May 12

 Bright and early this morning the group headed to the national rail station one last time, this time our destination being Cardiff, Wales. 

Once in Wales we took the Hop On- Hop Off city tour where we were able to learn important information pertaining to the cities vast history. We were lucky enough to have a live commentator on the bus pointing out different historical features.
Cardiff Castle is one of the most amazing and richly complex sites, with a story that spans over 2,000 years. The Castle you see today, in the heart of the capital city, is at once a Roman fort, an impressive Norman castle and an extraordinary Victorian Gothic fantasy palace, created for one of the world’s richest men.
For nearly 900 years, Cardiff Castle’s Roman past remained hidden and forgotten and was only discovered in 1888 when the 3rd Marquess of Bute decided to build a new tower and his workmen discovered the remains of  the Roman fort.  Remains of the Roman Wall can be seen today in the Interpretation Centre.

While in the castle grounds we were able to explore the visitor center with a museum in the lower level, where of course some of the group members dressed in appropriate time period apparel!

 We were able to see the ultimate Victorian medieval dream world, see the spectacular fairy-tale apartments, rich with murals, gilding and elaborate wood carvings, stained glass and marble, created by art-architect William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute. Depicted in the tiles in the children's room  were different fairytales of the time period. The picture to the right is of Beauty and the Beast. The picture below is the mantle in the banquet hall depicting the 12th century Robert the Consul setting off on one of his exploits. 

At the end of our tour inside the castle we were able to explore the castle grounds, including a hike to the top of the Keep at Cardiff. 
The twelve-sided Keep at Cardiff is the finest in Wales and is known as a ‘shell’ keep. Its outer walls provided a shell for smaller buildings within it. From the top of the Keep the panoramic views of the city are breath-taking and to the north you can see as far as Castell Coch.  There are approximately 50 steep stone steps leading to the Keep entrance and further steps to reach the viewing platform. 

 We then made our way back to London where we would venture to Covent Gardens for dinner. After dinner we headed to the Apollo theatre to watch the play The Audience, starring Kristin Scott Thomas as Queen Elizabeth II.

 For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace, a meeting like no other in British public life, it is private. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. The Audience breaks this contract of silence and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen. From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional – sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. From young mother to grandmother, these private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while she remains constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister.
We finished off the night with a group photo at Piccadilly Circus Square! 

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