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06/25 Cardiff, Wales

We were awakened this morning by a loud knock on the door and shouts of "Police, Police!" We threw some clothes on and opened the door. "We think we've recovered your belongings" they said.

We looked down the hall and saw a huge pile of bags at the bottom of the stairs. Lisa jumped up and kissed the tall Police Constable. He smiled and asked us to check to see that it's all there.

We started digging through the stuff. It had obviously been dumped, then re-stuffed in the various travel bags with leftover things stuffed into large plastic bags. Since nothing was in their original bag, we couldn't tell quickly whether everything was there, but a quick look-thru indicated this was most of the stuff that was taken.

Amazing!

The manager of the B&B continued with her unfriendly ways. Her reactions to the return of our stuff were: To be pissed because she was aroused so early, and to tell us we had to hurry up and move the stuff from the hallway because it was in the way. She was keeping true to her previously exhibited poor-customer-relations personality.

We hauled all the stuff upstairs into our room, called Larry and Joan to let them know, and started sorting through it. Most of our stuff and most of Larry's and Joan's stuff was returned -- but not all.

After breakfast we had pretty much sorted what was ours and what was the Dolinsky's. We had already given notice to our grumpy host that we were leaving her dreary confines, so we packed our stuff and moved out. Larry was so unhappy with her INhospitable hospitality that he gave her a (well deserved) piece-of his mind.

Since we have to resolve the insurance payment for the window replacement on Monday, we got a room across the street at Maxines.

We walked into Maxines, and what a breath of fresh air. The entry and rooms were bright and cheerful. The staff was EXTREMELY friendly and hospitable. They were VERY distressed that our car was broken into and gear stolen in THEIR town. They couldn't be too helpful. Our rooms were very clean and very nice. The were "en suite" meaning, bathrooms included in the room.

Then we walked downtown. We had to be at the Police Station between 1:45 and 2:00 to obtain a copy of the Police report from P.C. Walker. We stopped for lunch at a Welsh restaurant. (Lisa had a vegetable pie -- I had a bowl of "Cawl" (pronounced c-owl) soup, a genuine Welsh dish. It's a broth made with lamb and vegetables with a strong flavor of lemon grass and cilantro. It was an interesting flavor.

We were at the Police Station before 2, only to find we were at the WRONG police station. We should have gone to the Canton district station -- but they called for us. We got as much of the report that they would release.

Then we walked into the downtown for Larry to get a replacement recorder. Lisa and I got an ice cream and did some window shopping on the way back to the room. We picked up a new reading light and some running gloves to replace the ones that were stolen.

In general, despite being exhausted, we were in a really happy mood, thinking about what we had THOUGHT the day would be like (replacing our stuff).

On our walk, we passed by the very impressive Cardiff Castle. (We were told that many cities in Wales have castles, and that they were built by the English to help establish their control over Wales back in the 11th century.

At 7, Larry and Joan returned from their shopping hunt. They had been unsuccessful, so will have to continue tomorrow.

We walked up the street to an Italian restaurant that had REALLY GOOD FOOD! Probably as good as anything we had in Italy, and almost as good as that meal we had in Valdivia, Chile.

Back at the B&B, Larry and I started making phone calls. We finally got to bed close to midnight.

Love to all, David and Lisa


06/26 Wales, Cardiff to Bluith-Wells

Our primary focus today was to go to the glass company and make sure the insurance company would be paying for the glass replacement. Secondarily, while waiting for that, we could be working on replacements for the items stolen.

Saturday night the glass man said to come by his office at 2 on Monday. That would give his wife a chance to contact the insurance company and get their approval. Then they would release the charge on our visa card.

In the morning we split the tasks that we could, and went off on our separate ways to work on both the joint and our individual needs. At Joan's suggestion, we all agreed to get lunch on our own and meet at the B&B at 1:00.

Our assignments were: To get the theft report mailed to the insurance company, to purchase a thank you gift for the "Ian's" (both security guards that went the extra mile for us at the sports center were named Ian), to get the police new contact info for us in case any more of our stuff turned up, to call the American Consulate (the police had told us to do this) and to make some future ferry arrangements.

Along the way, we discovered that there were paved paths for miles along both sides of the Wye River that flowed alongside the castle and into the Bristol Channel. So, when we finished our chores, we went for a run for about an hour.

