I can be honest and say that i have never ever really fancied visiting Cardiff.
Despite family and friends giving good reports, it has never been a place that has sparked any interest inside me despite its rich vein of history and host of attractions.
However, following a recent trip to the Welsh capital, I would now say it is one of the best city breaks i have been on and would most definitely go again.
Our trip (our being me and my girlfriend Leanne) began with a two and a half hour trip in the car just after lunch on Friday.
The drive was good and we never hit any traffic and arrived just after 5pm .
What is most surprising about Cardiff is that when you enter the city, you really are in the city.
No long drive through housing estates and business parks, when you arrive in Cardiff, you do actually arrive slap bang in the middle of the city.
A few left and right turns saw us pull into Park Place and we had finally arrived at our hotel - The Parc. Thistle.
Handily, the hotel car park was right next door so after having a quick stretch and grabbing all the cases, it was inside for a quick check in.
The hotel (which is discussed in greater detail in the far right panel) was lovely and exactly what you would expect from a modern city centre facility.
After quickly getting changed (me quicker than Leanne obviously), we headed down to meet several other journalists who were also taking in Cardiff for the weekend as well as our excellent host Ed Townsend, from Cardiff & Co.
A three course meal was followed by talk of the journalism industry over tea and coffee before we retired off to bed aware of the packed weekend that was ahead of us.
An early start began with a quick walk to the shop to get the Saturday papers followed by a breakfast.
Breakfast, for me at least, consisted of a bowl of Weetabix, white toast, bacon, lashings of tomato sauce, a chocolate croissant, tea and orange juice. Well, i was on holiday.
Soon a short walk through the city centre saw us arrive at Cardiff Castle.
We were then given a tour of the 3rd Marquess of Bute’s fabulous staterooms, designed by his architect, the inspired and eccentric William Burges, followed by a chance to explore the castle grounds and keep.
The tour was an interesting insight into the castle.
It showed how much money was around at the time - with one room estimated to have cost around £25 million if it was made today.
After the climbing to the top of one of the Castle’s buildings, clear skies made way for a fantastic view of the city.
The Millennium Stadium was in full view as was the Welsh Valleys in the distance.
After clambering back down the steps, and taking a few moments to have a look at the war tunnels at the attraction, it was on to our next stop - Cardiff’s famous shopping arcades.
Before we began to spend our pennies in the vast variety of shops on offer, we were treated to a talk on the history of Cardiff.
As an area that i did not know much about, it was fascinating to learn of how in the early 1900s it wasn’t even a well known place in Wales, let alone England.
Then the coal boom ignited the city and saw an influx of cash into the area.
An abundance of people, who flocked to the city and surrounding for jobs, were rich with cash and this was why the shopping arcades came into being.
They are now filled with unique stores and cafes which sell all manner of goods from music and nic nacs to designer fashion to quirky one of pieces of clothing.
What struck me about the arcades is that they provide a snaking path through the city - you go in one end and come out at the other end of the city.
They are well worth a visit.
We also paid a visit to St David’s Centre which features the obligatory high street top brands but it still worth a quick look around if you have a spare few minutes.
We next headed for a look around the Cardiff National Museum.
Among the delights on offer were a look at Wales through the ages, a host of natural history exhibits and a collection of art that included Van Gogh, Picasso and Monet.
My highlight was an up close and personal encounter with some dinosaur bones.
The museum is free to enter a great way to spend a few hours.
After a quick stop for a cup of tea and a cake, it was back to the hotel for a quick change before we headed out for an evening meal.
Our destination was Greenwood and Brown, in Quay Street.
To simply some it up, it was an excellent night out with great food and great company in a restaurant with a fantastic look and a excellent atmosphere.
Steak and chicken were the mainstays of the menu with lashings of and great homemade chips.
I really could not recommend this place enough - a cracking place to eat in Cardiff.
After having a cheeky pudding, it was back to the hotel for another early night ready for another early start.
After another filling breakfast, it was time to jump on a bus and head five minutes through the city to Cardiff Bay.
Though a bitterly cold morning, there was excitement in the air as we getting ready to take part in the Doctor Who Experience.
This is an interactive journey through the world of old and new Who and is simply a must for fans - no matter their age.
Aforded run of the exhibition before it was opened to the public, it starts with a clip montage of the show during the Matt Smith era before it opens into a walk through adventure featuring The Doctor himself.
We got to help fly the Tardis, do battle with the Daleks before being treated to a 3D showdown with a host of the timelords foes.
After catching my breath, the experience then opens into a massive exhibition featuring a host of props from since the series began 50 years ago.
Costumes of every single doctor, Cybermen, Ice Warriors. You name it they have got it there.
I have to admit, I am a massive Doctor Who fan and this was heaven. Well worth a trip to Cardiff just for that alone.
With our exit from the experience, it was time for us to exit Cardiff.
I never planned to visit the city but i was surprised at just how good it was and was very glad that I did.
There was not really a low point for me.
Highlights for me were the Parc Thistle hotel, the food at Greenwood and Brown and the Doctor Who Experience.
Cardiff was a friendly, welcoming and warm city.
It was a great place for a weekend away and I would go back.