April 26, 2013
Today was a great day. Everyone in the program traveled to Cardiff for two nights. We all had a great time together, and we enjoy spending time with our program director. Our first stop was Hereford Cathedral with Mappa Mundi. The Mappa Mundi is known as a medieval time treasure of the world. It was created in the 13th century to portray the spiritual world. It was drawn on calf skin, and the center of the world was Jerusalem. It was at one time very colorful and has more than 500 drawings of towns, events, animals and so on. Christopher de Hamel, a leading authority on medieval manuscripts, has said of the Mappa Mundi, ‘… it is without parallel the most important and most celebrated medieval map in any form, the most remarkable illustrated English manuscript of any kind, and certainly the greatest extant thirteenth-century pictorial manuscript.’
Next we visited the Tintern Abbey. This church was founded in the year 1131. It is found on the River Wye that creates the border between England and Wales. These ruins are magnificent in their own way and tell many stories of the past. This building was the first Cistercian building in Wales. It was first colonized by monks, and then its community grew significantly. It was a very prosperous and flourishing place in Wales. It was also not harmed in the wars with Edward II. Today, it is a very romantic and majestic place, standing at the bottom of massive, historic ruins. It was quite different than visiting a cathedral, but not of lesser importance by any means.
For dinner, we found a close fish ‘n chips shop. Afterwards, we strolled around Cardiff Park and then the city. We relaxed in the hostel the rest of the night. We needed a good night’s rest for Saturday!
April 27, 2013
Today we visited the Cardiff Castle, the Millennium Stadium and the Museum of Welsh life. It was a brilliant day that was informative, interactive, and fun.
Cardiff Castle was different than any other I have seen thus far. I really liked our tour guide, and I was able to see inside the dining room, children’s rooms, and more of the royal house and the décor. I really enjoyed seeing not only the architecture, but what the furniture looked like and how they set up the rooms and seeing the way they lived. There were interesting stories behind a lot of the rooms and corners that I would not have noticed without our tour guide. I saw exquisite interiors with stained glass, marble, oak, wood carvings and gardens. After the guided tour I walked around for another hour. This castle has beautiful parkland with towers that I climbed. It has a Roman fort that I explored that was built in 50 AD, and the ruins of the wall can be seen, too.
We were now off to the guided tour at the Millennium Stadium. I was surprised how much I enjoyed my time there. I am not much of a rugby fan, but I was intrigued by this stadium and the history behind it. We were able to see the conference rooms, the practice rooms and prep rooms. We walked out to the stadium from their locker room with the game music playing, which was neat. My favorite part of the tour was sitting in the chair the Queen sat in for the opening game. This stadium can seat around 70,000 people and is the second largest stadium in the world with a fully retractable roof.
St. Fagans Museum was one of my favorites thus far. It is an open-air museum that consists of over 100 acres of parkland. It opened in 1948 and exhibits the lifestyle and culture of the Welsh people. It has over thirty buildings from various places in Wales, as well as St. Fagans Castle. This castle is a 16th century Elizabethan manor house. There are also houses, a farm, a school, a chapel, and blacksmith shops. While we were there I visited the blacksmith shop, where a man was making candle stick holders in the fire. I also bought homemade bread and goods from the Welsh bakery that were delicious.
That night we relaxed with some newly-made friends in the hostel, making dinner with our new Welsh bread.
April 28, 2013
The Museums and Galleries of Wales we visited were diverse and interesting. There were many different exhibits and art galleries. It opened in 1927, and we visited the war memorial as well. My favorite exhibit explained the stories of Wales and the development since the Neaderthals. It had neat archeological finds, too. It took me on a 4,600 million journey. It had mammoths and dinosaur displays that were fun.
The art collection is Europe’s finest behind Paris’. It has five hundred years of paintings and more. It has ceramics, paintings, and sculptures. I was able to see great diversity, from historic to contemporary paintings.
We spent lunchtime and the afternoon in Cardiff Bay. I visited shops and the Senedd building, and walked along the harbor. Cardiff was originally a major world transport for coal and iron. After that industry started declining, Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was set up to regenerate this area. Now this area is the most innovative urban development in all of Europe, so it is now a city of dynamism and splendor.