I’ve always wanted to visit Wales to see the Lloyd side of my family, and with the addition of Talley when I married Clinton it was basically inevitable! While Emily and I visited Cardiff Castle as a day trip to see the landscape, I did try to take an extra look for anything that may give me more information about the Talleys. While I didn’t find really anything, I did actually find a key-chain with the name! That is pretty rare!
Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle located in the city center of Cardiff, Wales. The trip from London took a little bit of navigation as we had to take a 3 hour one way bus, but it was not difficult to purchase only a few days ahead of time for pretty inexpensive. The bus station was confusing to find because London does not like to label the difference between a bus, rail, or subway (at least to the average visitor) but we managed! Exiting from the city center stop is only a short walk to Cardiff Castle and the actual city center. We looked up a few places to visit while we were in town and settled on The Alchemist, a cute restaurant not for it’s Welsh food but for its unique flare and amazing drinks. We walked around the town for a few hours before heading back to London. A highly recommend a day trip if that is the only time you have left to visit the country! The bus was extremely easy – once we found the location, finding the correct bus line was very easy and our driver was friendly. We had a nice basic seat with room for our legs to stretch and baggage to be placed above our head. The bus wasn’t full so we were able to stretch out a bit, which was nice for such a long trip back and forth. It was also nice to have someone else drive since by then we were kinda over driving around England and Scotland. Cardiff Castle does charge a fee but it is well worth the price. Of all castles I have to admit – Cardiff was one of my favorites. Not only was it open to the public to view without problems (I felt in London it was rather difficult and not easy if you didn’t play it ahead of time) but there was so much history to view I doubt we learned it all. We paid extra for a historic tour and learned a lot – another thing I recommend spending a little bit extra on!
One of the most interesting things I learned was about the 4th Marquess of Bute, who inherited the castle early in the 20th century. The vast wealth is on display throughout the house – in one room there is paint that is actually gold! The Marquess of Bute was extremely religious, which is evident is the design of the house such as the Roof Top Garden. This area has both an open “roof” as well as a shallow step down into an area that would fill up during the wet season but still allow for meditation in a lovely garden. The bedrooms are breathtaking with their hand painted portraits and paintings, mostly of religious figures from the Bible. By the time World War II started most of the land was either commercialized or nationalized until little was left of the castle. Extensive air raid shelters were built in the walls and when you visit, you can walk through them to get a sense of what it would be like to walk around them in the modern era. When the Marquess died the castle was left to the citizens of Cardiff, who are able to enter the public land free to charge as long as they remain a resident of the city.
We didn’t have a lot of time left over after touring Cardiff Castle, not enough at least to travel further than about a mile on foot around the immediate area. We walked through Bute Park, which was very quaint and beautiful. Surrounded by the city of Cardiff, it reminded me of Baltimore and Patterson Park. You could easily disappear into the park even though if you took a minute to think about it, there was traffic and city noises all around you. They did a great job of removing that atmosphere. We stopped at a little cafe where I got tea (I tried to order that as much as possible, and discovered I like it with milk. Who knew?). It was different than the cafes I was use to in the Netherlands and Germany but I was trying to get use to it. Instead of a variety of breads and cheeses it was mostly teas and coffees juices. Sandwiches were big, but for some reason only flavors that I knew for sure I liked I actually liked – experimenting was hard. I didn’t like the reliance on mayo or fish and chips (super disappointing, I thought it was something I’d like!) but overall I’m glad I tried all the things I did during our travels. I drank a lot of juice smoothies so I didn’t get sick since I didn’t feel like I ate a lot food with substance, and we tried to remind each other daily to eat because there didn’t seem to be much of a variety with restaurants! I digress…Bute Park was a nice, close diversion from the city and a nice walk through nature. The tea was great! 🙂
This post ends the travels of #CuzUK but we hope you enjoyed the ride along the way! Traveling is stressful, logistically difficult at times, and complex. But it is overall enjoyable, breathtaking, and amazing…and worth it. Be smart, but don’t let simple things or the fear of travel stop you from taking the leap for adventures. I hope this blog encourages you to think outside the box and keep traveling!
