Thursday, July 23, 2015

Quaint Cardiff


Ketika di Cardiff memandu kereta
Kereta Ford berbumbung hitam
Pepatah Melayu ada berkata
Jauhari jua mengenal manikam

Quaint Cardiff

{as published in New Straits Times, Life & Times Travel, 23 July 2015}

If you are planning to go for a holiday in the United Kingdom, it is highly recommended that you include Cardiff as part of your travel itinerary.

Cardiff has the population of approximately 335,000 and is the capital city and business heart of Wales. The landmark of Cardiff is Cardiff Castle, situated in the middle of the city. This building boasts more than 2,000 years of history.

The people of Wales have their own language, called Welsh. Thus, Cardiff is also known as Caerdydd. It is interesting to note that the current heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, is officially known as the Prince of Wales.

I first visited Cardiff in September 1988, with my wife, Dr. Rokiah, and two daughters. At that time, my wife was pursuing her doctoral degree at Cardiff University. When my daughters Dr. Sarah and Syazana went for a holiday in London in December 10 years later, they visited Cardiff and the castle again. We visited Cardiff for the third time recently.

Cardiff Castle was first built as a Roman fort. The Romans arrived in Wales in 76 AD and built a 3.2ha stronghold on the banks of the River Taff in order to help them hold the land newly won from the fierce Silures of South Wales.

The Romans rebuilt the fort about two centuries later, adding 3m-high walls around it. Parts of these walls still stand today.

After the Romans, the Normans arrived in Cardiff centuries later and built their castle on the site of the old Roman fort and incorporated what remained the work of their predecessors.

The Norman Keep still dominates the castle grounds. As attacks by the Welsh tested the castle, it was strengthened and improved over several years. Days of strife returned during the English Civil War when Cardiff Castle was held by the Royalists and later by the Parliamentarians.

Years of decay followed but in the last century, the third Marquis of Bute appointed a Victorian architect William Burges, to restore the castle.

The colourful and lavish interiors created by Burges continue to surprise and delight visitors who enter a grim castle which had otherwise seen only battles, to find themselves surrounded by exquisite wood carvings and sculptures, and murals that tell of the castle’s long history.

Today, Cardiff Castle is a tourist attraction, drawing visitors all over the world. It is a delightful and educational visit. The attractions in the Cardiff Castle include the museums of The Welch Regiment and The Queen’s Dragoon Guards – a fascinating display of military history.

For a joyful and entertaining evening, visitors can join for a traditional Welsh banquet. A café and gift shop are on site. The castle is open to visitors at 9am to 5pm.

The castle was handed over to the City of Cardiff (declared as a city by Queen Elizabeth II in 1956) by the Bute family in 1948. It is near parks, hotels and shopping complex as well as bus, taxi and railway stations.

If you are in Cardiff for the first time, do visit the Cardiff Tourist Information Centre (in Welsh, it is Canolfan Croeso Caerdydd) for more information about the city. It is open seven days a week, except from Dec 24 to 26 Jan 1.

Moving around is easy as the buses or taxis are reliable. Telephone numbers of taxis are easy to remember, for example – Premier Cars (555 555), Capital Cabs (777 777) and Dragon Taxis (333 333).

As for accommodation, there are many hotels here: Cardiff Central Travelodge, Cardiff Hilton, Park Plaza, Holiday Inn, Angel, Royal, Sandringham, Marriott, Park Inn, Big Sleep, Radisson, Ibis and others.

Before leaving Cardiff, you may want to do some quick shopping. The shopping areas are located at Queen Street, Queens Arcade, St David’s Shopping Centre, High Street Arcade and The Capitol.

After Cardiff Castle, if you have a few extra hours to spare, I suggest a visit to Mermaid Quay, Wales Millennium Centre and the Roald Dahl Plass (or Plaza Roald Dahl) at Cardiff Bay. But if you’ve visited the Cardiff Castle, you can say that you have been to Cardiff.

7 Syawal 1436H


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