Britain/United Kingdom/England/Wales

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QUESTION: My wife & I will be visiting Wales in April as I won a trip to the Dr Who Experience. I think it's in Cardiff. Will only be there 3 days. Anything you can recommend as far as things to do, food, etc.?  Thank You

ANSWER: Hi - the Dr Who Experience is indeed in Cardiff in South Wales and has had some rave reviews. The people of Cardiff are some of the most welcoming in the world .. but you may have trouble with the local accent at first ... and they might have trouble with yours!

Cardiff is the largest city in Wales and has been the Capital city since 1955. I love the castle, the local independent shops - and the new "parliament" (actually the "National Assembly for Wales"). When I first used to go there, it was a dirty coal mining centre - but the mines have now gone and the wonderful Cardiff Bay wouldn't look out of place in San Francisco! You'll also notice that every sign is in English and Welsh - try and have a go at the Welsh language while you're there with some of the locals - it's very tongue twisting, but great fun .... and they'll love you for it!

http://www.doctorwhoexperience.com/ has more details.
Be careful, as it is closed on Tuesdays (except during local school holidays) so plan your visit carefully!

Tell me a little more about what sort of things you like, please / age ranges etc - Cardiff is a large city and has almost everything, but I'd hate to recommend something for children if you're seniors, for example!

Also, I'm assuming you're travelling into London Heathrow airport and then onto Cardiff? Is your total visit 3 days? If so, depending on flight times, you'll only really have 1 day in Cardiff and that will affect the advice I give you.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: To be honest I just won the trip so the details haven't been worked out but sponsor said air from my home to Wales, UK so I don't think we'll fly to London. Also 3 nights hotel but doesn't specify. We are a 59 & 49 year old male/female, but act much younger. Very active & healthy. Like good food, wine, dancing, nature, ocean, shopping. Walking not a problem. Open to pretty much anything. Not the type to spend hours in a museum or sit through ballet or opera, but a castle would be cool or farmers market. I may ask sponsor to extend another night at my expense. My credit card doesn't have a chip. Just the magnetic strip. Will that be a problem? What's the best place to exchange my US dollars? Thanks for your time
Roger
Syracuse, NY....USA

Answer
Thanks.

It's not possible to fly direct so you'll either fly into London and then take the train, or change planes in either Amsterdam or Dublin.

For example, an evening (1730 departure) flight from JFK via Ireland will get you into Cardiff for 0830 the next morning (having changed planes at 0515) - but your hotel room may not be available until 3pm. The 2040 from JFK doesn't have a connection to Cardiff arriving until after 2000 the next evening, so you'd lose the whole day (although you would get time (10 hours!) to see Dublin!).

A return flight would mean leaving the hotel at around 5.30 am, arriving JFK at 1325 the same day (with 6 hours in Dublin). In both cases, you will possibly be limited by tiredness on arrival and / or the early start after your second full day.

A quick look at Amsterdam connections  means travelling times of 22 to 27 hours (take off to landing) , so that's even worse.

Flying into London and taking 2 really good trains is much easier!

The excellent Heathrow Express  https://www.heathrowexpress.com/ would drop you off in London's Paddington station within 15 minutes and then it's a direct frequent train, at 125 miles an hour, from there to Cardiff, which takes 2hours 35 minutes - and is a beautiful ride through some of England's most beautiful countryside, via Bath and Bristol.

Your card will be fine - just carry your passport in case you're asked for ID - you'll then just need to sign for any purchases.

Cardiff Castle is certainly well worth while http://www.cardiffcastle.com/ and it's in the centre of the city, unlike most British castles!

You can buy Sterling either in the USA or at many shops and banks etc on arrival - generally, the Post Offices here are the best places, and the hotels, as ever, the worst!

Let me know when you have the flight details and dates please (as weekends can be very different to the working week for visiting) as that will make a huge difference to the things you can do, in the time available.

Alun

Britain/United Kingdom/England

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Alun Hill MCIJ

Expertise

As a full time, UK based, travel journalist, I travel almost constantly around the whole of the UK, searching out restaurants, hotels and "must see" places. Visitors for both business and pleasure are welcome to ask questions. I almost always travel by public transport, so questions on rail, air and coach / bus travel are also very welcome. I also regularly write about and use the "Eurostar" rail service between London and Continental Europe - which uses a tunnel under the English Channel - so I am able to help with any questions there, too.

Experience

I'm a full time, UK based, travel journalist. I travel almost constantly around the whole of the UK, searching out restaurants, hotels and "must see" places for my readers. I have been writing about, filming and reporting from UK tourism destinations for over 12 years. I cover both "business" and "pleasure" trips for my readers.

Organizations
I am a member of the "Chartered Institute of Journalists" (the world's oldest professional body for journalists), the "British Association of Journalists" and "The International Travel Writers Alliance". I hold a full UK Press Card, issued by the Metropolitan Police at Scotland Yard, London.

Publications
National and local press in UK. Local and National TV in the UK and Europe (Germany, Hungary), reporting on travel and tourism in the UK.

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