Neal’s Birthday Trip to Wales

I wanted to surprise Neal with a trip for his birthday weekend. Previous birthday celebrations have consisted of camping trips or soccer games (Timbers, Sounders, or even better, Timbers v. Sounders. RCTID). This birthday was going to be monumentally different due to our relocation and I wanted to blend a little tradition with the excitement of visiting a new country. A quick online search of upcoming events gave me the answer I had been searching for. The professional soccer teams Manchester United and AC Milan were to play in Cardiff, Wales on Neal’s birthday. It was perfect. We had never talked about traveling to Wales before, so I knew it would be a true surprise and golden opportunity to explore a nearby country.

After a hour flight, we had landed in Wales’ capital city, Cardiff. We lucked out with our AirBnB location, a happening neighborhood called Pontcanna. While wandering, we stumbled upon two different food cart markets where local folks and their dogs were enjoying the evening. We tried local brews and liquid nitrogen-made ice cream. Dinner was at a funky pizza joint that we would have never found if it wasn’t for the internet. Its location was almost hidden down a gravel path with absolutely no signage. It reminded us so much of home, Portland, OR. No wonder we were loving it.

Neal’s birthday was a soccer filled day. Prior to the evening’s much anticipated professional match, we got to see the finale of the 2019 World Homeless Cup. Soccer teams from all over the world had come to Cardiff to compete, and it was absolutely free to attend. I had previously watched a documentary on the yearly event, and it was awesome to witness in person. We also got to explore Cardiff’s green spaces and charming city center, known for shopping arcades, prior to the big game. The professional match did not disappoint, ending in penalty kicks.

The last full day was spent exploring Cardiff Castle, located right in the city center. We really took our time there and enjoyed it much more than we expected. As we headed back towards the AirBnB, we heard some sort of local sports game happening and I was determined to see if we could watch. It happened to be a cricket match, and they let us in the stadium for free. I’m really enjoying learning about new sports that I’ve had zero introduction to previously. Cricket is complicated, but the crowd was going wild and it was really enjoyable to watch.

I think this trip was a win. -Shelby

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