It can be easy to forget there's much more to the UK than just England. In fact, any true understanding of that island nation requires visits to the Celtic realms of Wales and Scotland.
Capital of the principality of Wales, Cardiff grew up as a port for the shipping of iron and coal from nearby Welsh valleys. Now it's cast off its grim history as a rough seaport to become a green and stately city with pedestrian shopping quadrants, statued squares and a large and well-preserved castle.
Cardiff also features a strong sporting and cultural presence. Sporting events such as the national sport of Rugby Union are played at the new Millenium Stadium. The Welsh National Opera now performs at the Wales Millennium Centre, Wales' palace to arts and culture.
Transport:getting there and getting away
Cardiff International Airport is about 12 miles from the city. It connects with various destinations in the UK and continental Europe.
Direct trains connect Cardiff with London, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham and others as do national coach services.
The city has an effective bus system and the city's flatness make it perfect for cycling. There are also two kinds of taxis - the black and white prowl the streets looking for fares and other colours which have to be booked.
Typical for the UK though Cardiff's coastal location tends to temper extremes of temperature.