5 Things Whovians MUST DO in Cardiff, Wales
If you're a Whovian that is planning a trip to the U.K., you NEED to read this...
In August, 2012, I received the surprise of my life when my roommate invited me to go with her and her family to the United Kingdom for a 10-day trip in October of that year. Although they had been planning it for a while, I did not know that I would be invited to go along with them until the day before me and that same roommate were due to go to Vancouver, Canada, for a trip.
In October, after we had flown from Canada to England, we all piled into a rental van to travel across England, Wales, and Scotland. Although we only spent two days in Cardiff, Wales, my roommate and I did as much as we could that was Doctor Who related. Because of such an amazing experience, I am going to share with you 5 things Whovians MUST DO in Cardiff, Wales:
(Intro image Â© MMWoodward)
1: Go to the Doctor Who Experience.
(To learn more about the Doctor Who Experience, including ticket prices, hours of operation, exact address, and more, please visit the official Doctor Who Experience website.)
My Experience at the Doctor Who Experience:
When my roommate's family asked me if I wanted to do anything on the trip, pretty much my only response was, "I'd really like to go to the Doctor Who Experience." Luckily for me, even though I was a late addition to the trip, they had no issues with fulfilling this wish, and especially since it was my roommate's as well.
Although the rest of the family passed on the outing, my roommate and I arrived at the Doctor Who Experience before it even opened to make sure that we'd get to enjoy ourselves. Because it was first thing in the morning and off season, we had no trouble with getting tickets. We were also part of the first group that entered the experience.
I loved the experience, and it's definitely one of the top things to do for Whovians in Cardiff. I felt just a tad silly at first but was quickly put at ease when I saw that there was a mix of people in the group of varying ages. I was even happier to see other adults there that obviously did not have children either.
The experience itself was quite fun as you helped the 11th Doctor (as played by Matt Smith) out of quite the predicament. I will not go into much detail about exactly what happened since I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
When the experience was done, we were then allowed to go through an exhibit, which was pretty neat. The exhibit had replicas of the inside of two different TARDISes, as well as the actual 9th Doctor TARDIS (as seen in the picture I used for the introduction). You could also see old costumes, get your picture taken, walk like a Cyberman, press a special coin, and more.
After we were done with the exhibit, we then went through the Doctor Who Experience Store. While the selection was fairly decent, I was disappointed in the lack of 10th Doctor (as played by David Tennant) merchandise. However, I still bought a TARDIS keychain and some buttons while my roommate bought the Series 1 DVD Box Set. Yet, remember that if you buy the DVDs, the Region is different and will not play on North American DVD players. Fortunately, my roommate just wanted it to watch on her computer, and it plays fine as long as you change the computer settings.
Once we were all done, we stopped by the cafÃ© within the building and enjoyed some chocolate wands, which was a nice little way to end the experience.
Merchandise similar to those sold in the Doctor Who Experience Shop:
We have four of five of these items in our household... plus so much more. I just can't get enough of the Doctor (especially the 10th).
2: Take the Doctor Who Cardiff Bus Tour [Unofficial].
(To learn more about the Doctor Who Cardiff Bus Tour [Unofficial], including tour prices, hours of operation, exact address, and more, please visit the Brit Movie Tours website.)
My Experience on the Doctor Who Cardiff Bus Tour [Unofficial]:
I really enjoyed the tour, which lasted about 4 to 5 hours, if I remember correctly. I know we went a little bit over the time limit because Matt, our tour guide, had commented on it. All of the locations that we were taken to were easily recognizable and made me feel giddy for days.
The tour began at the Cardiff Castle and the lot of us Whovians piled onto a bus. We were then driven around and outside of Cardiff to visit various locations used in Doctor Who. The tour guide was also able to give us plenty of tidbits about filming, and especially since he was an extra on several episodes. Although it was sometimes a bit off-putting to hear him talk so much about himself as opposed to really engage with his group, I still enjoyed his stories.
I don't want to give away too much about the tour because I'd hate to spoil the surprise. However, just be sure to bring a water bottle, a cell phone (in case you get separated), and dress appropriately since there is a certain amount of walking involved. Also, be prepared to have a bit of fun when the tour guide asks you to act out scenes at different locations, like I did in the video below!
Acting Out a Skit During the Doctor Who Cardiff Bus Tour [Unofficial]:
I'm the obviously Canadian one...
3: Visit the Ianto Jones Shrine. - (SPOILERS! Do NOT read this section if you haven't watched Torchwood but intend to!)
