Gadabout's Corner

Bird of passage

Author: Yok (Page 1 of 7)

How I Spent a Day in Cardiff, Wales

Is the idea of chilling in a park, visiting some castles, reading in a café, eating by the bay and shopping in an arcades sound like a good weekend? If so, then Cardiff might be your place.

Cardiff is a big city with modern buildings, lively waterfront, blended with Victorian architectures, old shopping arcades and decorated by big parks. You should spend a proper weekend there. It’s pretty sweet! However, for this post, I want to share with you how I spent a Spring day in Cardiff on my own, walking on foot, exploring.

I arrived at Cardiff Coach Station in Sophia Gardens late evening and from there I walked for about 30 minutes to Nomad Backpacker at Howard Gardens. Along the way, I got to admire the sight of the lit-up Cardiff Castle and experienced the busy Queen Street.

After a good sleep, I woke up quite early, grabbed something to eat at Sainsbury’s, and headed off to my first stop, the Llandaff Cathedral. It took me about an hour to get there. I was stunned by how nice this place is. It’s slightly ruined, with magnificent architecture. The surrounding was peaceful and the Cathedral itself is quite charming. I also spent sometime relaxing by the Llandaff Meadow, along River Taff as well.

After a good rest by the river, I took off and aimed for Bute Park, using Feeder Canal Trail, walking through Gorsedd Gardens for about half an hour, then stopping at Cardiff National Museum, City Hall and Crown Court.

After a couple of snaps, I kept walking a bit further and ended up at the Cardiff Castle. The castle is massive and it’s beautifully decorated by towers, giving the place a classy edge.

When I was satisfied exploring the massive castle, I was just walking around until I came across the Cathays Cemetery. Then, I followed all the dogs and their owners into Roath Park, got myself an ice-cream and relaxed by the massive lake. I was entertained by a little boy, who was constantly throwing tennis ball into the lake for his dog to swim and pick it up. The park was packed with couples, children, dogs and runners. It was a lively day filled with energy. 🙌

After I finally managed to get my lazy arse off the ground, I made my way toward the city centre. The first stop I made was at the YHA Cardiff Central, because that’s where I spent my night. So, I was just dropping off my stuff.

With lighter feet, I walked to Bute East Dock, stopped for few pictures of the reflected houses above the water, continued my journey toward the bay and made another stop at Wales Millennium Centre. The architecture of this arts centre is quite artsy but the interior is amazing! It’s so glamorous and classy.

I also spent sometime walking around the area, exploring places like Merchant Place, Roald Dahl Plass, Senedd and Pierhead. I decided that I’d stop for food at the Mermaid Quay, so that’s how I walk around, finding a place to eat. 🍔

After a big meal, I kept walking, sticking to the right until I found the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. It’s a wetlands reserve in the middle of the city centre and it’s very green! They have done an amazing job looking after this place. I was very impressed.

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My next destination of the day was Penarth Marina, so from the wetlands reserve, I kept walking and crossed the bridge twice until I found the Dolly Steps, which is the entrance to the Alexandra Park. I enjoyed walking through this park a lot because there weren’t many people and it’s beautifully decorated with smaller gardens and the Penarth War Memorial. I took the exit to the Bridgeman Road and found the stunning Penarth Pier.

I spent a lot of time walking along the esplanade and had my early dinner by the pier. Once I was ready, I headed to the left of the pier on Beach Road, continued to Windsor Road and took one right onto Harbour View Road, High Street and finally stopped at the Paget Road.

At the Paget Road, I was stunned by the sight of Cardiff Bay under the golden sunset skies, with the elegance marina. It’s a perfect lookout point, because of the distance and the height. The view that you’ll be rewarded is amazing. It’s honestly my favorite spot of this Cardiff trip. I was a bit unfortunate that my phone was out of battery, otherwise I could show you the picture. Though, you should definitely check it out if you are gonna be exploring Penarth.