If you’ve been keeping up, the #TravelingTalleys blog has already updated you to the adventures of #CuzUK in Sunderland, Scotland, the gardens of London, and the Tower of London. But everything in England isn’t roses! While Emily and I were in London we went to a few iconic places along with immersing ourselves in the history of Great Britain at the Imperial War Museum. Visiting London of course means visiting Big Ben, which was unfortunately under construction (leave something to come back for!) and Westminster Abbey, which we were not allowed to take pictures inside while visiting.
During one of our daily marathon walks we were able to travel over Thames by various bridges, one of them being London Bridge. The history of this bridge spans many generations, including a stone-built medieval structure that lasted 600 years. The current span opened to traffic in 1973 and is built from concrete and steel. London Bridge remained the only road-crossing downstream of Kingston over Thames until 1792 when the Putney Bridge opened. Central London, where we spent some of our time, is very similar to large, metropolitan cities that have a high percentage of visitors from around the world. Commercially, London also caters to many businesses across Europe and the world. Remember, Great Britain was an incredibly spread out empire – very much so even today. Seeing the blend of modern architecture and medieval was like when Clinton and I walked through the old Roman ruins, to an extend. While the Romans are no longer in power and arguably Great Britain still rules part of the world, the structures speak of an affluent time with creative minds. I appreciated the intricate details that were molded into everyday Great Britain.
Walking around the town of London also included educational trips to a museum, and one of the best museums we found during our travel was the Imperial War Museums. Actually a museum with five different branches, three of them in London. The museums were founded in 1917 to record the civil and military war efforts of Great Britain and its Empire during World War I. Today, the museum includes all conflicts that Great Britain was involved in since 1914. Included in the museum’s collection is the personal and official documents, photographs, film, and video material from various wars. It was an extremely impressive collection that included oral history recordings. As a self proclaimed “historian” of humans throughout time, a very important part of history is oral history recordings. Hearing from the person directly who lived during different time periods is always moving. The museum also includes a large art collection and many examples of military vehicles and aircraft. Entering the museum is free but donations are always encouraged!
One of the more popular places we visited during our trip was Westminster Abbey. This beautiful Gothic abbey church is one of the most notable and famous religious places in London and is also the traditional place of coronation for the monarchy. Formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster. SInce 1066 the Abbey has been a coronation church – or the official ceremony where a king or queen is officially crowned – since 1066 and is also the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. The present church was begun by Henry III in 1245 and still holds a medieval shrine of Anglo-Saxon saint. Today, the church is not used for coronations but is a place for tourists to visit and for those to come to throughout the day for worship. Services are daily and just the thought that over 1000 years of history is in one building always amazes me. I’ve been to many “old” buildings and love visiting churches because of this!
Westminster Abbey does require a fee to enter and you are not allowed to take pictures, but there is a nice gift shop where you can purchase a picture book and you are given a self guided tour to peruse the Abbey on your own time. Seventeen monarchs reside within the Abbey and if you were like me to actually enjoyed your history class, it’s pretty cool when you round a corner and see a shrine to a monarch whose name your recognize. Who is not there – notably, Henry VIII. Of course not, right? 🙂 There is a section called “Poet’s Corner” where famous authors of the day were buried, including Charles Dickens. Death wasn’t the only thing celebrated in this gorgeous abbey. Wedding are also popular, including that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – William and Kate. The building is absolutely beautiful and the surrounding area is pretty as well, though it is very crowded as it is part of the main city center of London. Be prepared for lines and rude visitors!
I’ve found that even knowing the language of the locals doesn’t necessarily matter, so patience is key in many situations. Don’t let a language barrier (or in this case lack of one) give you a false sense of security. You are still in a foreign land! We tried to stop into tea shops throughout the day and tried to learn as much as we could about the local history and culture wherever we traveled. It was nice not having language as a barrier, but customs still took a little time to get use to! I loved our many adventures and walks around town each day and appreciated the help we received along the way. This isn’t the end of my blog adventures since we also visited Wales and that post will be next, but our adventures in London will end here. Thanks for keeping tuned to the travels of #CuzUK and keep here for details of Wales! Till next time!