We had lunch and waited for Joan and Larry at the B&B. They arrived about 1 and we headed for the glass shop. When we got there, we found that Helen had not done anything yet. For some reason she was waiting for us to get there.

Larry got her moving on faxing the info to the insurance company in France, then Joan announced she was hungry. They had not taken time to eat earlier so we headed back to the restaurant in the B&B area.

We got back about 2:15. The insurance company had not yet responded. Back to the drawing board.

Bottom line-- we finally got things resolved and headed out about 4:30. We were intent on catching up with the Odyssey group 120 miles away at Barmouth.

Our drive took us along the Wye River through the Wye Valley. Wordsworth once described the lush green countryside as having "steep cliffs," "orchard tufts," and "pastoral farms." We saw lots of fairly low and very green mountains; many, many small villages with strange names -- like "Merthyr Tydfil" and "Llyswen" and good old "Betws-y-Coed"; and miles and miles of narrow, twisty roads. By 6:30, we had traveled about 60 miles and arrived at Bluith-Wells in the Mid-lands of Wales.

Bluith-Wells and the Mid-lands area are VERY picturesque. The area is quite mountainous and very green. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! We decided to stop and eat.

The restaurant manager said we must have brought the sunshine because it's always rainy in the Midlands. But the last few days have been sunny.

While we were eating, we found that the place was also a B&B. We checked the room and the price, found them to be reasonable, and decided to stay for the night.

We met a couple from Bahrain. He was a helicopter pilot. She worked for an American company. They had traveled quite a bit. We told them about our invite from the Sheik to visit his place in Qatar and go for a safari in the sand dunes. The couple told us an "invitation" from a Sheik is not something you can turn down. (I wonder what that means?)

Love to all, David and Lisa


06/27 Bluith-Wells, Wales to Dublin, Ireland

Up early this morning. Beautiful, sunny day. Good breakfast -- but a bit boring. It seems a "cooked breakfast" in the British Isles (so far) means eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, cooked tomatoes and toast. EXACTLY the same every morning, no matter where you are.

We had a disagreement among us whether to bike first and then drive to the ferry or drive to the ferry first then bike in Hollyhead. After two hours of non-discussion and procrastination, we ran out of time. This sounds ridiculously stupid, we realize. But it happened. Maybe we're all just more stressed out than we think about the events of the past few days. The decision was made by default. We drove to Hollyhead.

We spent a few hours discussing our communication and decision-making processes, and how they can be improved. We found some misunderstandings and resentments were being harbored. We think the discussion helped clear the air and hope it will be a help in our future communications and decision making. Time will tell.

As yesterday, the drive continued through green, verdant mountains. We passed mile after mile of rock walls constructed from the native rock. There were field after field of lush green, hilly meadows sprinkled with the white spots of sheep. Many were recently shorn, yet quite a few were unshorn. (Were we in the midst of sheering season? We never found out.)

Along the way we passed through a large town that looked like a mining town. It was in the midst of a ...

The people looked like they could have been from the coal mines of West Virginia. Empty, tired faces. Knowing that tomorrow will be the same as today, which was the same as yesterday, and so on.

Sad.

The weather continued to be beautiful, all the way to Hollyhead. We arrived with a few hours to spare. We got our ticket for the car. Then we spent the time talking to an Irishman and fellow ferry rider who was returning home from London, and, mostly, telling interested and concerned Odyssey riders about our ordeal with the car break-in.

The ferry left on time -- 6:45. It was a twin hulled ferry, and it rode smooth as silk. (Of course, the calm seas of the St. Georges Channel helped.)

We arrived in Ireland at 8:30. We were greeted on the way in by hundreds of private sail boats. We don't know why, but it was a nice reception.

We drove to our TK&A lodging place, the UCD (University College Dublin) Village and got our room assignments -- single rooms for everyone. Each apartment has three dorm rooms, a kitchen, a shower room, and a bathroom with a tub, a sink and a toilet. Pretty nice digs.

Because the ferry got in so late, we missed the regular meal. So, TK&A bought stacks of pizzas and bottles of soda for the late arrivees. (Can you imagine what went on at the pizza place when they got the call for 50 large pizzas to be delivered at 9 o'clock???)

Love to all, David and Lisa


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