Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, Wales August 2013

by Emma Bumpus on September 6, 2013

Whoever said “variety is the spice of life” must have been swinging from the celestial rafters of Cardiff! Vivaciously active and visually appealing, including everything to please the family, takes careertraveller and co to a dynamic jewel of a waterfront.

Multi coloured buildings, notable Heltar skeltar and, shimmering harbour with pulsating hints of Extreme Sailing fill the car with bank holiday “festival” euphoria, giving Cardiff Bay an immediate ‘red carpet’ travel junkie seal of approval!

Momentarily dazzled by our gem rock (stone is too inappropriate) home for the next 24 hours stands the flamboyant glass flagship St Davids Hotel & Spa, Cardiff’s first 5 star hotel. Designed by architect Patrick Davies this glittering glass “cruise liner” like masterpiece with flying gull-wing roof enhances the panorama of this stunning landmark, which oozes Riviera – like sensations of a cosmopolitan nature!

A lover of hotel lobbies, this hotel is a careertraveller hit with its spaciously fashionable and contemporary atrium, an infinite stairway to luxury, all 142 rooms!

Room or rather, master suite 608 on the sixth floor, is a spectacular insight to the hotel’s ingenious nautical design that epitomises Cardiff’ harbour’s naval history and 360 degree panoramic welsh landscape. Sight of Land Rover’s Extreme Sailing catamarans in full flight takes the hungry eye from nearby Penarth and Cardiff Bay’s verdant Wetland Reserve to quayside fun fair attractions from our generous deck style balcony. Absolutely spot on!

A teasing breeze past the Thalgo and Espa award winning hydrotherapy Marine Spa with swan neck fountains is a turquoise escape for later as we take a 2 minute stroll to Mermaid Quay to savour the Cardiff Harbour Festival delights. In a miasma of eclectic attractions ranging from urban beach and fun fair to plethora of international eateries and continental market, we are engulfed in a fiesta of trendy waterfront entertainment. Fabulous!

Surrounding chic shops overlooked by stylishly modern marina apartments add a splash of sophistication to this development, which previously called Tiger Bay, is Wales oldest multi ethnic community and birthplace of Shirley Bassey!

Central to the bay is the historically grandiose Pierhead Building, whose Grade One listed French-gothic Renaissance architecture details gargoyles, distinctively glazed terracotta bricks and an 1897 restored ‘Big Ben’ of Wales! We cannot miss the adjacent National Assembly Building educational visitor Centre or Senedd, whose imposing stature symbolises democracy and devolution in Wales.

Quayside we observe the abstract multifaceted Merchant Seafarers’ War Memorial, which designed and sculptured by Brian fell commemorates “ The Merchant Seafarers From The Ports of Barry, Penarth, Cardiff Who Died In Times Of war”.

Playfully replenished the kids get their moment at Techniquest, a purpose built science discovery centre oozing education amidst an array of over 160 interactive exhibits, designed to stimulate STEM learning. Amidst a planet of wonder, we discover space, electricity, oxygen and the circulatory system within the form of plasma spheres, balloons, bubbles and tubes, adding just another cultural dimension to Cardiff Bay.

Flight Fantastic delivers a vibrant show of controlled experiments that thrill the senses inside a theatre of science. Wonderfully fun and illuminating, we experience the forces of gravity in relation to chemistry, physics and mankind. Men in lab coats, popping balloons and audience interaction sets this show alight with big bangs, gases and flying planes!

No weekend could finish perfectly without an intergalactic visit to the Dr Who Experience museum of an attraction, designed to thrill, surprise and educate. A brief film about the experience sets the tone for our science fiction journey of bespoke costumes, props and sensations that display the detail and expertise behind television and of course DR Who himself!

Craftily designed, we seemingly walk into the mysterious Tardis where we time travel with Doctors’ collections, including light chamber, aquatic cleaning robot and Van Gogh painting, depicting the destruction of the Tardis. Cunningly crafted we experience the control room at the mercy of an intricate moving console, which stimulates play via a variety of buttons, lights and navigational instructions galore.

Like magic we are transported back in time where we encounter all eleven doctors from William Hartnell to Matt Smith in genuine costume attire! Their companions, including K9, Kylie Minogue and Sarah Jane Smith prepare us for the Cybermen, Daleks and Monster Zone; a scintillating insight to the world of visual effects and craftsmanship behind The Silence, Zygons and Ice Warriors.

Our experience lingers in the vibrant Dr Who shop, where amongst plentiful 50th Anniversary memorabilia we indulge in the words of Matt Smith “Time Travel is such a magic concept”. Journey complete!

Further details of The St David’s Hotel and Spa, Techniquest,Dr Who Experience and Visit Wales can be found on the following websites:
The St David’s Hotel and Spa
Techniquest
Dr Who Experience
Visit Wales

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