Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wales Trip Day 1

Well it has been a whole 24 hours since I left San Jose.  I am writing from my new flat in Cardiff.  I live in a tiny room, located in a small home, on Woodville Road in Cardiff.  Twenty-four hours ago, I left my family and friends in San Jose and embarked on a new adventure.  I left not knowing what would befall me.  The day before I left I heard my visa was denied but after discussing the possibilities with my Professor, I decided to come anyway.  On the plane I first sat next to a kind English gentleman named Robert.  We spoke for awhile about England and the Bay Area.  He then traded out his seat with his young son, Toby, who after our introductions began watching some sort of car movie.  Toby was a nice boy and behaved quite well throughout the journey. 
On my right, was a rather attractive Swede named Elin.  (pronounced A-leen) She lives in the United States and goes to school at DeAnza.  She was very pleasant and we spoke for several hours.  I tried to nap but never met with success.  (this means I am writing this without having slept in 30 hours—yikes)
When we disembarked I made it through a very long line at Customs and they let me through to go learn Welsh.  I quickly left Heathrow for the comforts of my old haunts in Kensington, where I topped up my phone, got internet, ran some quick errands, and got lunch/dinner/breakfast at Pret and cookies at Ben’s Cookies.  Then I booked it to Paddington Station as I thought that my train to Cardiff was leaving soon.  When I got there, I printed my tickets and rushed to the platform to find that I still had a two hour wait.  Not wanting to leave the station I sat down next to the bronze Paddington Bear and devoured my sandwich and then proceeded to doze.  That lasted for nearly an hour and then I grew nervous that if I fell asleep I would miss my train—so I passed the next hour watching pigeons. 
When it came time to embark on my journey to Cardiff, I boarded the train and found a seat next to some middle aged women returning to Cardiff from a day in London.  They seemed safe enough, until I realized that they had had a bit too much to drink and were quite loud.  They were pleasant and their accents were charming so their loudness was easily overlooked.  They were a group of secondary school teachers celebrating the retirement of one of their number.  Throughout the train they grew louder and louder as the wine bottles grew empty and the corks from champagne bottles flew through the air. 
The English Countryside is truly lovely.  As we trained along, I kept looking out and seeing tiny hamlets and villages with church spires, fields, and quaint cottages that seemed oh so inviting.  Maybe I am not a city person after all.  Finally we crossed the Welsh Border, and the signs gained many consonants and lost all of their vowels.  I arrived in Cardiff, relieved to have made it to my destination and anxious for a shower and bed.  I took the first taxi leaving the station for my new address on Woodville Road and spoke with the charming driver, Phil, about the Welsh Language, History, the history of Brittany, and the linguistic parallels between Welsh and Breton.  He was just great.  6 pounds lighter, I arrived at my new home and immediately left to go find groceries before all the shops closed.

Going to Tesco was nearly a religious experience as I found so many foods that I thought I had tasted for the last time.  Heavily laden with lamb, pork, pasta, and vegetables, I returned home.  There, I received my room assignment and immediately went up stairs to start unpacking.  The layout of the room was completely unsuitable so I moved furniture for a little while and now I am quite settled.  As it looks like it is time for bed I am signing off.  Until tomorrow,  Hwyl!

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