost instantaneously bringing back memories of living in the Marriott in Doha, Qatar while attending WSDC 2010.
However, the first stop for me was Cardiff Library. Cardiff NEW library. What I would presume a relatively modern building, it looked quite good, although the escalators were quite sneaky. Having looked at the directory, I thought of going to the first floor, only to realise after I had gotten off the escalator that it actually had taken me to the second floor because the only way to access the first floor was by walking up stairs. The second floor housed newspapers as well as books from different languages. There were a lot of Welsh books, as well as a surprisingly big collection of Chinese books. Sadly, I wasn’t able to read any of them.
Most likely because it was recently refurbished, the library contained some really cool chairs. I’ve included the photos since I can’t find words to exactly describe them. I caught sight of a massive collection of DVDs and movies and promptly decided I could spend the entire day here if I wanted to. But, I made up my mind to see other parts of Cardiff, until I realized that there was free wi-fi at Cardiff New Library. So I set myself up and opened my laptop. Sadly, the internet didn’t seem to like me and I wasn’t able to get on. Resigned, I packed up after the initial euphoria and returned on my tour.
Walking up The Hayes, I saw almost nothing but high-end fashion or jewellery stores. There were of course the traditional Starbucks (2 in a very short space of time) as well as Waterstones (which I wanted to, but didn’t go in knowing I’d never get out). I finally arrived at the Tourist Information Center were I picked up a proper map of the city and then proceeded to walk along the ‘Millenium Walk’, following cool embossed markers along the ground.
This trail led me to the Millennium stadium, along Queen Street, the main commercial pedestrian lane, and up north towards the Civic Center. I passed the City Hall, Law Courts and saw the outside of a lot of Cardiff University buildings. Sadly, especially on a national holiday, they didn’t seem too inviting, and I choose not to linger too long. I passed by the Temple of Peace which houses the organizers of the Welsh Debating Team. There was also the National Assembly Building of the Welsh Assembly Government, again for the purpose of time, I decided not to test my luck and try to enter. I did however go into the Cardiff University Law School, although it didn’t seem particularly stunning. I suspect living and studying in a castle makes most concrete buildings pale in comparison.
Before I went to the National Museum Cardiff, I had a soothing call home, it was quite fun to be able to talk to them again, despite being in the middle of Cardiff. The National Museum Cardiff was rather small but highly educational. Although I didn’t feel it was quite focused enough upon the history of Wales and how it has changed. Certainly, there were a lot of displays on this, but I didn’t feel like I could confidently say I knew what Wales was and is like.
On my walk around, I noticed a lot of war memorials for all sorts of wars. Whether WW1, WW2, Boer War, Falkan Wars, there was always at least 1 war memorial somewhere in the city to commemorate those who died fighting. Not being involved myself, I cannot say whether this is a sensible arrangement or not. But the fact that so many war memorials exist shows that Cardiff and Wales takes its fallen soldiers quite seriously.
After touring most of Cardiff City Center, I set of on a rather lengthy walk to Cardiff Bay. I had original planned to skip Cardiff Bay altogether only to reconsider and decide to visit just a few days before setting off. However, while walking around, I had decided that there simply wasn’t enough time and ought to skip Cardiff Bay. So despite having seen a lot of Cardiff City Center, there’s still unfinished business for next time I visit Cardiff.