September 14th, 2007 – by: wade_jones22
At my friend's dad's house in Caerleon
The best way to get to know a place is by hanging out with the locals and having a local tour guide. A guide book can be a great reference material, but an actual human being to show you around really helps bring a place to life. While working in Iraq, I became friends with a guy that is a Sergeant Major in the British military. He was returning home from Iraq in September and was going to take a little vacation time with his family. I happened to be on vacation at the same time so my friend Rick invited me to come visit since he'd have time to show me around. He suggested that I come fly into Wales on the weekend of Friday September 14th since he was going to be there staying with his father. Rick, his wife, and son live in England near Stonehenge, but they decided to head to his father's house in Caerleon because Wales was playing Australia at Millenium Stadium in Cardiff that weekend for the Rugby World Cup.
Us guys before we hit the pub
After hearing promises of what a great weekend I would have if I came to this huge event, I booked a plane ticket to see Wales for the first time.
My friend Rick and his wife picked me up at the airport. I was held up in customs a bit by a suspicious immigrations agent. He saw all the stamps in my passport, many of which were from the Middle East, and he began to ask some questions. One of the questions he asked was for an address where I would be staying during my visit to Wales. Unfortunately, I did not have an address to give him which did not please the man at all. Eventually I made it out of the airport and to Rick's father's house. We didn't actually have tickets to see the Wales and Australia rugby match the next day since they were a bit pricey.
Having a good time in Cardiff
We did have plans to head down to the pubs outside the stadium to watch the game which is the next best thing to being inside the stadium there in Cardiff. Since I did not know that much about rugby, we watched a game that was on tv, drank some beers, and had a crash course in rugby rules.
Saturday Rick, his father, his brother, a buddy of theirs, and myself piled into a vehicle so that Rick's wife could drive us to Cardiff. She dropped us off up there and we just planned on taking a train back to Caerleon. We made it to Cardiff and set out to find a nice pub to watch the game in. Cardiff is an amazing city and I was absolutely delighted to be there. Everyone was dressed up either in red to support Wales or yellow for Australia.
Making friends in Cardiff
It was an incredibly festive atmosphere drawing tons of people. They even cleared the streets at one point to allow one of the royal princes' motorcade to pass down the street to Millenium Stadium to get to the game. We found a nice place about a block from the stadium with plenty of beer and big screen tvs to watch the rugby match. I do not think I would be exaggerating if I said that I was drunk within about thirty minutes of arriving. My Welsh buddies, aging father included, could put away beer at an alarming rate. I was a little bit embarrassed because I was struggling to keep up. At one point I was double fisting beers trying to catch up. I was having one of the best days ever though. We were watching the game and having a great time.
In the middle, the girl that wanted to get married
All of us were pretty outgoing people, ecspecially Rick's brother Dave. He introduced to me to about every woman that walked by. It was always the standard "This is my buddy Wade from Texas." That was enough of an introduction to get the ball rolling. People in Wales really seemed to be interested in Texas. More than once I was asked if I was a cowboy. I would usually just tell them "Yeah... You didn't see my horse parked outside?" I even had one girl tell me that she wanted to come back to Texas with me and get married. I thought she was just joking. Then she started asking how long I was in town for and telling me that I needed to meet her parents. I did not really like her that much, but I thought her friend was great.
As I got drunker, I began to talk to crazy's friend more and ignore her. This ended up starting a fight between the two and they disappeared which was good because I did not have to worry about getting completely hammered and ending up married to some random Welsh girl.
After the game was over we did a little bar hopping in Cardiff. It really was a great town and it was completely packed with people having a good time. Even after Wales lost to Australia everyone still got along pretty well. We had quite a few Aussies buy us drinks which I thought was pretty gentlemanly. We managed to make it to a train station and get on a train down towards Caerleon. This is all pretty blurry. I could not write about my night in Caerleon to save my life.
A pub in Caerleon
I know we went bar hopping there. Dave and I were the only ones out of our group that managed to make it until late in the night. I know we were still working the "Wade from Texas" thing to try and meet girls. We met some girls that wanted us to head back to their house to drink more. Dave and I sort of leaned against each other since standing without swaying was difficult and discussed this prospect. We both agreed that we were far to hammered to enjoy ourselves and politely excused ourselves to go home. I probably had one of the most fun days ever that day. I have never felt more like a celebrity in my life. I met more people than I can remember and was given more free drinks than is good for you. All of this made for a day which I'll never forget, even if I cant remember most of it.