Sunday, March 16, 2014

TARDIS Time in Cardiff

I wasn't really expecting to have something exciting to tell you about this weekend, I was expecting this to be just another average week where the most exciting things that happened were going out to eat with friends and a Catholic Society social (both of which were lots of fun, but not necessarily what one would call exciting). But you're going to have to wait for the exciting bits, because we have to start from the beginning of the week.

The week began, unfortunately, with working on my first essay assignment of the term (honestly my first real any kind of assignment of the term). Worse, this essay was about accounting. Can you imagine writing an essay about accounting? Doing accounting is bad enough sometimes, writing about doing accounting is even worse. It was made especially difficult by the fact that I have gotten out of the habit of writing essay, since I've spent several months now with absolutely no assignments of any kind, which is both wonderful and terrifying, because next semester I will be back at William & Mary. I have definitely been thinking about how difficult it will be to go back to the academic atmosphere of W&M, which is quite rigorous and definitely busy, when compared to the fairly relaxed semester I've been having here. The focus on travel and new experiences while studying abroad is both to my benefit and to my detriment I suppose.

The upside was that I finished my, very wonderful, essay early. So, on Wednesday, I met up with Maddy and a few of her flatmates for dinner at Hubbox (that burger place on high street that I've now been to about four times). It was a nice treat, who doesn't enjoy a burger and fries?

Thursday also involved delicious, and bad for you, food. It was American Night for the Catholic Society social. We watched Mean Girls (and some of them didn't like it, can you believe?) and ate Sloppy Joes, potato salad, rice krispies, and muddy buddies (a very well-balanced meal, wouldn't you agree?). I think we may even have converted some of these poor deprived Brits to the wonder that is the Sloppy Joe.

Earlier that Thursday, Sophie had decided that she wanted to go somewhere this weekend, and we spent a couple of hours trying to figure out what trips might actually be possible this last minute. We ultimately decided on Cardiff (the capital of Wales), and Maddy said she'd be interested in coming along as well. We all bought our tickets separately and spent Friday trying to plan out what we wanted to do with our day in Cardiff.

We left from the Exeter bus station at 6:30 in the morning, which was difficult for me because I am in no way a morning person, had a half an hour stop in Bristol (which we used to walk around a little before getting back on the bus), and arrived in Cardiff about four hours later. We had until 9 that night, but most of the museums and castles closed at 5, so we still had some time limits.

First we headed to Cardiff Castle, which included: battlements which surrounded the actual castle and around which you could walk (and some creepy tunnels below them), a shell of a keep on top of a daffodil-covered hill and surrounded by a moat, and a mansion whose interior is a spectacular example of the gothic revival in architecture.

The view from the top of the keep was gorgeous, although I did regret my choice not to bring my sunglasses when faced with all that sun (which is why I look as though I am crying in about half of the pictures we took up there).

After exploring the castle grounds for awhile, we headed down towards the bay for lunch. The walk to the bay definitely felt longer than it should have, mostly because by that point we were very ready to eat.

On our way we walked through the Roald Dahl Plass (or Plaza) and saw the Water Tower (which looked more like a mirror tower, because the water appeared to be off), and took some flatteringly distorted pictures of our reflections.

We settled on the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which had a wonderful view of the water and where I had the skinniest french fries I have ever had in my life and the Camemburger (which included Camembert and hash browns).

We split off for a bit after lunch. I headed to the Doctor Who Experience (hence the title of this post), while Maddy and Sophie took a walk around the bay (as neither of them watch the show). The museum was, in my opinion, a lot of fun. The first half hour was an interactive adventure featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor (which I appreciated, because he is my favorite). Then there was an exhibition of costumes, set pieces, and aliens! Also it turns out the Water Tower that we had seen earlier is the site of the headquarters in Torchwood, a Doctor Who spin-off, which I don't really watch.

We met back up by the bay at around three and decided to take a river boat tour of the bay. It made for a nice break from walking around for Maddy and Sophie, and the views were really pretty since the weather was so beautiful. We stopped into the Pierhead Building, which is part of the National Assembly of Wales, and the Wales Millennium Centre, both of which were really cool from the outside but less interesting inside.

By that point it was nearly five, none of the museums were open anymore, and we needed a caffeine pick me up. We wandered back towards the main street, which turned out to be completely packed. It turned out that we had chosen the day of the Wales vs. Scotland rugby match in Cardiff for our trip, so we saw all sorts of incredibly and inappropriate(ly entertaining) drunken revelry.

We found a cafe that wasn't too crowded, luckily everyone else was looking for alcohol and not coffee so it wasn't too difficult. Maddy and Sophie got Mochas (with misshapen hearts in the foam) and I got an pot of Early Grey tea. We relaxed for a bit before wandering around the town a bit more, wanderings which included a stop into Primark to consider the merits of overalls.

Eventually we decided it was time to eat again and found ourselves a Bangladeshi and Indian restaurant called Barbucci. We split an order of Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Curry, as well as Peshwari and plain naan. It was absolutely delicious and definitely the right choice.

Then it was time to walk to the train station and head home, we arrived back in Exeter at about one in the morning. It was an exhausting walk home, especially considering that I am now sick for the second time since I arrived in Exeter (hopefully I won't completely lose my voice this time), but the trip was worth it.

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