Monday, 29 March 2010

Day 2 and 3 - Caerdydd (Cardiff)

Spent the next few days in Cardiff, the Welsh capitol.  Cardiff only has about 350,000 people but it feels much bigger than that. There's a very frantic energy in the city especially downtown Cardiff. The Welsh Assembly, Welsh National Museum, Millenium Centre, Millenium Stadium and the new St. David's Mall are all here which might explain the frenetic excitement in the city.

The first day in Cardiff, I caught a bus downtown and
bought a proper Cardiff bus pass, £14 for the week.  Then visited the Job Centre to try to get some information about getting my National Insurance Number, without much luck.  Next onto some shopping.  Been trying to find some Docs because my Black Spot canvas shoes are falling apart, very literally. (Everyone should buy a pair of Black Spots - properly made shoes, ie. no child labour) At any rate, no luck finding boots at all.

Here's how absolutely every exchange went down.
I walk into the store, being proper Canadian with my lumber jack jacket, and am immediately met with strange stares.
"Excuse me," I say in a good Canadian accent.
The stare turns into a glare, so I know they must be thinking, "Who does this Yank think he is?"
I roll my eyes, "Do you guys sell Docs at all?"
"No, no, DOCS!"
"Dawgs?  What are Dawgs?"
"Oh right, sorry, I mean, Doc Martens."
Awkward pause.
"Well, do you know who carries them?"
Longer awkward pause as we stare each other down and I slowly back away.

The sales people are ridiculously funny here because they don't really want to sell you anything. Well, especially to me.  They never approach to see if you need help or anything like that.  And whenever I ask them for help, they look at me like I'm a complete nutter.  You'd think it'd be refreshing but it's just extremely aggravating.

The following day, the jet lag hit me hard and I had trouble waking up. Mel has been unbelievably helpful. She got me the number for the National Health service and she helped me get an interview at the Job Centre for a NIN. Later, she took me to her GP (doctor) and tried to get me registered with them. They didn't quite go for it but they were very intrigued by a Canadian with a Welsh name. At any rate, Mel talked to them again on the phone and in a few days, I had my Health Card.  She gets things done... and did I mention she's got her doctorate?  Very intelligent.  My family is so amazing here. I just show up out of nowhere and they take me in, without question. So very cool. And so very generous.

Next, more about Cardiff and her castle...

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