Hello, all! I'm sorry I didn't post anything on Thursday, but my internet decided to fritz out, and also I didn't really have too much to talk about but today I do because I went to Cardiff!! It was a very awesome and very educational day.
Lisa (my flatmate) and I got up at 6:30 and then went on an epic journey to find the Victoria Coach Station (thing 1 learned: the difference between the term "bus" and the term "coach" is that buses are the red double-decker things that go around London or other short term trips and coaches are things that take you cross-country. So don't go to Victoria Station (for trains, buses, and the underground) and expect to find your coach). We got there in plenty of time, watched the pigeons that had gotten inside flap around and sit up on the ceiling fans and such, and then got on a nice warm bus to Cardiff.
Bus travel is extremely uncomfortable if you are tall and have a long neck. Like me. I think my shoulders are still mad at me. But after many hours of dozing off and jerking awake and looking out the window and dozing off again, we arrived in Wales. Wales is a terribly pretty country - there was snow on the mountains as we drove in, and lots more rolling hills and sheep and birch trees. Also, all of the road signs are twice as long, because they are in both English and Welsh. I had no idea that Welsh was as prevalent as it seems to be, but it's absolutely everywhere. According to Wikipedia, approximately 21% of the Welsh population speaks Welsh, with over half of those Welsh speakers claiming to speak it every day. Kinda neat! Welsh is cool - it looks completely incomprehensible to me, and it sounds somewhere between Gaelic and German, I think. It's quite intriguing.
After getting extremely lost for a good half hour at least, Lisa and I found the National Museum and decided to go in. This seems to be a museum of everything - they have art and natural history and all sorts of things. We went and looked at the natural history things first, of course - we saw rocks from space and some interesting videos in Welsh and some dinosaurs, and then we walked through the weird modern art and saw an exhibition of teacups and other beautifully decorated china and then we found the Impressionists wing. It was amazing to find all sorts of really rather famous art in this tiny little museum in Wales - Lisa, who studied French in high school, was really happy to see all of the Rodin things they had there especially. It was really cool!
After lunch, we went into Cardiff Castle (Castell Caerdydd). It was absolutely incredible. The castle itself and the keep were built in the 1100s, I believe, but over the centuries of people living there, things kept getting added and changed to suit the comfort of the family and the decorative style of the time period. One of the things I'm loving most about living in England is that it is an absolutely amazing feeling to be walking somewhere where people have walked for centuries - to be climbing (incredibly steep) steps that Oliver Cromwell might have climbed, to walk along the tunnels under the keep that were turned into air raid shelters during World War II and feel what it might have been like to hear German planes overhead. It's just so exciting to be in a place where history seems so very alive.
Yeah, we climbed to the top of that. :D
After the castle, Lisa and I walked down to Cardiff Bay (Bae Caerdydd) because we are both massive Doctor Who fans and we could not pass up the opportunity to walk down to Roald Dahl Plass and see this:
It's the rift! Unfortunately, we saw no sign of the Doctor while we were there. Alas.
At this point, we were rather frozen, and we walked back to Cardiff Central and had some dinner and waited around for the bus. Another fun fact: sometimes, Megabuses are not Megabuses. We sat at the bus stop for a good forty-five minutes, unaware that our bus was right in front of us. Fortunately, a nice British lady pointed this out to us and we hopped on the bus, dozed off, and made it back to London in time to catch the tube back home. It was a most excellent day. :D