Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wales: Day 9 The Castle on the Corner

Monday was fabulous. We were able to sleep in a little and our only requirement for the morning was to watch a movie with our roommates about the history of the Welsh language. It was 4 hours and kind of boring, but was a nice change of pace from barreling across the country in a huge van for the duration of the morning. But that's pretty fun too. :)

After our movie, we got ready and headed to downtown Cardiff. It was finally our day to see the famed Cardiff Castle! But first we had lunch. Everyone's been asking me about the food here. Well nothing is really too different. We do love these cookie/biscuit things called Digestives, and the sodas and drinks here are really weird. Bakery items here are the most delicious. Cornish Pasties are probably the best "foreign" food here. Traditional Pasties are like croissants sort of, but filled with beef-stew-like contents, such as beef, potatoes and carrots. I got a spicy vegetable one.

Some girls like the cheese and onion, and a few got the pork and apple. All the ones I've tasted have been pretty delicious. I want to find a recipe and make them when I get home. Tom bought us all pasties for lunch and we hung out downtown to eat them before heading to the castle.

Then we did some SHOPPING. Which you know I love. I scored. I got almost everything I needed souvenir wise, and found some other great stuff. Primark is kind of like their Forever XXI and we were in there for like 2 hours, and then went back after the castle tour. What's up sunglasses for 1 pound? (Don't worry. I only bought 3 pairs. And only 1 pair was for me!)

Finally it was time for Cardiff Castle! William the Conquerer's eldest son Robert was held captive and killed here by his little brother, William I in order to maintain the latter's claim on the throne. It was later inhabited by Scottish nobility who had a RIDICULOUS amount of money, and is therefore furnished lavishly. Some of these rooms were worth more than entire cities. This is the Banquet Hall, and people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get married here.

Other rooms were comparably ornate, especially the Arab Room, which was gilded in flakes of 24 carat gold.

On one tower of the castle was a Roman-style garden and fountain at the very top, now very weather-beaten and protected from further wear. I loved it though!

There was stained glass almost everywhere. No, I'm still not tired of it. These panels depict the final scenes of the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Hopefully they aren't too blurry for you to see. Beautiful.

Shout out to my library peeps! This was a spectacular private library with tons of antique tomes.

Our tour guide was this cute older gentleman, who was really smart and very funny. He told us tons of stories about the castle and its inhabitants. One story, about the men's cigar room was hilarious. This elaborate room was created for the men to retreat and smoke cigars and talk after dinner. To discourage the women from eavesdropping, the owner carved and placed this on the ceiling directly above where the women would be perched listening, and then a small stair behind that, in the hopes that they'd look up, see THIS

and then trip backwards over the stair and learn their lesson about eavesdropping on the men's conversations.

Great, relaxing day of castle-seeing and shopping. I love Cardiff!

1 comment: