There’s going to be a theme to this trip that will become very apparent – if it hasn’t all ready. Traveling can be expensive. Europe is amazing, but getting there from Canada will cost you. Sometimes you’ve got enough money to get you there and pay for a bit of food and a few souvenirs, but not much else. Sometimes you’ve got money but it’s got to go towards the other trip that you planned which begins two weeks after this trip ends (travel junkie, yup that’s me). Sometimes you just don’t feel like shelling out a lot of money for stuff, especially when it’s still early on and you’ve got 3 more countries to visit.
TLDR: We didn’t go inside Cardiff Castle.
My main defense in this is that I didn’t think we’d have the time to visit. We had about 24 hours in Cardiff, the castle would be closed for about 15 of them, and out of the 8 possible hours we could visit, we were otherwise occupied for at least 4 of them. Not a lot of time, when you boil it down. So I didn’t research it, which means that I didn’t find anything that would interest me about visiting it.
I didn’t realize how cool the Keep looks or how pretty the ceiling in the Arab Room was or that there were air raid shelter tunnels. Call me weird (not right now) but I like stonework, and Castles are prime examples of cool stonework.
But the entrance fee to Cardiff Castle was a whole £11 (we would later learn that this is cheap for a castle). We were still tired after traveling from Halifax to Philadelphia to London to Bath to Cardiff in the past 3 days. It was timing and it sucked.
One thing we did do, however was walk along the Animal Wall. Not only did it not cost us anything, but it was viewable after 5pm.
It’s basically what it sounds like – a wall with carvings of animals along it. It was designed by William Burges for the 3rd Marquis of Bute, who personally okayed every animal. The animals are in various forms of “weathering” (the anteater even lost his nose a couple of times), depending on what’s been restored.
The carvings are nice to look at and the detail on some is crazy (especially around the paws and claws). You can even play “What the hell is that?”, as you try to figure out what animal each carving is supposed to be. (If you need to cheat, there’s a guide somewhere nearby.)
Back when Cardiff widened Castle Street they moved the whole wall to the West and then added a bunch of new animals (I’m assuming to make up for the inconvenience). The guide should also tell you which ones were added later. I don’t remember, so you’ll have to figure it out for yourself (I’m such a horrible travel writer).
I like to think that if the castle was in peril the stone animals would awaken and attack. They would bite and claw, ripping the enemy to shreds. Then, when the castle was safe once again, they would go back to their posts and rest. That would be awesome.