The 6 hour train ride from Windermere to Cardiff was like taking the slow boat to China. Lots of stops. But I finally made it in late afternoon. Upon arriving I learned that the tourist office was several blocks from the train station. I got directions and proceeded off in the rain.
I looked around for the office and couldn't find it anywhere. I asked directions a number of times to no avail.
I was lost. It was raining. I was tired. And if I recall correctly, wasn't in one of the best of moods...
Important Travel Lesson
My experience is that the hardest part of Backpacker Travel is >>> Arriving at a New Destination and Getting to your First Accommodation.
Why? Because once you get there, you can set down your pack, set down your carry bag, take a shower, take a nap, get a meal, and get oriented in a relaxed manner.
But until you arrive at your first accomodation, you're walking around in full gear and you'd much prefer not to be walking around in full gear...
Most backpackers and other travelers arriving at new destinations must get to a Tourist Office. Tourist Offices have maps, information, and will book reservations for the price range and type of accommodation you're looking for. Most offices are well organized and know exactly what is available. They'll also give you accurate directions on how to get to your reserved accommodation.
Budget Travel Books
You can bypass the tourist office if you already know where your accommodation is. The "Lets Go Europe" book is "The Bible of the Budget Traveler". It has phone numbers and directions to low budget accommodations and youth hostels. And it has a wealth of information on travel logistics and area highlights. Its wise to call and make a reservation from the train station even for a youth hostel.
There are many other travel books (Frommer's, Fodor's, Lonely Planet, etc.) that provide accomodation information. A travel book is indispensible to a hardcore traveler. If you don't want to lug around multiple books, go to local book stores. They will have a wealth of information about their areas. Read about your next destination and you will be much better prepared for it...
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After an hour I finally found the tourist office. I booked a B&B that was a 20 minute walk away. The sun was coming out and I was very glad to know exactly where I was going. I finally arrived at an old brownstone building, set down my pack and took a long nap.
That night I went to a really cool bar in the city center. The Welsh are very friendly and they'll make you feel at home.
The next day I took a walking tour of the City Centre, Cardiff Castle and the Roman Wall. It was a very interesting history. That night I had a good Thai dinner and of course, I went back to that neat bar for a friendly night with the Welsh!
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Tomorrow, I'm off to Bath England...