Because I saw the lit-up Cardiff Bay in front of me, so that’s where I headed to next. I crossed Cardiff Bay Barrage, with the bay on my left and the channel on my right. On the Tardis Walk, I walked toward the Doctor Who Experience, which was closed by the time I arrived, but still, it’s better than nothing. 😂

I founded the Norwegian Church Arts Centre at the Britania Park and tried to figure my way back to the hostel. I was a bit tired. Because my phone was out of battery and I had no map on me, it took me an hour to get back to my accommodation when it should only take about half an hour. Though, It was great fun and I enjoyed it a lot.

The next morning, I made few more stops before going to catch the bus to my next destination. The first stop was for some quick breakfast, then to St Mary Church, the Parish of Saint Paula Grangetown and finally the Principality Stadium.

From the stadium, I walked the Millennium Walk by the river, then crossed the bridge into Sophia Gardens and the National Express Coach Station was my final stop.

Even though I didn’t spend that much time in Cardiff, it’s still one of the very memorable trip for me, especially the view of Cardiff Bay from Paget Road during the sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

BOURNEMOUTH: Top 10 Places to Visit

Bournemouth might not be on many people’s list when thinking about destinations in England. It’s a bit underrated. Some haven’t heard of it before and some don’t even know where it is. Well, it’s right by the Jurassic Coast, the South of England.

Bournemouth is known for it’s 7 miles of the UK’s best beach (according to TripAdvisor in 2016). It’s a perfect place for sports and outdoor lovers, with awesome countryside and buzzing nightlife.

For anyone interested, I have a list of places that you should visit while in Bournemouth and a really beautiful cycling route for you! 🚴

Top 10 Places to Visit in Bournemouth
  1. Bournemouth Parks
    • Lower Gardens
    • Central Gardens
    • Upper Gardens
  2. The Balloon
  3. The Bourne River
  4. Coy Pond
  5. Meyrick Park
  6. St. Peter’s Church
  7. Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff
  8. Bournemouth Beach and Pier
  9. Boscombe Beach and Pier
  10. Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens

I. Bournemouth Parks

Bournemouth Parks are separated into 3 areas, the Lower Gardens, Central Gardens and Upper Gardens. These 3 areas are different and each has their own vibes. Though, all of them are perfect for a sweet walk, a quick cycling or for a fun picnic.

The Lower Gardens are the busiest. It’s where most of the actions happen. It’s only 2 minutes walking from the town’s square and only couple of minutes away from the beach. It’s busy with kiosks, young people out and about and there is a Mini Golf as well. ⛳️

The Central Gardens are a little quieter, with a small river along the gardens. Trees and plants here are a little taller and bigger than those in the Lower Gardens. The walk is pleasantly accompanied with beautiful pergola. Here, there is a tennis court and a playground. In the Pleasure Garden, there is a World War I memorial, scripted with beautiful notes.

The Upper Gardens are the most relaxing ones. There are 3 different garden’s theme: European, Asia and North America themes. It’s more green here and there are more to see along the way like decorations of each themed gardens, the water tower and long wooden walkways. The gardens take you more or less to Poole.

II. The Balloon

This Hot Air Balloon is one of the landmark of Bournemouth, right at the Lower Gardens. It allows you to see Bournemouth from above and it offers great views of the beach and the piers. Unfortunately, it’s not available at the moment, but hopefully, it’ll reopen soon.

III. The Bourne River

The Bourne River flows through the whole length of Bournemouth Parks and reaches the beach. The stream goes through everything, the paths, the trees and the rose beds. Throughout the parks, there are several cute falls of this stream and it’s actually a really relaxing sight.

IV. Coy Pond

Coy Pond is a Koi pond right by the end of the Upper Gardens, just a bit outside of Bournemouth. The pond is beautifully surrounded by trees around the bank and some other animals like geese and ducks. There is even a small island! It’s a perfect stop after all the traveling through those gardens. Though, if you prefer driving there, there are several parking spots available. It’s one of my most visited spot in the whole Bournemouth and Poole.

