12.04.2014 36 °F
Today was quite the travel day! We started the day off by getting up much earlier than usual so that we could hit the road and make sure we get to Cardiff in time to turn in our rental car. Tenby is about an hour and a half away from Cardiff and we wanted to leave a little after 7:30 to ensure that we would make our 10:00 deadline to turn the car in. The majority of our drives take slightly longer than calculated so we felt leaving earlier would be the safer option! We all rolled out of bed and, after a few minutes of packing up, we headed down to enjoy another delicious breakfast. The owner of our bed and breakfast was kind enough to let us eat breakfast at 7:00, even though they do not normally start serving until 8:30. We all ordered the same traditional english breakfast consisting of bacon, sausage, toast, a fried egg, and even hash browns this time! We all ate our meal and ended up chatting with the owner for a half hour about how long he has been running a bed and breakfast and about what his kids are currently up to. It turns out that one of them is serving in the armored division, which is the same one where La'akea served (granted, for different countries). Once we saw that it was already 7:40 we excused ourselves and thanked the owner for a fantastic breakfast before heading back up to our room to finish checking out and pack up the car.
We soon pulled away from Tenby, which was remarkably gorgeous during our one night stay (we had a fantastic evening on the beach yesterday), and headed off in the direction of Cardiff! It was a fairly simple drive but it did end up taking us around 2 hours to reach Cardiff. We had another beautiful drive through the welsh countryside full of rolling grass hills littered with sheep as far as the eye can see. We were fortunate not to get stuck behind a truck this time as well! I was in and out of sleep in the back seat of the car for the last half hour of the drive and I fully woke up just in time to see that we were pulling into our final destination: a Morrisons Supermarket. Lucky for us, there was a gas station right there so we topped off the tank before going inside to where Europcar's main office was oddly placed. We turned in the car, to make sure we beat the 10:00 deadline (we did by around 10 minutes), and then asked if we could pick up some snacks in the store before they took us back to Cardiff Central train station. La'akea picked up a few bags of trail mix while Kaela and I got some conditioner, since Kaela has been desperately wanting it for the past several days. After we checked out we headed back over to the Europcar counter and had a quick ten minute ride over to the main train station.
Once we arrived at Cardiff Central, we weren't sure what to do because it was only 10:15, but our train wasn't scheduled to leave until 11:55. We decided to head into the train station to see if we could hop on an earlier train but it turns out, because we bought these tickets for a discounted fair ahead of time, that it would cost us a fairly significant amount of money. We decided to just walk through the main shopping area looking for small souvenirs relating to Wales. We originally decided to do this because La'akea was looking for some gifts for friends; Kaela and I ended up getting a few things as well! After shopping around for an hour we headed back over to the train station to wait for our train. We got to our platform 20 minutes early and patiently awaited for our train's arrival. Once our train arrived we found our seats with no problem and the train ended up being around 20% full so we had plenty of room to spread out. Kaela napped on and off for the majority of the ride while I watched the Welsh and English country sides flash by our window. Our ticket was scheduled to take us all the way back to London Paddington Station but we got off a few stops early to take another train to Oxford. However, upon doing this, problems quickly arose.
We tried to exit the train station but the turnstile would not accept our ticket! The guards soon saw what was happening and came up to La'akea to find out what was wrong. It turns out, since we had a special fare ticket, we were not allowed to exit until we got all the way back to London! I guess the guards took pity on us and they printed us out three tickets and let us pay from them within the terminal. We walked up the platform and were able to make a train that left one minute later! I guess it worked out perfectly. Once we arrived in Oxford, La'akea's homeland, we quickly grabbed a taxi and headed over to our apartment! We got to our apartment and, after we rang the bell a few times, the day manager came out and welcomed us into and showed us around the apartment. Our apartment is absolutely amazing! We have a sun room off of the bedroom that leads into a fairly spacious (and green) backyard for staying in the city. We all agreed that we have to have a few friends over during our stay to make the best use of the space we have available.
