Grand Tour of Great Britain-Cardiff and Cardiff Castle

Sunrise in Cardiff, Wales

It's Tuesday, October 17 and we're rising in Cardiff, Wales. I look out of our fourth floor window and see an amazing sunrise. I think it might be due to Hurricane Ophelia and the dust and debris it brought along with it from the Sahara and Portugal and Spain.

We spent the night at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House in the center of town. Today we'll be touring Cardiff then heading back into England to the city of Bath.

But first Cardiff. Our city tour doesn't begin until 9:30 a.m. so we get a bit of a sleep-in. We have a nice buffet breakfast and then meet our guide Stella. She'll be taking us around the city and dropping us off so we can explore Cardiff Castle on our own later this morning.

We learn right off that next to New Zealand, Wales is most passionate about RUGBY (we learned all about rugby on our trip to New Zealand-we followed the ALL BLACKS!)

The hotel wall artwork is very interesting.

Stella tells us Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) is the capital and largest city in Wales and the eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom.

The city is the country's chief commercial center, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. The Cardiff metropolitan area makes up over a third of the total population of Wales, with a 2016 population estimate of about 1,100,000 people.

Cardiff is a significant tourist center and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 18.3 million visitors in 2010. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic's alternative tourist destinations. We drive past the National Museum and the Castle. But not to worry we'll be back.

We tour around Cardiff Bay.

We end up back at the Wales Millennium Center, home to the performing arts of Wales.

We had about an hour to explore the center and the bay. And then we're back on the coach and headed toward the castle.

We had a lovely lunch at the Seafood Shack. We each ordered their seafood chowder and had hoped to get the grilled pineapple for dessert but the chowder was too filling. How people order it as an app. then have a main too is beyond me.

We cross the street and walked around Cardiff Castle and the grounds. "The Keep" pretty much dominates the inner walled area.

A little about the castle from their website:

Roman Fort
The Roman fort at Cardiff was probably established at the end of the 50s AD, on a strategic site that afforded easy access to the sea. Archaeological excavations indicate that this was the first of four forts, each a different size, that occupied the present site. Remains of the Roman wall can be seen today.

Norman Keep
After the Norman conquest, the Castle’s keep was built, re-using the site of the Roman fort. The first keep on the motte, erected by Robert Fitzhamon, Norman Lord of Gloucester, was probably built of wood. Further medieval fortifications and dwellings followed over the years.

Bute Family
The Castle passed through the hands of many noble families until in 1766, it passed by marriage to the Bute family. The 2nd Marquess of Bute was responsible for turning Cardiff into the world’s greatest coal exporting port. The Castle and Bute fortune passed to his son John, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, who by the 1860s was reputed to be the richest man in the world.

William Burges
From 1866 the 3rd Marquess employed the genius architect William Burges to transform the Castle lodgings. Within gothic towers he created lavish and opulent interiors, rich with murals, stained glass, marble, gilding and elaborate wood carvings. Each room has its own special theme, including Mediterranean gardens and Italian and Arabian decoration. The 3rd Marquess died when he was only 53 in 1900. Despite huge death duties on the estate, the 4th Marquess completed many of his father’s restoration projects including the reconstruction of the Roman wall. The Bute family continued to stay at the Castle throughout the 1920s and 1930s, although they had sold off many of their business interests in south Wales.

A gift to the city of Cardiff
Following the death of the 4th Marquess of Bute, the family decided to give the Castle and much of its parkland to the city of Cardiff. For 25 years, the Castle was home to the National College of Music and Drama and since 1974 has become one of Wales’ most popular visitor attractions.

We visited visit the Castle Apartments but didn't have time to do the house tour. I wish we had as the themed rooms were gorgeous.

We even have a nice chat with a young man who works at the castle falconry center.

 He was exercising the birds. It was quite fun to watch.

While waiting for our fellow travelers, we get to enjoy some of The Animal Wall at Cardiff Castle.

Once everyone is on board and Nick does his headcount, were heading toward Bath.

We do a quick tour around the city, passing the house that Jane Austen stayed at with her family.

And arrive at the newly opened Apex Hotel Bath. We get room 352.

We giggle and say "Ha, we're staying in B-52!"

The rooms are very nice and BRAND new.

You know I have to take a bath in Bath, right.

We have some time before a dinner included at the hotel so Jay and I hop over to The Bath Brew House for a pint of their Arbor Breakfast Stout.

The hotel dinner was a mackerel app, flank steak and chocolate tart for dessert.

Loads more photos: Cardiff to Bath

Tomorrow a day wondering around Bath.

Grand Tour of Great Britain with Go Ahead Tours

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