Wake in: Cardiff
Sleep in: Cardiff
My last day in my twenties. I'm back in Starbucks listening to a buzz of British accents. Well, actually I think they are mainly Welsh.
I woke up this morning after a tossy turny kind of night. The thing is, though, that the "mattresses" are covered with plastic and the bunk beds are metal, so it makes lots of noise when you roll over. I try to do it quietly and each time I think "OK that'll be the last position switch," but I never realized before just how often I wake up and switch sides. Anyway, I woke up with this thought: "I can't believe I'm here by myself doing this."
But I am, and it hasn't been awful. I've talked to people, shopped, toured castles, and taken photographs. I think I am really quite proud of myself. And today is probably the last full day I'll be on my own until my flight home. [So you don't think I'm whining too much, remember that I had a day and a half worth of straight travel by myself, too, which involved getting to and from airports, late flights, O'Hare International, and overnight flight, a train to find at the Manchester airport, another change of train, a change from a train to a bus, and back to a train again, and then a walk to find a hostel with a 40 pound pack on my back.] The Starbucks here have breakfast sandwiches. Today I'm having egg and Lincolnshire sausage. I wonder what makes it Lincolnshire.
A girl from New Zealand leant me her phone charger. Yay! I was getting worried about that! I just hope no one steals my phone while it's charging. After I'm done here, I'm going to St. Fagans.
Right, back at the "hoppin'" hostel bar. Meaning it's nearly always empty. They say that's because it's winter. So the good Samaritan who leant me her phone charger did so in vain. Who knew that you have to switch on the outlets like a light switch? Oh well. Maybe h will be able to help me out with something tomorrow. It'll be good to a) see a friendly face and b) have a room of my own with a (it has to be) bigger shower.
Still, I made it through my first hostel experience. Ok, today...Well Starbucks in the morning, as I wrote this morning. Then I went to what I thought was the
bus ticket office, but was really a
bus ticket office, and not the one I needed. Still, they knew what I was talking about, and told me where I needed to go.
Then it was back to the hostel to pick up my phone (see charger incident) and change my shoes because I remembered from last time that St. Fagans could be muddy. Probably one of the smartest things I've done the whole trip. It rained during the night last night, and was sprinkling this morning, but the sun shone for quite a bit of the day today. I'd say I had the perfect day for wandering around St. Fagans.
But wait, I'm still at the hostel. So I set off for the bus station, which is right next to the train station. Everything in Cardiff is quite easy to figure out or navigate. It seems like a lot of thought went into the layout of the city and its services.
On the way to the station, someone asked me where St. Mary's Street was, and I knew!
She was just walking in the wrong direction, but still...I was quite pleased.
I was, of course, early for the bus. I think someone came up to me and asked me for money, but she talked so fast I had no idea what she really said, so I sort of just gaped at her and put one hand up and she walked away. Maybe they thought I didn't speak English.
Got on the bus and to the museum
uneventfully. It was as cool as I remembered and this time, I even went into the castle (which is more like a mansion) and its gardens. I spoke at some length with one of the guides, and he told me about how there is a long history of strong women in Wales. He mentioned a story about a woman, Satcha, maybe?, who ran academies to teach men how to fight. And a woman started the "Rebecca Riots" to protest excess toll booths on the roads of Wales. He said they had put so many up and that and the people were so poor that by the time they had paid all the tolls to get into town, they barely had enough money to pay for the necessities for which they went there. He didn't seem adverse to talking, he even ignored some other people who came into the cottage and kept talking to me. He was kind of cute. I saw him again later and he said "hello again." Thrill, I know.
I took loads and loads of pictures and paid 2 pounds to have a guidebook. I keep thinking that I want to be able to really tell people and show people what I did [I haven't really done this.]. I'm journaling so much because I don't have anyone to share my day with, or anyone who shared it. Still, I think I'm going to be glad I did and it certainly gives me something to do after dark. [In Cardiff, when I was on my own, I didn't go out after dark.]
So by the end of walking the better part of 180 acres of the museum, my feet felt like they were about to fall off, and the little sandwich I had was long gone. So I stopped in their little snack bar and had a basil, Caerphilly cheese, and tomato
sandwich. I was so hungry and the cheese was melty so I didn't even pick the tomatoes off. [I hate tomatoes.]
So tomorrow is my birthday. The fact that I'm 30 is crazy. I'll bet I'm the oldest person in the hostel [I wasn't--by far]. I always come into my own with things too late.
Anyway, it seems like a lot of people here take advantage of the whole "free use of the kitchen" thing. Yesterday a couple made spaghetti with sauce and cheese. The person sitting near me now is having a whole sit down dinner: chicken, potatoes, vegetable. That's just nuts! You have to buy it and then, worst of all, you have to clean up the kitchen. No thanks, I'm on vacation, I'll eat out.