Tea with a princess… Jousts by the Castle… Chivalry and valiance… This is what a true vacation is made of. The real task at hand was how to squeeze it all into one afternoon. It all started at 7 am when I jumped out of bed from the suite that I booked in the Hotel Russell. This place is like a giant castle spanning the whole entire city block on all four sides. I took a two hour ride on the BritRail to Cardiff – the capital of Wales. The city seemed to have been made of stone, similar to the rocks that would have made a castle. I spent the whole day wandering around Cardiff throughout many shops & stores, a Royal Castle, and the many interesting side streets.
The shopping was actually very good, although I had not imagined Wales to be fashionable. There were plenty of shops that carried exactly what I was looking for. I wanted something casual, but classy. Something was trendy, but not outrageous. I found my favorite Edwin jeans that are made in Japan. They seemed to have been for the Welsh because the legs were long. I imagine some tall blonde wearing a pair of Japanese jeans. I roll up the cuffs and they look great! The sales associate was really cool. He started to ask where I was from, why I was there, and what I was doing that night. I think he could have made a nice friend had I been in Wales for more than an afternoon. I think this is the coolest experience I have had on vacation – to spark conversation with locals in a clothing store. This year I plan on living in London, so I will have the opportunity to go back to the Welsh countryside.
I was unclear what to expect when I thought of Welch food. I stopped into a restaurant that looked pretty modern and cool. I ordered a pot of tea while I had a look at the menu. I noticed the gigantic brick pizza oven before the menu arrived. It sold me a personal pie as I wondered what pizza tasted like in Wales. I learned a lot about pizza while traveling through many cities, especially European ones. The crust was like the inside of soft French bread. I had this same experience elsewhere, enjoying it so much that I bought the cookbook. I love a crisp pizza, but every once in a while a nice friendly texture is something to be desired. Crisp pizza crust is delicious but it is hard on your stomach. This bread was light and airy with only moderate amounts of sauce and cheese. It was a delicious lunch.
The last stop was Cardiff Castle. If I hadn’t been so hungry I would have been on time for the joust. I just caught the end of a school performance behind castle walls. After paying my admission, I noticed two kids on horseback that were carrying jousting lances and wearing traditional armor. The two were at a duel until one fell of the horse. I saw many people dressed in medieval clothing. There were peasants, bishops and others whose position I could not determine. The courtyard was crowded to the max, with fires burning and action going on everywhere. It was like a Hollywood set but no director, or video cameras. The only cameras were on the tourists that were walking around. I took many great photos, and even got some video of the joust.
After the castle, the many stairs to the tower, and the trek to Wales, it was time to get back to London. I headed toward the train station but got sidetracked to walk around the streets as there was a small bazaar. There were outdoor shops and some merchants exhibiting their stuff. I took a last minute look around before deciding on leaving. I hopped back on the train and went to London. If it hadn’t been so late I would have gone to Dyffryn Gardens but that seemed to be a whole day in itself as the property spans 55 acres and was six miles from Wales.
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