Featured Wales

Interesting Facts About Cardiff

Cardiff, located on the Taff River in the southeast part of the country on Bristol Channel, was made a city in 1905 and in 1955 it became the capital of Wales. Wales has a long history spanning thousands of years but it was only in 1955 it got its Capital, Cardiff. It started out as a small Roman fort where the castle was built in 1091, from then on a small settlement grew around it. Up until the early 20th century, the City of Cardiff was considered the greatest coal-shipping port in the world. The population of Cardiff in 1801 was 1,870, by 2009 the official estimate of Cardiff’s population was 336,200.

Many young bright students head for Cardiff as it houses four major universities: Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff University, University of Wales Institute and the Cardiff University of Glamorgan. One of the most famous and successful former students of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama was Sir Anthony Hopkins. He became very famous and well known thanks to his convincing performance in his role as Hannibal Lecter.

Famous cardiffians as they are known have helped put Cardiff on the map in recent years. The singer Micheal Barret, who is better known as Shakin Stevens originates from Cardiff. Dame Shirley Bassey is another. Cerrys Mathews is another as is the child star Charlotte Church who grew up in the public eye and now worth millions. But it’s not just singers, the author Roald Dahl is another cardiffian as is the poet Dannie Abse. Many sports men and women and come from this city. Boxers Gary Buckland, Joe Erskine, Nicky Piper and Jim Driscol come from this town. A few famous rugby players originate from this city including Bill Boston MBE, Nigel Walker and Terry Holmes.

Now in the 21st century Cardiff is a magnet for the young and dynamic. It is a great place to visit and a great base to explore the coast and culture of south Wales. The popular Sci-Fi show Doctor Who and its spin off Torchwood are filmed in the city. The filming locations are part of some movie location tours which attracts Sci-Fi fans from all over the world. The millennium stadium which opened in 1999 holds many major events including World Class Rugby, Football and Cricket. The stadium can seat a total capacity of 74500. Some of the world’s music icons which can fill stadiums have played there. Madonna played there in 2008 on her Sticky and Sweet tour and more recently in June 2011 Take That played there on their Progress tour.

For more information on going on a Doctor Who Experience Cardiff why not check out Brit Movie tours who offer are a London based tour company offering many other tours including the Harry Potter Studio Tour London.


Featured Scotland

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Scotland

Scotland has been named one of the top countries in the world to visit in 2014 by the travel guide company Lonely Planet. The country is best known for its exports (whisky, shortbread and textiles), its weather (wet and windy) and its warm welcome. But here are some other, lesser known facts about Scotland.

Scotland has over 790 islands, although only 130 are inhabited. The largest inhabited island is Lewis and Harris and the most popular island tourist destination in Scotland is Skye (‘the Misty Isle’). Many of Scotland’s islands are found in groups, such as the island groups of Orkney, Shetland and the inner and outer Hebrides.

Scotland is home to the 3rd largest whirlpool in the world, the Corryvrecken in Argyll and Bute. Its name, which originates in Scottish Gaelic, means the ‘cauldron of the speckled seas’.

The Scottish diaspora – people who have emigrated from Scotland to elsewhere in the world but kept some sense of their Scottish identity – is estimated to be between 28 and 40 million people. In other words between five and eight times the population of Scotland itself.

Scotland has a higher proportion of redheads than any other country in the world. More than one in 10 people – almost 13% of the population have red hair, and 40% carry the ‘red-hair’ gene.

Scotland’s famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest open arts festival in the world. The festival started when some acts who were not invited to perform at the official Edinburgh International Festival decided to show up anyway – hence the name. When the various different festivals are in full flow in August, the population of Edinburgh doubles in size.

It’s against the law in Scotland to be drunk and in charge of a cow, according to a clause in the (alcohol) Licensing Act of 1872. The same clause also outlaws being drunk and in charge of a horse or a steam engines.