V. Meyrick Park

Meyrick Park is a large field area, with many walking and running trails, including the cross-country running trails. I was lucky enough to spot a baby fox here! 🦊

Meyrick Park is also a home to one of the biggest Golf Club in town; The Club at Meyrick Park. It’s also a home of the Oakmeadians RFC Rugby Club. It’s quite fun to watch them doing their things, especially when you have a special seat. This secret seat is by a walking trail, right behind the club.

VI. St. Peter's Church

St. Peter’s Church is right in the heart of Bournemouth. It’s a minute away from the Square, about 5 minutes from the Lower Gardens and less than 10 minutes walking from the beach. The church itself is a very elegance sight, with incredible interior. The churchyard is calmly beautiful and it is protecting the spirits of many novelists, including Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

VII. Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliffs

Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliffs offer best views of the ocean throughout the length of the beach. From the overcliff, the stunning Old Harry Rocks can be seen as well. Plus, there are many paths that lead you down to the beach.

VIII. Bournemouth Beach and Pier

Bournemouth Beach lies just underneath the overcliffs and it’s accompanied by one of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK. It’s also really clean! Good thing about the beach is that there is so much you could do. It’s great for skaters, runners, swimmers, surfers, campers, families, friends or couples. It’s also really safe and convenience, with lifeguards, free toilets and showers. The beach is perfectly decorated with colorful huts that you could rent to maximize your fun. If you want to know more about these huts, please click here. 😊

Bournemouth Pier lies beautifully by the beach and it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset! It’s stunning! It’s also not far from beach facilities and the town’s square. Also, there is so much you could do on the pier such as sipping cocktails at the Aruba Restaurant & Bar. Drinks here are nice!

IX. Boscombe Beach and Pier

Boscombe Beach and Pier is quite similar to the Bournemouth one, but it has more restaurants, cafes and sports facilities. Somehow, it’s a little quieter. Boscombe Beach is actually a perfect place for campfire during warmer nights.

X. Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens

Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens are probably the greenest and most tropical area in Bournemouth. It’s perfect for walking around, under the shade of massive trees. There are few small suspension bridges over the gardens as well.

Recommended Cycling Route

I have provided you with a cycling route that’ll take you to other places that you shouldn’t miss. It’s not difficult, but it’s quite a long distance. Though, it’s manageable within a day. So let’s just pack some snacks and drinks!

  • Bournemouth Pier
  • Boscombe Pier
  • Hengistbury Head
  • River Stour
  • New Forest National Park
  • Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
  • Ringwood
  • River Avon
  • Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

So, let’s start at Bournemouth Pier then keep going along the beach, pass Boscombe Pier and stop at the Hengistbury Head. (5 miles, 30 minutes)

From Hengistbury Head, we are heading toward Christchurch, passing the River Stour, then entering the New Forest National Park to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. (16 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes)

After spending sometime inside New Forest National Park, then we are exiting the park, heading to Ringwood, passing the River Avon, checking out the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest and then heading back to Bournemouth. (25 miles, 2 hours 30 minutes)

This route took me 9 hours, including eating, stoping to take pictures, and getting lost. I departed from Bournemouth Pier around 10 a.m. and got back into town around 6 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

BRISTOL: The City on the Rivers

Bristol is one of the cities in England that has the best mixture of culture. By that, I mean it perfectly blends the modern cultures with the older ones. Visiting Bristol will help you get a better idea of English classiness and style. Plus, Bristol is a perfect blend of parks, waterfronts, architectures, and downtown areas.

There are many areas in Bristol to explore, so to make it easier, I come up with a list of where to go in each areas. It’s possible to walk within these areas and even to other areas. Though, to go from one end to the other could take a while because not all these spots are clustered in a short walking distance.

I. Area around the Suspension Bridge

All the main highlights of Bristol are in this area. You got Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve that you could enjoy some shades while having a picnic or take a walk around the park. There are few walking trails, starting from 1 kilometre to no more than 3 kilometres.

Once you get out of the woods, the next stop is Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a landmark of Bristol since Victorian time! You might wanna walk across the bridge and have a look at the Avon George that separates the forest and Hotwell Road.

