Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cardiff, Wales - The Dr. Who Experience

One of the reasons I wanted to bring the kids over to Europe was to show them all the things I love over there. Since none of them had ever been before, I didn't expect them to have any requests outside of famous landmarks. 

When Adrienne asked if we'd be going to Wales, I told her we just didn't have time to add another country to our agenda. But when she mentioned the Dr. Who Experience was in Cardiff, I had to tell her that we could easily get there. I knew she, Donovan and Peri were all huge fans of the show and I was taking them to Bath, anyway. Cardiff was just a couple of hours away on a train.

The plan was that we would stay one night, see the Who Experience in the morning, then train it to Bath in the afternoon. So I booked the flights from Paris to Cardiff.

The only problem was, I didn't know that the first cricket match in the most important series of the sport was being held that day in Cardiff. Even I had heard of the Ashes. I just didn't know it was starting in Cardiff the very day we wanted to go stay there. 

For days, I couldn't find a room under $300. I was considering just ditching the plane tickets and figuring an alternative plan. Just a couple of days before we were scheduled to leave, a private hostel room popped up. It was far enough under $200 that I took it. Although Adrienne had an aversion to hostels, she agreed to give it a shot, under the circumstances.

Well, the YHA in Cardiff turned out to be the nicest hostel I've ever stayed in. And the private room was as nice as any 3 star hotel. The dining downstairs was super cheap and plentiful, we ate every  meal there and stuffed ourselves silly. Looked and tasted great, too.

So, we got in, taxied to the hostel, had a great dinner and enjoyed the rest of the evening in our lovely room. Checkout was fairly early the next morning, but that wasn't a problem. We wanted to get the Dr. Who deal done so we could get back to England before it got too late.

We left our bags in the lockers of the locked luggage room, and off we went. I have to say, it is an excellent attraction. I have never watched so much as an episode of the show, have only the slightest knowledge about it, and I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

No photos are allowed on the tour, so we have nothing to show from that. But it was a lot of fun; interesting, just the slightest bit scary and full of laughs.

The tour let out into an exhibition of items from the very earliest episodes of Dr. Who right up to the present. This spiffy yellow car is from 1970.

Many, many of the exhibits were just incredibly gruesome, even up close. I can only imagine how they came across on a TV screen.

But the quality was obvious everywhere; the wardrobe, props, every single thing on display.

Are these Daleks? These must be Daleks, there were a million of them.

But like I said, you didn't even need to know what things were in order to appreciate them. There were so many wonderful things.

Some of the items had signs in front, with information about them. They were written in both English and Welsh.

The attraction was a huge success. Adrienne and the kids were over the moon. Donovan was dressed like one of the Doctors, and that was instantly recognized by several people there, both staff and visitors.

I handed my phone over to Peri, and she took a million photos, including a handful of selfies. She walked around with a huge smile on her face, always calling attention to the things she recognized and loved.

Dr. Who is actually filmed here, and the real Tardis is right outside the exhibition. But we weren't allowed to go near it.

Cardiff is a lovely city. It has fabulous buildings...

...and lovely green spaces.

It's a shame we didn't get to see more of it. When the passport control agent asked why we had come to Wales, we told him it was to see the Dr. Who Experience, and he laughed. "At least you're honest about it," he said.

I actually felt kind of bad. But they must be making a ton of money on that place, and we definitely did our share for the economy. So the rest of the country will just have to wait.

It was absolutely one of the most fun things we did on the trip, so certainly worth all the extra effort we made to spend one night in Wales.

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