Using My Left Thumb

Learning to hitch the opposite side of the road.

​Dublin to Heathrow. London to Bath. Bath to Cardiff.  Jumping planes and trains can get you in the habit of jumping on direct routes. It was time to really get my thumb out there again… Albeit for the first time ever I’d be using my left thumb.  

I’m such a creature of habit putting out my left thumb and hitching the opposite side of the road felt very strange. The bus driver in Wales helped me negotiate the furthest point east, which was so helpful because, as I have demonstrated before, escaping a city can often be more time consuming than hitching a ride thousands of kilometers. I found myself on the outskirts of Cardiff, at a light-       controlled roundabout with no shoulder. There was a futile attempt to walk up the ramp but it soon showed itself to be too dangerous. Luck was going to have to be on my side again as I knew the only way I was going to get a ride was to be able to make a good impression on any driver within three cars of the roundabout when they were stopped at the light.      

Oh, and of course it was raining. But rain, I believe, brings rides.

Sure enough, within 15 minutes, Gary picked me up. It was a mad hustle too get his child seat put in the boot along with my pack and soon we were on our way.  He wasn’t going far but was sure that an on ramp in Newport would be a better opinion and was willing to get me there. Gary was in a great mood because he’d just been to see his doctor and had been given the all clear to return to work after two surgeries to repair a badly broken wrist which he shattered falling off a stage in a pub in Cardiff. Sadly, he assured me it was an excellent stage diving story but a simple tail of a slightly elevated stage that was properly marked. He wasn’t even that drunk.

He dropped in the east of Newport and I hope he’ll somehow find out his intuition was spot-on because after less than a minute, Mark pulled over.  Another short trip, Mark was heading to to a small town about 40 minutes up the road. Generally pleasant, Mark is a designer of electrical engines and usually drives his electric vehicle to and from work but apparently the charging device at his home was on the fritz so he had to bring his gas vehicle to work. He’d have picked me up either way, he assured me but he felt a little better environmentally by snagging a hitched along the way.

We chatted about the Brixet vote the day before (for those less whole news savvy, Brexit was the UK referendum to leave the European Union.) Mark was disappointed in the vote because he felt that it was a vote against immigration and the Polish and Greek employees that his company had on the assembly floor were vastly harder working and more reliable than most of the employees that were from the UK.

He dropped me at a small rest area and my next ride was a little harder to get. Eventually, Briana gave me a lift to her hometown of Monmouth. I ate a fish sandwich and walked down to the highway but on my way saw this beautiful scene:

Tiny little town reminded me “The tourist gets to see what he came to see. The traveller gets to see what he sees.”


Who. What. Where. Why?

The day I got the one touristy thing out of the way. ..and it was totally worth it!

​Let’s backtrack a little bit shall we?

When I flew into Dublin I was grilled by customs immigration harder than is ever been questioned at any other pretty of call. The lovely yet sternly pleasant customs officer presented endless enquiries about the purpose of my visit, length of my stay, and my financial situation.  In her defense, I could only offer her vague answers. I never used the word hitchhiking but I kept referencing travelling and moving around. When she asked what I wanted to see in Ireland, I think my answer was something stupid like “Oh, you know. ..this and that. ” and I may have even asked something equally ludicrous like if she had any suggestions.  

I did however offer up the following explanation.  “To be perfectly honest,  the only touristy stop on my incredibly loose agenda, is to go to the Doctor Who Attraction in Cardiff, Wales.” This poor lady looked at me like my head had just fallen off, stamped my passport and told me I had 10 days to see Ireland then get the F××k out.

My guess is that she knows someone who might be a fan of the show. 

Well, pretty customs lady, I made it! And it was better than I expected.

First let me tell you that Cardiff is wonderful. I must admit that if not for Doctor Who, I’m not sure I would have known where Cardiff is. Quite frankly, it seemed that any reference is ever heard of Wales, beyond Charles being Prince thereof, it was often as the butt of a small joke. (From a Man for All Seasons: “Richard,  it profits a man nothing to gain the whole world but lose his soul…but…FOR WALES?”)         

The Doctor Who Experience certainly exceeded my expectations. I honestly thought it was a museum dedicated to the 50 year old television program but admission gets you so much more. I won’t offer spoilers except to say that the experience offers the opportunity to walk through an actual 15 episode of Doctor Who, complete with a guide selected, I am sure,  for his uncanny resemblance to David Tennant but a three dimensional interaction with Peter Capaldi.  You have to be a fan of the show,  and choose to go in with mentality of a child and willing to play along with the attraction, but if you do you’ll get to land the Tardis, fight Daleks, escape the Weeping Angels and save the universe.  

After the adventure, you’re treated to an extensive collection of props, costumes and artifacts from the 50 years of the show including the actual Face Of Boa! The actually freaking face! There are also several Cyber men including a Cyber man upgrade unit which, unfortunately you aren’t allowed to get into for “upgrading”, The Silence, K-9, three full size original Tardis sets including the complete War Doctor set, costumes from all the companions (although vastly more Clara oriented and only one Martha, which didn’t suit my Freema fetish), River Song, Jack Harkness, original outfits from all 13 Doctors and a complete set of Daleks from Darvos all the way back to one of the original Daleks from their first appearance.

Not bad for £15.  I only wish I’d been able to go when it first opened and Matt Smith was the Doctor and then was able to attend again when the doctor changed to Capaldi. The character is due to regenerate again in 2017. I think another trip to Cardiff might in my future…especially since it appears that the tourist event seems to be attracting people from all over the world… thousands per day

I loved Wales. It is beautiful. The people are friendly.

And after three days, I was finally ready to stick out my thumb again.