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tomandsteph’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 08 Nov 2006

Location: Peckham Ghetto, South London, England

MapA friend of ours, Anthony Kerr, gave me a call last week to say he had a spare ticket to see the Wallabies play Wales in Cardiff at the Millenium Stadium. Needless to say, I was a little excited at this opportunity, said yes without giving it a second thought and it turned out to be an amazing weekend.

We arrived in Merthyr Tydfil at a friends place about lunchtime Saturday, after a 4 hour drive from London, memorable for the ‘passport joke’, which involves a seasoned UK resident (Claire, Anthony’s girlfriend) asking the naïve, slightly excited, yet gullible Aussie traveler (Tom) if he brought his passport for entry into Wales. Needless to say I didn’t have my passport with me and that we were too far into the trip to have time to go back. I shit myself and instantly had visions of being left at the border to catch a bus back to London. For everyone else though, this proved to be a great laugh, and obviously a joke the Welsh play on all international visitors, as I lost count of the times I heard ‘so you fell for the old passport trick hey??’ during the weekend.

We caught the train into Cardiff, where the atmosphere was incredible. The whole city comes to a standstill for rugby internationals. They close off the streets and it a sea of red. The stadium is right in the heart of the city, and if the locals don’t have tickets they all still come into town and watch the game at a pub. The game was fantastic, with a 29-29 draw a good result for everyone and meaning that we got out alive. Highlights of the weekend were definitely Joey, the blowup kangaroo, having intimate relationships with more fully grown Welsh men than I care to remember! Anthony and I being invited up to sing (murder) ‘Land Down Under’ on stage in a packed Welsh pub after the whole pub had just sung Waltzing Matilda to their Australian visitors. The scenery and views surrounding the little village where we were staying, Merthyr Tydfil, about 40 minutes west of Cardiff were amazing . In was a great weekend and the hospitality shown by the Welsh people is something I’ll never forget. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed. The Welsh seem very proud of their country and keen for visitors to experience it. As we were told many times, they just ‘love the craic!’