Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Come Along, Pond

Warning, this blog is about to get real nerdy, real fast. And if you see some saying that don't seem quite like something I'd say, don't worry, they're common Doctor Who words and phrases I've decided to incorporate into this blog post for a bit of fun. They're all in italics. 

With that said, read on! 

Early Friday morning (way too early for my taste, Libby, Austin, Caitlin and I embarked on a journey to Cardiff, Wales to explore the city and to visit the Doctor Who Experience. Because of uncontrollable circumstances, we weren't able to get to the train station in time to catch the train we were planning on take, so we had to take the train an hour later. Usually, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but our tickets were for a timed entry to the Doctor Experience between 11 and 12. And our train didn't get in into just about noon. Now, as you all probably know, I have a thing about punctuality, and I absolutely hate being late. But some things are uncontrollable, and we had to just go a little bit late and hope we would still be let in.

We had to go under a tunnel to get into Wales and when we were on the England side it was bright and sunny, and when we exited on the Wales side it was dark, stormy and a little bit green as though there was going to be a tornado, even though I know they don't get tornadoes here. Not the best welcome. We got to Cardiff Central on time and it seemed that with the frequency of trains to Queen Street and then on to Cardiff Bay that we just might make it on time. The problem was, we didn't know what platform we had to be on. We walked towards the ticket help desk and heard the man telling a woman that a train was leaving in a minute or so. I knew we wanted to get on that train. "Basically, run" I thought to myself and we rushed up the stairs. We rode for four minutes or so and then had to change trains at Cardiff Queen Street. No time to loose, I gathered my things, ready to exit as soon as the train arrived. "Geronimo!" I said as we rushed through the crowds to the proper platform. 

We got to Cardiff Bay around 11:45 and I though we just may make it in time. One problem though, we didn't know how to get to the Doctor Who Experience from the Cardiff Bay Station. To our left was a road lined with signposts sporting Dalek (a characters from Doctor Who) banners so we knew we were at the correct station. The question was, do these flags lead the direction from the train station, or are they leading from a further road in the direction of the train station? I felt responsible for not knowing where to go because I was in charge of what train to take to get there and should have considered how to walk there from the train station. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry," I said to the group, frustrated with myself. 

Libby's iPhone was having trouble locating it, but I was almost positive it was on the water, so we walked towards the bay while waiting for the phone to find the location, not wanting to waste any time. Even after Apple Maps found it, we didn't seem to have much luck because roads in Great Britain are usually terrible labeled. After walking down the wrong street multiple time, we finally got on the right track. We saw a tourist information centre soon after and decided to just ask to confirm we were headed the right way. And its a good thing we did. Although the iPhone directions would have gotten us there it would have taken us much longer. The best route was really easy and a much more enjoyable walk. "Allonsy!" I said, hurrying us along. We just had to walk along the plass that the tourist information was on the corner of. We then got to walk along the water which is something we don't really get to do much here in Britain. And it was actually a gorgeous day. I always dress as though were going on an expedition to the arctic and it frequently ends up being really nice out. The sun was shining and reflecting off the water in a beautifully blinding way. The sun was beating down on me making me want to take my coat off. But there was no time for that and there unfortunately wasn't really time to take pictures of the bay of the beautiful day.

As we were walking I knew we were going in the right direction because we began seeing signs for the attraction. The question was: why not have these signs right from the train station? I'm sure lots of people take the train to get to the Doctor Who Experience and there were arrow/direction signs to other attractions nearby. But I have to say, once the attraction signs did show up, they were fantastic. You know those brown signs that show symbols of nearby attractions to lead you in the right direction. For some reason, they chose a Dalek for the Doctor Who Experience symbol. I mean Daleks are cool and all and quintessential DocorWho but why not use the TARDIS or something? I mean, the Daleks are the enemy  after all. But I digress. It was pretty awesome nonetheless.

We arrived at the entrance only a few minutes late and it turned out to not be that big of a deal which was a relief. We got in line, excited to go in. There's something awesome about being in an area filled with people who understand you obsession or fascination with something. I knew I could feel out as much as I wanted without being judged so that's exciting. If you're not interested in reading about Doctor Who I recommend skipping the next few paragraphs.

