We departed Aberystwyth relatively early for us, given we had to drop the car off in Cardiff before 2pm. Despite the odd bit of traffic and a Starbucks stop for Sam, we made it with an hour to spare. I'd picked up a hostel that was well reviewed and close to the Avis return point, and we were able to walk to it in under two minutes.
After getting sorted at the front desk, which is actually a rather large bar area, we headed upstairs to our room. It's a private twin, but shared bathrooms. We do have a sink in our room, which is nice, but Wi-Fi is only in the lobby. Still, I have a nice view out the window to the river. We're quite centrally located, with the Cardiff Castle just five minutes around the corner, and the large pedestrian malls and arcades in easy reach.
Once I'd dropped off my bag, I headed out to see the town. I grabbed a quick bite to eat from a cafe run by a friendly couple whose I accent I struggled to place. They sounded suspiciously like New Zealanders, but then they mentioned Johannesburg. Ah, South African. I headed out and enjoyed my lunch in the sunshine, before wandering through the arcades. The city is known for them, apparently, and you can see why. Gorgeous old shops in little avenues covered with glass roofs.
In the little little maze of covered streets, I found a little record shop called, I think, Stipplers. It is officially recognised as the oldest record store in the world, having opened in the 1800s. It has that great eclectic subculture feel, with crowded shelves and the feeling that behind every vinyl sleeve or CD case hides a gem waiting to be uncovered. I enjoy browsing these sorts of places and listening at the demo stations - you get a taste of all the little up and coming bands you can't access overseas. I took down a lot of names on my phone to look up later, and when the the woman at the desk was being helpful in trying to recommend me things, I kind of had to buy a CD even though I can't get it onto my iPhone while I'm away. Sounded good though.
Though the afternoon was still young, I decided I would save the Castle for a day when I'd have the time to explore it properly. I headed instead for the bay area. This was home to a few sights I was excited to nerd out at. The first was Roald Dahl Plass, otherwise known as The Rift, in Doctor Who lore. Its striking water feature was sadly plastered with strawberries for an ad campaign, and the square itself was barricaded off in preparation for a function. It wasn't the pristine cinematic view you get on TV, in other words, but it was cool nonetheless.
It was more impressive down on the waterfront. You can walk the little dock area that leads up to the supposed entrance to Torchwood, though there is no shop there in real life. What is actually there is a huge memorial to Ianto that fans have made. The wall at the end is completely covered in photos, dedications, flowers, and more. It's pretty insane and yet I couldn't stop smiling at it. It's strangely heartwarming to see how much a fictional character means to some people. There was an actual plaque from the actual quay management authority memorialising him, and a thank you note from fans to the management thanking them for not tearing everything down. Awesome.
I kept winding my way around the bay, and up towards the hostel again. After relaxing for a little while, I left to get dinner. I stumbled across an Italian place that looked popular and was able to get a table. The host was kind enough to press for an order quickly in order to get mine out before a couple of large tables. After a nice ragu, and some friendly but sporadic service due to being very understaffed for a two storey restaurant, I returned. Tomorrow, the Doctor Who fest continues with a bus tour to several of the filming locations. I have a feeling I did quite a few today, but we'll see if it's worth it.