We were allowed to go all over the castle, exploring dark tunnels, high towers, and defences. No one got lost and the kids successfully completed the children's trail and earned a magnet.
We then took the short drive to Cardiff, the capital of and largest city in Wales. TV fans will also know it as the home of BBC Wales and filming locations for Dr. Who.
We strolled around Cardiff Bay seeing the Wales Millennium Center, the Senedd (home of the Welsh National Assembly), the Pierhead Building, and the Norwegian Church.
We had our last pub lunch at Eli Jenkins where the service was terrible but the prices were amazingly low, and stopped by the Mr. Whippy truck for an ice cream treat.
Walking around Mermaid Quay, we enjoyed live music from the Quaynote Competition, and scrumptious, freshly made Welshcakes from Fabulous Welshcakes (imagine the offspring of a pancake and a scone with a hint of spice).
Saying goodbye to our friends we made the long drive to our hotel near Heathrow. One side of it looked like a castle while the other looked like an office building. The accommodations were fine, but not exactly castle-like, and we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere opting for dinner at a rundown takeaway fish and chips shop.
Waking up early on our last morning, we headed to Heathrow's Terminal 5 where we enjoyed breakfast at Wagamama (who knew they even served breakfast?).
We also grabbed as many sweets as possible from the duty free store including Ava's favorite, Kinder Eggs, which have been illegal in the US for many years.Flying in World Traveler class (aka coach, but with a posh name) in the upper deck of a BA A380, Ava had a shelf and storage bin next to her for the flight home. She also had a personal video screen and got to watch tons of movies including the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie based on her current favorite book series.
We made it home safely and Ava is back into the swing of things at school and with her after-school activities. Ava had a wonderful, albeit exhausting, vacation and is looking forward to a future trip back to the UK.