The tallest waterfall in the UK is in Sutherland, in the Scottish Highlands. Called ‘Eas a’ Chual Aluinn’, the drop of the waterfall is 200m which is more than 3 times the water drop of Niagara Falls.

Scotland is officially the windiest place in Europe, home to a quarter of the continent’s wind power. In 2013 over 40% of Scotland’s electricity was generated from renewable sources including wind, waves and tide. The renewable energy industry in Scotland employs more than 11,500 people.

Scotland is home to the world’s oldest ‘calendar’. The lunar calendar was unearthed by archaeologists in a field at Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire in 2013. The excavations uncovered a series of 12 pits which seem to have been built to track lunar months, possibly using wooden posts in the pits to chart the moon’s movement. The archaeology team (from the University of Birmingham), think the massive ‘calendar’ is around 10,000 years old.

The national animal of Scotland is… wait for it… the unicorn! The unicorn has also been used as a heraldic symbol in Scotland, first appearing on an early form of the coat of arms of the Scottish King, William the First. The unicorn is said to symbolise both innocence and power.

If you have been left wanting to visit Scotland after coming to the end of these fun and interesting facts then there is a variety of holiday accommodation available. Either book to stay in a hotel or rent a holiday cottage in Scotland.

Featured London

8 Quirky Things to Do in London

There is so much to see and do in London, especially if you’re based in one of the central hostels in London. Once you’ve seen the iconic attractions, why not explore the weirder, wackier side of this grand old city.

1. Ripley’s Believe it or Not – Head over to Piccadilly Circus and prepare to have your mind blown. From quirky exhibits to a breath-taking laser race, this is definitely one fun venue that shouldn’t be missed for the young, or the young at heart.

2. Sample the Beers of the Ages on a Pub Tour – If you’re a serious beer lover and have £20 to spare, you can book a pub tour of London’s East End, courtesy of Alternative London. This is a pretty good deal if you’re staying in one of the hostels in London and want to make the most of your limited time and have some fun to boot.

3. Chill Out in the Swimming Ponds of Hampstead Heath – There’s nothing like an ice-cold dip in the middle of winter to get your blood flowing again! Hampstead Heath’s swimming ponds are open all year round, ready to give you chills and thrills with a dip in the waters.

4. Gourmet Toast in Clapham – Feeling hungry? As in, really hungry? Breads Etcetera offers huge portions and you can eat as much as you can handle of their freshly baked bread. Pair it will one of their delicious omelettes and you’ll be good to go for the whole day.

5. Shop for Umbrellas at James Smith & Sons – London is renowned for its rain and you’ll inevitably need an umbrella if you don’t want to get sopping wet every time you step outside the hostels in London. You can always grab a cheap one, of course, but why not stay dry in style with a brolly from one of London’s most iconic stores, which has been around since 1830?

6. Dine Among the Dead – Always felt that your average restaurant is somewhat lacking in dead animals preserved in life-like postures? Then you may fancy visiting the Les Trois Garcon restaurant. Located in Shoreditch, you can enjoy a delicious feast under the watchful gaze of a host of stuffed (but very real) animals. It’s a taxidermist’s dream, but it’s not for everyone – although it’s certainly different!

7. Get Your Laugh On for Free – Monday nights in the Theatre Royal Stratford East are reserved for a bevy of stand-up comedy acts, and the best part is Comic Mondays are free! This is a great night out and very easily accessible from the central hostels in London.

8. Learn Some Fake History – Speaking of laughs, Bullsh*t London is a two-man comedian act-slash-walking tour of the South Bank. For £10, you can enjoy a two-hour long tour with a skewered, tongue-in-cheek version of London’s grand old history. Perfect for those who lean toward the irreverent.

Looking for a dream travel experience? Jason H. Cunningham works for Hostelling International, a company with more than 4,000 hostels worldwide in fantastic locations. For the best hostels in London, or anywhere else, join our global community and say hi to the world. From quality, affordable accommodation and backpacker tips, to meaningful volunteer opportunities and enriching our eco footprint, we are the world’s local hostelling hub.