Our time in London would not have been complete without visiting the Tower of London. Located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London and contains over 1,000 years of history, the Tower of London is an impressive structure. Much like visiting an aquarium or large popular museum there was a large line and hundreds of visitor from around the world constantly around you, oblivious to where they are walking or who else may be around them. We opted for a self tour more than joining a paid tour, and note that when you pay for the ticket it includes a “donation” that you can ask to remove beforehand. When Emily and I visited it was very rainy so we didn’t stay outside too long, and the line to visit the crown jewels was directly in the rain and was very long so we didn’t see the jewels.
When you first arrive you walk over the moat and can continue into a courtyard or walk up on the ramparts. The first are we visited was the Tower’s Mint, which as where the coins were made for the realm within the safety of the walls in the tower from c1279 and until 1810. Since tampering with coins was considered treasonous many thieves and forgers were deterred from continuing with their nefarious actions – but as we learned in the Mint they weren’t all deterred. Keep walking along and you arrive at the medieval residence. The Tower was once the residence for the royal family back in the medieval times of the 1200s. Like most medieval residence, the monarchy rarely lived for long periods of times, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t “Fit for a King” in anticipation of their visit. Lavishly decorated and stylishly furnished, the residence and the Great Halls of the residence could be a busy place depending on the night. While wee didn’t get to visit the crown jewels, we were able to walk close by the current residence for the royal family, which had a guard out front! I cannot imagine being so “important” that a guard would need to be in front of my residence! The little lawn was so quaint in front of the apartment but I have to admit seeing such a large, old historic building surrounded by central London was a little off putting. Seeing a monarch’s apartment being guarded even though no one was actually in the apartment was also strange. It was extremely interesting to see history and culture/tradition in action though! The guards also walked in shifts around the entrance to the crown jewels. The jewels are actually underground and heavily guarded. Seeing the uniforms and “changing of the guards” (not the same as at the castles where the royals currently are actually living) was extraordinary!
A notable area to visit in the tower is the historical armaments and the torture areas. I was astonished to see the lack of historical data about torture. It almost seemed as if the museum was trying to gloss over this part of their history. As a self proclaimed historian, I disagree with this method of historical preservation. The tower did a great job of easing into the discussion of England’s role in torture and what took place in the tower, and I do know that torture was not as prolific in the tower as we all originally thought, but they could have done a better job. My opinion! Plus, it was interesting! I wanted to learn and read more but there was only one small room that explained this part of their history. The armaments area was more interesting because a historian for the monarchy admitted to changing history and was caught! To their credit, after the discovery the history was changed and is currently correct. Though it does make you wonder!
Controversial figures throughout the British history have been imprisoned at the Tower of London, including Anne Boleyn. The wife of Henry VIII, she was doomed the minute she fell for Henry. Not much is really known about her but her body does rest in the tower. Princess Elizabeth, imprisoned by Mary I, lived a luxurious life in the tower during her imprisonment until she returned for her own coronation. Guy Fawkes was interrogated and tortured in the tower for plotting to kill James I. He was eventually hanged, drawn and quartered, and his body parts displayed to warn others. How medieval!
The Tower of London was larger than I pictured and had so much more history that I could have imagined. Of course, 1000 year is a lot, but with such a span of history as the #1 in the world it also was really neat to see a timeline of events and evolution. England went through so many changes over their 1,000 years and it is evident visiting the tower. The food is a lot like visiting a cafeteria so if you are looking for more of a British feel, wait and eat in the restaurants around the tower. You can buy tickets online or that morning and of course there are multiple gift shops for you to get your gifts! Take most of the day to visit as there is a lot to cover, and give yourself the time to walk around next to the river Thames. It is very pretty and the bridges that span around the river are remarkable. Take the Underground and get off at the Tower Hill stop and it’s just a short walk into the Tower. Bring a rain jacket if you are visiting during the summer – but also bring your sunglasses because the day could change. And don’t forget to have a great time! Until next time. ❤