Wales and the Red Dragon
I have continued my journey around the UK, this time to Wales. I started my adventure in Wales in Cardiff. I arrived from Salisbury after a connection in Bristol where I grabbed a bite to eat along with some conversation with a fellow backpacker who was from Australia. He had already been to Wales and recommended a few hostels – which I followed and what do you know, he was right. But I will get to that later.
As I was saying, Cardiff was my next stop and I jumped off the bus and headed past the new Millennium Stadium on my way to my hostel – International Cardiff Backpackers. A very friendly and clean hostel with a great common room with huge comfy couches; a large kitchen with free tea, coffee and toast; internet access at reasonable prices after 6pm; and a bar. The rooms were a little cramped and the beds have a plastic cover that makes you feel like you’re a wee child of three but drunk you don’t even notice – and how much time do you really spend in there anyways?
I went out with a bunch of people from the hostel – if I remember correctly there were three Australians, one German, one Dutch, myself and another Canadian – quite the international group. We went out to what was supposed to be an Aussie pub called the Walkabout – the Australians disagreed – and while I did feel slightly old, we all had a great time dancing and drinking a few beers. I even found a new beer that I liked – John Smiths. After we closed the place (at 11pm, I will never get use to that) we went to a small place where the music wasn’t as danceable. The group disbanded and we found ourselves back at the hostel.
Night became day and I was off to see Cardiff Castle. I wanted to see the castle for quite a few reasons – not the least of which was simply that it was a castle. It is an interesting blend of Roman, Norman, Gothic and Victorian Gothic. It was the creator of the Victorian Gothic that was the other main reason that I wanted to see the castle. The Third Marquis of Bute added a significant portion on to the castle and as I am living and working on the Isle of Bute in Scotland this winter I thought that it was an interesting connection. The castle is definately worth seeing regardless, especially if you have an interest in interior design or art.
The next day I departed Cardiff for Caernarfon in north Wales. It was a 7ï¿½ hour bus ride that was worth every second of the trip. Beautiful scenery abounds, especially as we drew closer to the Snowdonia region.
I spent a few days in Caernarfon, relaxing and exploring. The hostel that I stayed in – Trotter’s Hostel – was one that came highly recommended by both Let’s Go Britain and Ireland and the Australian that I met in Bristol. I must second that motion, although I guess it would be thirding it which I don’t suppose is a word. As Caernarfon is a fairly small town and it was the end of September there weren’t very many others staying in the hostel. However, the host was quite friendly and the rooms clean, comfy and huge. So was the kitchen which you have free use of and free all day tea, coffee, cereal and toast.
While I was exploring, I ventured into Caernarfon Castle, which is amazingly well restored and preserved, especially now as it is the site of the Investiture of the Prince of Wales. It is a fairly new tradition, it just started in the twentieth century. You are able to wander all over the castle, up the winding staircases that seem to go on forever but reward you with magnificent views when you finally reach the top. Within the castle is a nice 20 minute video of the history of the area and the castle as well as the Royal Welch Fusilier’s Museum. And the pub right across the street serves delicious food that seems to taste even better when it is raining.
As well as the castle, there is a little hill in town that is well worth the hike – it only takes about 15 minutes to get there. The view of the surrounding area, the castle and original town walls are quite the perfect picture opportunity.
I then journeyed on to catch the ferry at Holyhead over to Dublin, Ireland. Catch my adventures in the land of Guinness in the next installment.