Once you cross the bridge, Clifton Observatory is near. Paying 4 GBP for full access and you’ll be able to relax around the hill, try the Camera Obscura that projects the surrounding view inside the dark room and follow the tunnel into Giant’s Cave, which leads down to the cave balcony that is somehow almost 80 metres above the Avon George. At this cliff face, you’ll get a picturesque view of the bridge and the river. To be honest, it’s one of the most impressive experience in Bristol for me, because it’s so mysterious and adventurous.

Down the hill of Clifton Observatory, there is Christ Church, Clifton Down. It’s a small church with a 65 metres steeple and surrounded by nice green area.

II. Area around the Brandon Hill

  • Brandon Hill
  • Cabot Tower
  • Wills Memorial Building

Brandon Hill is the oldest park in Bristol. It also comes with a small nature reserve. It’s the most popular picnic spot in Bristol and in some areas of the park, you could have a BBQ or just simply enjoy an ice-cream while admiring the view.

At the peak of the hill, stands the Cabot Tower. Even if you are lost walking around the hill, you’d still be able to spot this tower. You could go inside the tower and climb to the top for best views in Bristol. It offers you the view of the Bradford Hill, the waterfront and the downtown area. From the top of the tower, you could also see College Green, University of Bristol. But what’s outstanding is the Wills Memorial Building.

III. Area close to the River

  • Bristol Cathedral
  • Bristol Harbour
    • Hannover Quay
    • Spike Island
    • Brunel’s SS Great Britain
    • Waterfront Square
    • The Harbourside Market
  • Christmas Steps
  • St Nicholas Market

Now we are moving closer to the waterfront, but before we go there, let’s stop at the Bristol Cathedral, which is only 10 minutes walking from Brandon Hill. Bristol Cathedral has one of the finest interior. It’s beautifully designed with vaulting and windows. There is the Elder Lady Chapel, which was built in the 13th century. Then there is the Chapter House, which has a really complex and beautiful ceiling. And there are the choirs’ organs that stand out in the hall.

Just behind the cathedral, take the Cathedral Walk and follow the trail down the Hannover Quay. You’ll have the Spike Island in front of you. You’ll also be able to spot the magnificent Brunel’s SS Great Britain, a museum ship in a dry dock. Around this area, you’ll see the blended culture of houseboat lifestyles and colorful houses facing the river. To get a better look, you can take a ferry ride along the River Avon.

I’d recommend Bristol Ferry Boats. Their fares start at 1.50 GBP and it’s really convenience if you wanna go to some of these tourist attractions: Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Millennium Square, Castle Park and Temple Meads.

Spend some time in this area and you might share the same perspective of Bristol as a mixture of older and modern cultures. There are old bars, harbourside houses, modern pubs and you’ll see teens and elders relaxing just next to the river.

You could walk to Waterfront Square and cross the Pero’s Bridge or eat at the Harbourside Market. About 10 minutes walking from the market, you’ll reach one of the very historic street of Bristol, the Christmas Steps. It holds a great culture and it looks like a romantic movie setting. There are many cute shops here, including potteries, arts, furnitures and clothes.

There is one more market in this area and it is one of the best markets in England; the St Nicholas Market. Located in the middle of Bristol’s old city and with the ambience of over 50 food stalls, this is a perfect place to eat.

IV. Temple Meads Area
  • St Philip and St Jacob Church (Pip ‘n’ Jay)
  • Temple Church (Holy Cross Church)
  • St Mary Redcliffe
  • Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station

Within the Temple Meads area, there are so much to see, but the places you shouldn’t miss are as follow. Firstly, the St Philip and St Jacob Church or what locals call Pip ‘n’ Jay, is one of the older churches in Bristol.

Next, just across the Temple Bridge is the Temple Church or the Holy Cross Church. It’s a ruined church and what remains is the result of the bombing during World  War II. You can still see the vaulting, some memorials and bases of the pillars. Though, what’s interesting is the Leaning Tower.

Not far, is the most famous Parish Church in England, St Mary Redcliffe. This 800-year-old church is a tallest building in Bristol, with beautiful stained glass, unique Lady Chapel and nice organ. It’s stunning!

 

 

 

 

 

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