Gil Hicks: What... like the back of a Volkswagen?

London 07 – Part 2

Today is the first day during this trip where we’re not traveling.

Ok maybe Sunday was but that didn’t really count as it was our first full day in London and we took the opportunity to sleep to a sane hour and then try to figure out just what we were going to do for the rest of the week.

Monday however was a day full of travel and fun. We were going to initially take a train to Wales to visit a friend of mine and see the Welsh country-side since neither of us had been. We would’ve done that had we not tried to price the train and seen that it comes out to about £106 per person, or the equilivent of $212 per person per leg, so for us to travel on the train it would’ve been nearly $800.

I nearly shit my pants because I wasn’t expecting it at all. A friend had told me about the trains in the first place, and they were cheap then. I didn’t realize they were akin to airline tickets you had to book months in advance otherwise the price skyrocketed. After asking around again someone put us onto buses, or coaches here, and we gave them a try. At £62 for both of us it was a helluva lot cheaper.

So we went to Victoria station trying to find where the buses were, but again our trip of near misses and inability to read signage continued and we back-tracked into the train station because we thought we had missed where the bus station was. Turns out we hadn’t gone far enough this time.

Then after attempting to buy tickets we were told we had missed the 11:30 and had to wait an hour. We figured since we’ve got an hour I’m going to grab something to eat because I was starving and starting to become a dick, and also attempt to get my phone figured out.

Turns out I shouldn’t have even bothered with trying to get my unlock code from my US carrier as it didn’t do shit. Instead I should’ve taken it to the dodgy mobile shop near Victoria station paid them 10 quid to unlock it and all would’ve been done.

So in the end I didn’t waste much money as I used a Vodafone sim-card since I had already bought some top-up minutes earlier.

Having that settled meant I could actually call my friend in Wales and tell her what was going on. She understood our problem but mentioned because of the coach ride there wouldn’t be much daylight to see some sights. We understood but not like there was much we could do.

After doing the 3 hour coach ride to Wales we arrived and were immediately greeted by my friend Llinos, who I also found out I had been saying her name wrong entirely. But that’s because I had only heard it said by English people who also got it all wrong. We put our bags in our shit hotel and proceeded to be led all around the Welsh country. We got to see Penarth a pretty town on the water-front, got taken around Cardiff to see both where the Millennium Stadium was, and some of the other newer buildings there. And then went to where Llinos’ home and home-pub were at. It was great fun to sit there, have some good fish and chips and then drink a few pints while watching shit football.

We were brought back to our hotel and again slept like nobodies business because we were exhausted from traveling again and then cramming more sight-seeing into a day. When we woke up however we went shopping in and around downtown Cardiff which I have to say was great. Jamie found some good rugby shops, I got some Christmas shopping done and I managed to pick up the new Arsenal kit I needed for yesterday’s game. Then right before we had to catch our return bus we went up in the Cardiff Winter Wonderland ferris wheel which was fucking massive. I mean this thing was huge but we decided we were going to go in it, even if it was slightly drizzling and overcast.

We paid our £10 total for us and got to be the only people on it, course it probably helped that it was only 12pm and raining out. But we went probably at least 6 stories up and we were both scared shitless from the height. I’m ok in a building and usually have been ok with heights in rides, but this was bad because I happened to look out at the ground and that’s what kept fucking me up.

Jamie proceeded to take a lot of pictures, which will be uploaded soon and I’ll link to them. And then started to try to stand up and move around in our little cabin. I might have laughed at her when we were getting into it and she kept saying she was scared but I definitely said “Oh no you don’t” as she started to get up because I didn’t want the thing to rock.

Yes, yes I am a giant sissy.

After we got off it was right back to the bus station to catch our bus back to London. Oh wait, except that I had left our return tickets in my Arsenal magazine which I had left on the train when we got to Wales. Great now we were going to have to re-buy the damned things. Except Jamie reminded the ticket agent we had purchased them with a credit-card and he simply looked up our information and then wrote a number down on a piece of paper which we used to get 2 boarding passes.

It worked out in the end, but proved that apparently the only thing I’m good at doing when I come to the UK is drinking in pubs, and watching football matches.

Anyway we were able to catch the coach ok and got back to London around 5:15. Which was good as we were due to meet up with a gentleman who was friends with Jamie’s dad for dinner at 7pm. Now an hour and 45 minutes should be good enough to get to our flat, change and make it over but really it wasn’t. We had to get there with the mob of people during rush-hour, then iron our clothes and change because we were still wearing mostly dirty things from Wales and then travel back from where we had just come.

In the end we met him at 7:30 and all was well. We had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant called BANK, and then went out for a pint or two at the pub ’round the corner. All in all it was a great evening and some fun conversations but i have to say I’m looking forward to today and the fact we don’t have to be anywhere at any time, and we can simply go shopping when we want and for however long we want.

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