The first part of the type was an adventure with the Doctor in which we had to help the Doctor get the TARDIS back as he was stuck in the Pandorica again and needed it to get out.  And what kind of Madman in a Box would he be without his bigger on the inside police box? The good news is that we succeeded, having to battle Daleks, Weeping Angels and more. And it ended with a 3D movie where it looks like we're traveling through time like in the theme song. That was probably my favorite part of the first section of the Doctor Who Experience. Matt Smith played the Doctor in this section since he is the current Doctor but what will happen when he regenerates and the is a new actor playing the Doctor? Will the have a whole new adventure at the beginning for every Doctor as they change? Because that would be awesome and an excellent business decision.

The second half was the exhibition portion which featured props, costumes and aliens from the filming of the series. We saw Nine, Ten, and Eleven's Sonic Screwdrivers and we were able to take a picture with the 11th Doctor's TARDIS and look at a display of typical costumes of all 11 doctors. My favorite was the inside of the 10th Doctor's TARDIS which you could see up close and the video that played along with it was David Tennant's last very emotional scene that gets me every time. So good. And so sad. We also saw costumes of the Doctor's companions as well as the actual props used for a number of Doctor Who's best alien creatures: the Silence, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Daleks and more.It was all pretty much amazing. And I of course got a picture with a cardboard cut out of Amelia Pond because Caitlin calls me Amelia and jokingly refers to me as Amelia Pond sometimes. 

We then went to the Doctor Who store at the end of exhibition which as pretty awesome. I ended up getting a TARDIS pen, which makes writing just a little more fun, and a poster of the TARDIS flying over London that only cost £1 so how could I not get it? One thing that I was bummed out about was that there wasn't a TARDIS replica for us to take pictures in. That was something I was really looking forward to and it just never happened. I mean, how hard would it be construct a replica for people to pose in. It's what the people want. 

Torchwood Shrine in honor of character Ianto Jones
After the Doctor Who Exhibition we explored Cardiff Bay a little more. As we walked, Austy was taking tons of pictures of everything and lagging behind, so we turned around and called "Come along Pond." This is actually something we say all the time, whenever anyone is falling behind. We saw the Cardiff Bay water tower which was featured in Doctor Who and is heavily featured in the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood. Caitlin was saying that she was planning on forcing us to find it, no matter the cost, so we were pleased that it was super obvious where it was. Actually it was the first thing I saw once we got to Cardiff. It really is beautiful though, especially when gleaming in the sunlight. We also spotted a Torchwood shrine while in Cardiff Bay. It is located where the Torchwood entrance is filmed and features tons of pictures and fliers in memory of one of the characters who was killed off. It was actually pretty crazy. "Spoilers" I thought, since I hadn't yet seen Torchwood yet. I've since watched a few seasons and am pretty bummed that I know what is going to happen. 

A friend of a friend who went to Uni in Cardiff told us that there was an American diner in Cardiff Bay and we just had to go. It's fun to see Britain's attempt at American cuisine and decoration. It was a 60s themed diners with fries and burgers and when we got there we actually figured out that they filmed a Doctor Who scene there. So Doctor Who really was just popping up all over the place.While there, Caitlin, Libby and Austin picked up some poppies since Remembrance Day was fast approaching. In a Doctor Who mood, as I looked at us all with our poppies on, I couldn't help but think "We wear poppies now. Poppies are cool.

Soon it was time to leave Cardiff Bay which I was bummed about. "I don't want to go" I whined as I looked over the beautiful water. I love being on the water and wasn't quite ready to go yet. We got back on the train to look at downtown Cardiff. Although we had a map, it was still confusing but I chose a direction and went with it. I didn't really know where I was going, but I just looked at the others and joke "Trust me, I'm a Doctor". Turns out, I was wrong. But it was easily fixed and we found ourselves at Cardiff Story, which was a really cool museum focused on the people of Cardiff. This is actually probably my favorite museum of the ones we've been to about each place we visited. It was interactive and fun and chose to highlight the more fun aspects of Cardiff's history. We also walked past the Cardiff Castle though didn't have time to go in. 

After that it was back to the train station where we once again marveled about the lack of vowels in the Welsh language as the waited for our train to arrive. It was an absolutely amazing Doctor Who adventure and I'm so glad we went. On the train back, I was reading something Austy wrote in which she refered to us as her companions so, in a Doctor Who mood, I couldn't help but turn around and ask here "Are you the Doctor?"

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