05.04.2013 - 05.04.2013 7 °C
Waking up this morning was difficult. I realize that in the last blog post I forgot to mention the entirety of the night's escapades. Laundry was on the to-do list, as my aunt was leaving in just a couple days and we had to air dry all of our clothes. This meant doing three loads in one night, starting at nine o'clock. We realise we should've started sooner, but foolishly expected the washer to be efficient in some way, shape, or form. This was not the case. It was three in the morning by the time Auntie Helen and I flopped into bed. Each load took about one and a half to two hours to complete, and then we had to find creative ways to ensure each article of clothing was able to dry out. We played a lot of cribbage waiting for the machine to finally stop turning. Needless to say, waking up this morning was difficult.
We decided to start off our first full day in Wales by visiting the famous Cardiff Castle. As we approached the castle, we passed by Animal Wall, which is exactly what you might think it is. Fifteen carved animals sit atop the stone wall located next to Cardiff Castle, including a hyena, an anteater, and a pair of apes. The wall was nearly demolished in the 1970s in order to widen Castle Street, which it borders, but luckily this idea was discarded. It added a bit of whimsy to the otherwise intimidating building behind it. Unfortunately, the crispness in the air had amplified Mom's head cold, and she had to bow out and make her way home again. We persevered without her.
Our Cardiff Castle tour began in the tunnels, which were used as air raid shelters during the last world war. Various propaganda posters lined the walls. This one was my favourite. After we emerged, we made our way up to the keep. Mounted on a man-made hill and surrounded by a moat, this was one of the most classic looking castles I've ever seen, complete with battlements and a flag on top. From the top, we had a 360 degree view of Cardiff. Most people were inside the main area of the keep, though, protecting themselves from the wind.
Our last stop was the large Victorian house located on the castle grounds. I walked through the sizeable, well-equipped kitchen enviously, though less so, I'm sure, than my father when we came to the library. The walls were lined with bookshelves laden with everything from city records and Encyclopedia Britannicas to Bibles and Shakespeare plays. The shelves themselves were decorated with carvings and intricate patterns of inlaid wood. But the crowning glory of the place was the five statuettes above the fireplace, each holding the alphabet of one of the five apparent original languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Runes. Making our way through the rest of the house, we found out about the servants that ran the place. It made us feel a bit like we were visiting Downton Abbey.
When we had finished seeing the grounds of Cardiff Castle, we took a walk through the streets of Cardiff itself. Here we encountered many shopping arcades. Apparently Cardiff has six historic ones, totaling about 800 metres in length, and filled with an assortment of vintage shops, tattoo parlours, and tiny cafes. These differ from the modern arcades, which are more like shopping malls, highly polished and with newer and well advertised stores and brands. Though we didn't buy anything, we amused ourselves by window shopping and pointing at some of the more peculiar items in said windows.
Since this was Auntie Helen's last day with us, we went out for dinner at a Thai restaurant a few blocks down from our apartment. Abby was especially happy about this, as she has been missing Little Thai Place, a restaurant often visited by our family for special occasions. She ordered her favourite Pad Thai, while Mom, Dad, and Auntie Helen stuck with curries. We all enjoyed our meals, though we noted that this was probably going to be our last dinner out for awhile. We're definitely missing Turkish prices.
On our way back home, we picked up some cheesecake and ice cream, and wound down the evening with games and conversation. Abby and I bid goodnight and farewell to our aunt, not sure if we would be able to keep any promises to see her off in the early morning hours. She's been a welcome addition to our travels these past two weeks, and we're glad we could give her the opportunity for a vacation, however brief. Hope you have a great stay in Holland!