Friday, November 4, 2011

Cardiff, Take Three (guest blog)

Monday, October 31st - Happy Halloween! From Cardiff Wales

After Chris woke up and went off to a meeting, I was able to wander around the city.   First I must say that the Park Place Hotel had the best shower and bathroom of all the places I have stayed this trip.   Usually I am trying to figure out how to get hot water at all, or it trickles like a light rainshower and you can't get the shampoo out of your hair.  This shower was brilliant!  So I went out on the town deciding that instead of doing the normal touristy things, I would go towards my own personal interests...

The City Hall.  There is a street just across from our hotel, separated by a lovely english garden park of municipal buildings.  The Law of Courts, the City Hall and the Cardiff Museum.  I passed up touring the Castle to see the actual seats of government.  I freely admit my geekiness.

The Law of Courts.  It is too beautiful compared to our own Circuit Court but it functions much the same.   The Crown Court handles appeals from decisions of magistrates; sentencing of defendants committed from magistrates’ courts, jury trials, and the sentencing of those who are convicted in the Crown Court, either after trial or on pleading guilty.  It would be like our Circuit court just handling criminal cases.  I was however able to watch a proceeding which all of Chris's coworkers were amazed was even available.  It was like going to work every morning, walking through a metal detector and then surrendering my camera.  Therefore, I do not have any pictures of the courtroom.  The major differences were that the lawyers all wore ridiculous wigs and you cannot turn your back to the judge.  You also must bow to him everytime you exit.  Imagine trying to enforce that with American lawyers.

This is the park when you cross to the municipal buildings.  It started to rain but was not very cold.  I cannot say how happy I was to tour these buildings.  Again, I totally recognize my geekiness.

The front step of the Crown Court.  Very different from home, although watching some of the people reminded me of the porch on break.

This statue is dedicated to the polish soldiers who fought in WWII.  Not sure why it was there but I love the welsh lion on all the columns.

This statue is in the entrance to Cardiff City Hall.  This building is so absolutely brilliant.  It is so much more grandiose than our own idea of city government, opened in 1906.

This is the marble hall.  You walk up a flight of stairs to get to the assembly room and pass through this amazing gallery of marble pillars and statues.

This is the Chamber Council which doesn't actually meet here anymore.  Hence the snooty response when I asked if there was anything going on today, on a Monday in a municipal building. 
The building is now usually rented out for weddings and other meetings.

Next door is the Cardiff Natural History Museum.  Unfortunately it was closed on Mondays.  Sooo, time to get a light lunch and call the office to check in.  Then off to get completely lost before finding the great pub Chris took me to the day before.

The City Arms.  Great local ales.  Felt very embarrassed when I asked for the "welsh irish stout".  That's what happens when you come home from Ireland on Sunday morning and then get to Cardiff on Sunday night.  It was still deliciious.  Brains welsh stout if you are wondering.
It is a great place to spend an afternoon reading a book sipping a stout.  I have to say I was reading "The Dance with Dragons" and not only do I have knots in my kneck from carrying the 1000 page hardcover but it is completely disappointing.  I want a hero or vengence or something, instead my favorite characters keep dieing.  So now I will wait for volume 6 to see if that will fulfill my idea of justice. Now I will drown my sorrows in delicious beer.

Chris met me at the City Arms after his meetings and then we walked back through the city on our way to dinner.  I wish I had more time in Wales and Cardiff, although they need to have more t-shirt or Welsh memorabilia shops so I can bring more gifts home.  Chris disagrees.

On the way back to the hotel, we took a picture of this wonderful park that separates our hotel and the municipal buildings.  I totally want to hire someone to make a maze at our house (I would love to see how Nola and Jackson would react).
After a nice dinner at a microbrewery, we headed back to the hotel and then home the next day for some rest.  We are heading to London tomorrow to tour the goverment buildings and then looking for some effigys to burn for Guy Fawkes day (they call it bonfire day over here).  I have never seen an effigy burning so it will be a new experience.  Then off to the Pink Punter for some drinks with our fav bartender Jane before we catch a few minutes of shuteye before we have to head to the airport Sunday morning.  I am sure Chris will post our pics from Saturday but I will be home by then missing him terribly.  Next stop....Chirstmas with all our family and friends.

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