Friday, February 13, 2009


Come Hell or High Water, Part 1

Through a little enthusiasm, pretty pictures, and slick advertising, we were lured into an adventure weekend on the coast of Wales. The fees we paid would cover everything, they said, and all we had to do was find our way over there. Funny, that.

Friday morning we set out for the Victoria coach station, backpacks, duffels, and rolly bags in tow. It was a gorgeous day (actually I think it was raining a little) but all we really wanted was to get to the station, get on our coach, and get to Wales – especially since the ride was scheduled to be 6 or 7 hours long. The gates were rather like an airport, but there were pigeons roosting on the display screens and the stores sold boxed sandwiches instead of high-end perfume. We arrived around 45 minutes before our departure time (12 sharp!) set down our bags and grabbed some waters. Luckily (but mostly unfortunately) we didn’t have to wait for very long. After about 10 minutes, an amiable voice lit up the station, informing us that our trip had been cancelled due to “severe weather.” Mass panic ensued.

Okay, maybe not “mass panic,” but lots of people were 1. Confused 2. Pissed and 3. Confused. Were they going to reschedule our coach? Should we wait and see? If we couldn’t get to Wales, would they refund our money? Well, as it turned out, no, no, and no. So we hightailed it, through the not-quite-pouring rain, to the Victoria train station and finagled 1 o’clock train tickets for around 36 pounds, which was possibly less than what we’d paid for our coach tickets (would we get THAT money refunded? No, probably not; they can’t control the weather.). We hopped on the next train to Swansea, wandered through the (empty) first class cars, and finally settled in a (full) layman’s car, much to my dismay. But at least we were sitting down.

An hour or so into our ride, Ryan and I moved up to a table that had freed up and joined some of our friends. Here, we met the self-proclaimed most unusual man we would ever meet.

A few hours later, we arrived at Swansea (which was still about 2-3 hours from Haverfordwest, our ultimate destination) and discovered we were a wonderful hour ahead of schedule…unfortunately, our next train was right on time. So, Mark, Emily, and I decided to wander about Swansea, rolly bags still in tow, and observe the local Swanseans in their natural habitat. A run down of the street we experienced: a bowling alley (we considered popping in for a frame) lots of closed down and graffiti’d on shops, and three booming outdoor apparel and gear stores.

Our last few hours on the train passed relatively quickly. Of course, I was sleep on a shared table for the majority of it, but I digress. When we finally made it to Haverfordwest it was full night, but our hosts were there to pick us up, and a brisk 25-minute bus ride later we were at our lodge in the Preseli Hills. We were shown to our rooms, served a delicious hot dinner, and left to enjoy the rest of our night with the comfort of a full-service bar. After an hour or so I changed into my jammies and meandered outside to soak in the starlight. Starlight’s not something you get a lot of in the city.

The ecolodge But we could see the ocean!

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