My Experience at the Ianto Jones Shrine:
Located on the docks of Cardiff Bay (Bae Caerdydd), the wall that portrayed the front to the fictional Torchwood Hub is now home to a fan-made memorial. The memorial is dedicated to Ianto Jones (as played by Gareth David-Lloyd), a character that died during the course of the show. Even though other characters have died as well, Ianto's death in particular struck a chord with Torchwood fans that lobbied to have him written back into the show.
Although this location is part of the Doctor Who Cardiff Bus Tour [Unofficial], if you happen to not take the tour, you must stop by the memorial. Once you are done paying your respects, you can then spend the rest of your time walking around the docks. When I first stepped onto the docks, it instantly made me remember the scene in the Torchwood episode, "A Day in the Death," where Owen Harper (as played by Burn Gorman) ran down a dock and jumped into the water in an attempt to drown himself.
Cheery thoughts, huh? But if you're a Torchwood fan, you know it's the rather dark side to Doctor Who.
While you are down on the docks, you can also see the restaurant that the 9th Doctor (as played by Christopher Eccleston) took Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen (as played by Annette Badland) in the episode, "Boom Town." However, it's apparently a rather pricey establishment.
Although you can't miss it, be sure to stop by the Wales Millennium Centre (Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru) and see the fountain column (as featured in the picture). As you know, in the Torchwood series, the fountain column is on top of the Hub and has a secret entrance down into it. Unfortunately, I couldn't stand on the tile because people were busy setting up for a marathon and had the area blocked off. However, apparently the tile is not hard to spot, though, because pieces of it have been chipped away by fans in the past.
Need to catch up on the Torchwood series? Now's your chance!
I love the Torchwood series, even if it took me two or three episodes to initially get into it. Just be prepared for more adult themes than you're used to when compared to Doctor Who.
4: Grab a Drink at Bar Cwtch. - (Only if you are of legal drinking age!)
(To learn more about Bar Cwtch, including the menu, cocktail list, hours of operation, exact address, and more, please visit the Jolyons website.)
My Experience at Bar Cwtch:
Located in the basement under Jolyon's Hotel by Cardiff Bay, Bar Cwtch sparked my inner fangirl because it features a Police Box entrance. Because of the entrance, I believe it was once attempted to be sued, although I guess it wasn't successful. Also, apparently, Catherine Tate (who played Donna Noble) once visited the bar before, so that's a fun little fact.
Because it is literally tucked away out of sight, I never would've known of Bar Cwtch if it wasn't for the Doctor Who Cardiff Bus Tour [Unofficial]. Unfortunately, we didn't actually go into the bar, but we did stay long enough for photo ops. I didn't have time to come back afterwards to enjoy it either, although I would've liked to.
5: Look Out for Conventions and Other Special Events.
My Experience at a Blue Gillespie Gig:
When we were in Cardiff, we had the opportunity to see a Blue Gillespie gig at the Buffalo bar. Although I was not really that familiar with the band like my roommate was, I was very interested in the fact that the lead singer was Gareth David-Lloyd.
Although there was some confusion and the show was delayed by about an hour or so, I still rather enjoyed the gig. The Buffalo bar also hosts quiz nights that sometimes include Doctor Who themes. We had a decent meal there as well.
When in Cardiff, you can still keep an eye out for Doctor Who conventions and other related events. However, even if there are none in Cardiff, you may be able to take a trip to England to attend special events, although this is not something I have tried.
Want to hear Torchwood's lovable tea boy sing progressive Welsh metal?
Seriously, the change will blow you away. Just know that you will encounter explicit language (that is even more amazing if you can only picture Ianto Jones). My roommate has the Seven Rages of Man and I quite like it because the songs progress along like a story.
It's poll time! - Are you ready for it? Here we go:
If you could only go to ONE of the above attractions, which would you choose?
Bonus Geeky Picture! - (I am such a tourist.)
Okay, so this wasn't in Cardiff, Wales, but Edinburgh, Scotland. Still, I couldn't resist getting this incredibly touristy picture taken in front of a Police Information Box and an iconic red telephone booth. It was just so much fun in such a geeky way.
And that's it for my list of 5 things Whovians MUST DO in Cardiff, Wales!
I loved my trip to Cardiff, Wales, and plan to visit there again another time when I can afford to. Whether you're a Doctor Who fan or not, there is bound to be something to find that you will thoroughly enjoy doing in this city.
Handy travel guides to help you out around the United Kingdom:
Because there is always so much more to do when travelling around Wales, England, and Scotland, I thought I'd throw out some popular travelling guides to help you plan your own epic adventure!
MMWoodward is enrolled in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.