Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Visiting Cardiff, and a Tour of South Wales

This was another day out with vague plans made. The one essential feature, though, was to visit the Doctor Who Experience on Cardiff Bay. It's closing in September, and there are a few things that are only available through the official shop there, so I was on a mission to get what I could.
This meant getting up at the crack of dawn for the first bus into Brecon, where I changed for the T4 to Cardiff. It's a nice run down, and I can do it all on one Explorer ticket, which costs £7.90. In Cardiff, I paused for a coffee at the Rendezvous Café in Queen's Arcade, and then got another bus down to the Bay - there was supposed to be a bus stop by the railway station, but I couldn't find it, so I went to the end of St Mary Street and found the bus stop there - the number 6 that I caught didn't do change, but I managed to scrabble the £1.80 out of the bottom of my purse and drop it in the hopper As we went round the railway station, I saw the bus stop I'd been looking for on the other side. There were quite a few well-dressed people on the bus, including one lady in a gorgeous deep blue and gold sari - I wondered if they were going to a wedding or something similar.
The bus dropped me right outside the Doctor Who Experience, a big hangar-like building painted Tardis blue. I didn't have time to do the Experience tour, so I passed the Lego dalek, and the three daleks from the series, and went up the stairs to the shop.
I bought quite a lot....
Then I walked along the edge of the Bay, past the Norwegian church (and café and art gallery), to see a big crowd of people around the Millennium Centre. Many of them were wearing academic caps and gowns, and I recognised a couple of families from the bus ride. It seems it was graduation day for Cardiff University, and I saw students in their gowns all over the city centre after that.
I also visited Ianto's Shrine - the character from Torchwood (which had its secret base under the square on the Bay) who died in the mini-series Children of Earth. It's looking a little faded now, but still covers an impressive amount of wall space.
Then I got a bus back into the city centre from outside the Millennium Centre - a number 8 this time, which only cost £1.60 - and gave change.
Back in the city centre, I had intended to go to the Brewdog pub for lunch - but I'm not having a lot of luck with pubs at lunchtime at the moment, and they were closed. So I headed on to the comic shop, and Forbidden Planet, and did a bit more shopping around town. I ended up eating lunch from a Subway, at the bus stop for home.
Where I got on the wrong bus.
I didn't realise this until we were leaving Merthyr Tydfil, when I started noticing that this was not the route I had come by that morning. We went up through Dowlais, where there is a historic blast furnace, and a statue of the Trevithick steam engine. Then I noticed the road sign which pointed the way to Abergavenny.
I went up and consulted the driver. He said I could go to Abergavenny and get the X43 to Brecon. Okay, then. A little further on, we pulled into a modern little bus station, and I asked the driver where we were. "Ebbw Vale," he said, "and look - there's the T4 going back to Merthyr - it might be better if you got on that." This seemed like a good idea, so I ran down the bus station and caught the T4.
Fortunately I was in time, back in Merthyr, for the bus which got me to Brecon before the last bus back to Hay - and I'd done the entire mystery tour for not extra cost - all with my Explorer ticket!

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