It’s autumn in Wales, but the sunshine keeps it feeling like summer will never end. One of the only things I had heard about the UK before we arrived is that it was always raining and cloudy, but we have seen none of that! It’s coming up on a month that we have been in Wales and we have been busy bees these past weeks.
Since I last posted Jackie and I have toured around Cardiff city centre, which is a 30 min bike ride from our house. Marina, a fellow American rugby player, showed us the easiest route into the city. The area is really bike friendly, which makes life so much easier for us, as we try to navigate new roads and cities and try not to get hit when we accidentally head to the right side of the road. We met up with another American, Sabrina who has just arrived in Wales this week, and visited the National History Museum (which is free!). There is everything from fine art to interactive natural history exhibits, which our childish minds enjoyed much more. After the museum, we locked up our bikes and did some window shopping and ate lunch at a cafe. We explored Cardiff castle (the free parts) and the gorgeous park nearby. What a beautiful city!
Jackie and I parted with Marina and Sabrina, as we had a dinner date with an Expat Meetup group. Travel tip for meeting new people: Meetup.com lets you find and create any group meetings, from support groups to social nights, from business meetings to book clubs, it’s an awesome and really easy way to meet new people and see new places! And, it operates in all parts of the world- from Vermont to Cardiff. The group is operated by an expat university teacher, and we met 16 expat and Welsh “American enthusiasts” at a delicious Mexican restaurant. The conversation was lively, and the people were really interesting, definitely some new friends in the making!
The next day Jackie’s ice hockey team had a game in against Oxford, and they rented a coach bus for their team members and team supporters. Jackie has taken a coaching role on the team and helped out on the bench during the game. They ended up tying, although it should have been a win without a poor referee call in the last minutes of the game. The bus ride on the way back was a blast, as we had a few hours to socialize with Jackie’s teammates and their significant others.
I had a rugby match with Bristol against the London Wasps this past Sunday, which meant another long day of travel. It was my first time on the 1st team roster at #16, and I was pretty happy with my 20 minutes of playing time during the game. The game ended in a disappointing loss 10-19, but the building blocks of an incredible team are really apparent. Thankfully, we a free weekend, which will help us connect as a team before we play Darlington on Sunday Oct. 12. Check out the Bristol Ladies’ website for match reports and updates!
A few days ago, Jackie and I joined Marina, Sabrina, Plug (one of our hosts) and Neil (group friend) and tackled Pen Y Fan, the largest mountain in southern Britain. The peak is not a particularly long hike, just over 2 hours round trip, but it quite steep! Although we were sore and sweaty, the views were beautiful and we made some sheep friends along the way.
We have been able to get some work done as well during our free time. Jackie is working away at her Environmental Law and Policy Master’s degree with Vermont Law School and I am finishing up my application for an English Teaching Assistantship with the Fulbright Fellowship. I have an interview today, and will wrap up my application in a few days.
Jackie and I head to Amsterdam on this Monday for a 3-day trip where we will meet up with Jackie’s cousin, Danny and his wife, Nichole. It should be an awesome visit! The Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank’s house are near the center of the city and we will definitely try to see them. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions of sights to see in Amsterdam, we’d love to hear some new ones!