We relaxed at our new bed and breakfast for only a few minutes before heading out to meet Pipa and Pan for lunch; they are friend's of La'akea's from his time at Oxford, yet are still here studying. We met outside one of their favorite local restaurants but we just missed the lunch window! We headed over to another restaurant, Cleaver, and we all settled for burgers. Unfortunately, the waiter mixed up a few of our orders but the food was still delicious! We enjoyed getting to know each other over a delicious meal, and Pan was glad to hear that I played American Football since he plays on Oxford's team, and agreed to meet up again later in the night for a few pints. We took another taxi back to the apartment and relaxed for a few hours. La'akea went for a run, since he is trying to make sure he is in shape for his soccer game on saturday, which Kaela and I are both very excited to attend! He scored two goals last weekend and we are excited to see if he can replicate his latest form. Around 19:00 we started to get ready to head out again. We were planning on having a full "Oxford" night that consists of visiting various pubs and ending with a street kebab like no other.
We started the night off by heading over to one of the more famous pubs in Oxford: the Turf Tavern. This pub is extremely difficult to find unless you already know what it is! You have to walk through a very skinny alley and pass several dumpsters and trash cans before finally arriving at the front door. The foundations of the building date back to the 13th century and the front bar area dates back to the 17th century. Since this building is incredibly old, the ceilings are quite low. Kaela and I could not stand up fully straight without hitting our head! It was impossible. We all ordered a local pint and took it out to the back deck to enjoy, since there weren't any seats inside at the time. Within 10 minutes or so Pipa came to join us and we finished our round together until we decided that it was simply too cold to stay outside at this particular pub any longer! When we left we went to go meet up with Pan at the Kings Arms pub. We decided to head inside and get a pint here, even though it was rather early (considering that this pub is open the latest), so that we could warm up. We headed inside and we all got the same christmas special beer and we had a great time hanging out inside. Pan and I spent a large majority of the time talking American Football strategy and I enjoyed discussing the various intricacies of the Run-n-Shoot with him, since it is something that I am extremely passionate about. After we finished our round, we headed out and decided to go to the next place on the docket for tonight: The House. At this particular pub, they specialize in mixed drinks. Kaela was able to get a tropical drink that was very tasty while I copied La'akea and got his favorite drink, the Sazerac. It involves a bourbon based drink while having the glass washed in absinthe. It was quite delicious and different than anything I have had before. We bounced around at this location as well, since seats at the various pubs seemed to come at a premium tonight, until we eventually found a location where we could all sit down. We all had another great time catching up and discussing various topics that came up. Once we left The House, we said goodbye to Pipa and Pan before heading back to the Kings Arms for one more pint to finish the night off.
Back at Kings Arms we had one of La'akea's favorite beers, which shall remain nameless for the time being since I simply tell him to order another one of whatever he is having (since he is quite the beer connoisseur). We enjoyed our round sitting at a back table and we happened to run into one of La'akea's old friends from his time at Oxford! They causally referred to him as "the Hawaiian guy" since he was the only one that went to Saint John's (and he seemed to be OK with it). A short while later, La'akea's friend came back and informed us that he is currently working at the Lamb and Flag, which is the local Saint John's pub where the proceeds are actually used for scholarships to assist individuals from lower income families. Drinking for a positive change! We promised that we would go visit him during shift tomorrow and, after finishing our round, we headed out for the night and started walking home.
However, what night in Oxford would be complete without a Kebab to finish it. We stopped by La'akea's favorite Kebab stand that he visited multiple times weekly during his time here. We made the five minute walk over to the kebab stand and we made it simple and all ordered the same chicken kebab plate with garlic and chile sauce. Immediately after getting our food we hopped in a taxi and headed back to our apartment to relax. We started watching the movie "Real Geniuses" while devouring our midnight snack. After 20 minutes or so, it became apparent that we would not be able to make it through the conclusion of the film (Kaela was half asleep at this point) and we decided to pick it up at a later date. Both Kaela and La'akea are both fast asleep right now and I plan on being close behind them! Tomorrow will be a full day of sightseeing around Oxford with none other than an Oxford man as our personal tour guide. Until then!
Justin and Kaela
La'akea and the "Panda" the he drove coast to coast in Wales!
Scenic pictures of the frozen Welsh countryside on our drive from Tenby to Cardiff
Sleepy Kaela on the train from Cardiff
Our awesome apartment in Oxford!
The Lamb and Flag...We will be seeing you tomorrow
First pint of the night! And, historically speaking, quite the location to have it in
At the Turf Tavern? I guess we'll never know for sure...
The Kings Arms
Need to make a phone call?