Sunday, 20 September 2015

Not a Shithole: A trip to Cardiff and my final moments in Manchester

I'm currently sitting at the airport in Manchester, awaiting my flight to Iceland, where I'll spend the next 9 days before heading back home. My flight is delayed. I mean, it's not like I have anything planned for today, but, there's not really a lot of room to just hanging out here. So...I wait. It's crazy to think that these are actually my final hours here. But, given the delay, I suppose it's the perfect time to catch up all up on my final adventure(s).

After a good camp with the girls I boarded a train for Cardiff. I had a bit of a debate about where to spend these two days, and I had it narrowed down to Cardiff or Glasgow. The cheapest one won, obviously.

So, here I was in Cardiff. I checked in to my room, and then adventured. And, by "adventured" I mean, I was overwhelmed with the heat and sunshine, found a park, found a tree in the park, and plunked myself there for several hours. Maybe not the best use of time, as far as exploring Cardiff, but, it was pretty relaxing to just lay there, people watching, daydreaming, and writing. It reminded me of those designated 'quiet hour's in the woods during ESST camp and passing the time during my Vision Quest. If ever you find yourself under the cover of a good tree, I strongly recommend this terrific pastime.

Millenium Stadium

So - Baskin Robins is a thing in Cardiff. Nostalgia overdrive! 
The castle gardens/Bute Park/Cooper Fields/Black Friars

My daydream spot...

Enroute to Sophia Gardens 
The castle walls
Anyway, I wandered around aimlessly for the remainder of the day. There's honestly not much to report, but it was a pretty great first day. I walked throughout Cardiff University campus, within a few of the arcades, and just in and out of random streets. And then I had an epic sleep!

Part of the University of Cardiff

University of Cardiff/National Museum of Cardiff
Gorsedd Gardens
The walk back to my hotel...
Some interesting graffiti art!
Outside of Millennium Stadium are a bunch of these tiles, with stereotypical
depictions of the country they are meant to be representing.
I think that's a bacon wrapped beaver in the top corner, but I'm not sure...
The brain factory. I could think of a few people who could benefit from a visit here...
The next day, I had an early breakfast, and then made my way to Cardiff Castle. I seriously have a castle addiction. I also have a serious grudge against "tourists" that live through their iPad. I'm a photographer, filmmaker(ish) but honestly, you can't capture everything and anything perfectly through a lens. I mean, sure, it's great to snap shots to remember certain things by, and of course to share your experiences with, but somethings are meant to just be left for you to enjoy. So, it makes me sad and probably irrationally angry when I'm somewhere and I''m surrounded by a sea of iPads snapping pictures of things these people will never actually remember. Ugh... end rant. For now.

The castle was really neat. There was so great design happening there. Two rooms in particular caught my fancy - the rooftop garden (no surprise there, eh?) and the winter smoking room. No, this is not the point where I confess I've taken up this habit. It's actually just a really weird but delightful room filled with so many different tales. The nursery was also pretty neat, as it was decorated with images from popular children's stories.

Inside the castle walls 
My favourite room is located inside the walls of that colourful bit...and it was even more decorative inside!
The castle...
Bomb shelter

When I was finished with the castle, I made my way back to the hotel to gather my things, charge my phone (which somehow died over night) and - wait for it - visit the rooftop beehive. This was by far the most random but awesome thing to find in a hotel.

Later on, when I arrived back in Manchester, I was determined to tick off the one thing I hadn't yet done in the city centre, that I'd been wanting to - a visit to the Central Library. Yeah, sure, I'd been there but I hadn't actually been inside. And folks - I'm happy to report this mission was a success. I don't have any regrets in my life, but if I had to, not visiting this place sooner, and with more time, may have been one of them.

After leaving the Library, I made a quick stop to the Manchester Cathedral. I sat and people watched for a little bit before meeting some friends for dinner. I felt this was actually the perfect stop to end my Manchester journey, given that it was the first stop of my very first "cultural research" adventure in the city. I also took note of the community garden that wasn't quite in bloom in mid-January. Now it was full of flowers, people and life in general, I suppose.

Well, that's about it. See you on the other side of the world!

-the Orange Canadian

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