Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wales Old and New

So, we reached Wales none too worse for the wear. Our flight was a bit delayed, so we had to run...full catch our connection. But, we made it. We flew on American Airlines' new 777, which had movies and games in each seat back, so the kids were well entertained. The transfer from the airport was simple...Heathrow Express train in from the airport in London and hop a train to Cardiff. No problems there and as always the kids loved watching the fields, sheep and castles drift past the window.

Cardiff is a wonderful city. Vast modern pedestrian areas lined with shops and sidewalk cafes are dotted with tiny 19th century arcades and ancient churches. A real mix of old and new. The kids had a ball exploring Cardiff Castle, pretending to be knights scaling the castle keep, and going on the castle's treasure hunt for animals in each room. A short drive outside Cardiff took us to Welsh Hawking Center, where the kids had a chance to pet a three week old owl and fly hawks. Seeing a hawk, almost as big as they are, land on their leather clad arm in the green fields of an old farm, while a young, modern chap relayed the history of hawking was just brilliant. Again, very much a mix of old and new. Nearby, we hit the beach...not like the ones they are used to at home. This one was filled with small stones instead of sand and is famous for its fossils. It seems every other rock had a clam or small animal imprint on it. Jeremy's pockets were loaded down with souvenirs.

Next day, we learned more about the fossils at the National Museum, which has extensive exhibits on Welsh geography. Nathan loved the dinosaur room with its sound effects and mechanical displays, while Seamus was agape at the jewel trip he's looking for geodes instead of fossils!

The Roman ruins in Caerleon let the kids use their gladiator souvenirs (bought at Cardiff Castle, which also has a history as a Roman fort)as they ran through the tunnels previously used by gladiators and lions and had sword fights on the auditorium floor.

The Big Pit was a big hit! After kitting up with a hard hat and light, we traveled almost 300 ft. underground to check out the old coal mine that is such a big part of Welsh history. The kids were suprised to learn about kids their age that worked the mines back in the 19th century (with no DS or television to boot!) and were excited to mine their own bits of coal...more souvenirs for Jeremy's pockets (his jacket must weigh a good 10 lbs now!). The Big Pit mining museum was very impressive as well...with interactive displays using light and surround sound that enthralled the kids!

Today, we're off to explore the natural side of Wales with a climb through the National Showcaves and a hike around Brecon Beacons National Park. Stay tuned for more from beautiful Wales.

Ditulis Oleh : ganden boy // 3:11 AM


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