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Cardiff (Day 7)

Hmm, I keep putting my good stories on Facebook, which means I'm left with little to write about here. Maybe I should switch over exclusively to FB?

Today was St Fagans, an open-air museum wherein the Welsh have hauled up all manner of old buildings, arranged them prettily in a 100-acre plot, scattered the rest of the space with livestock, gardens, and nice paths for humans, and then let anyone in free who wants to be let in. It's sort of part park, part museum. Quite nice, if a bit random at times.

Followers of Jonobie's dorkiness scale should know that the scales dipped today, but did not fall to zero on account of the fact that part of the reason for the St Fagans trip was that it was the filming site of one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes, Human Nature. So, if you're wondering, yes, Jonobie is still a nerdy dork.

Pictures from "the lost day" when I didn't have internet access can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2680493&l=1830e97ddd&id=637646375 - if start there, you'll end up on today's pictures right after.
If you want to jump directly to today's pictures, see here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2681450&l=45044f60a2&id=637646375

This evening, I was pretty tired and wanted to go someplace to eat that met two requirements: One, that it let me in without pre-calling for a booking, and two, that it be relatively quiet. The first two places I looked in were madhouses (apparently everyone in Cardiff eats out on Saturday night), so I kept walking until I finally found what looked like a Cafe that was only half full. Without looking at the name or menu, I strolled in and asked for a table.

It was only after sitting down that I realized I was surrounded by Americana, the menu in front of me was full of burgers, and the waitress is both surprised and unnerved by my accent. (I definitely get "noticed" here when I talk far more than I ever did in London -- many tour guides seem both surprised and happy that I've come from so far away to see Wales. But this is the first time someone seemed fluttery or nervous around me because of my accent.) Yes, I somehow managed as an American in Cardiff to find what is probably the only American restaurant in Cardiff. Go figure. I then noticed that the place was called a "Diner" (though no Diner I've ever been in sports flowered tablecloths or takes reservations.)

Of course, one's native cuisine viewed through another culture's eyes is rarely quite like it is at home. I decided immediately that I was going to go for a veggie burger, as I've been feeling a bit meat-heavy. Thus decided, I ordered a garlic-mayo veggie burger and some onion rings, and waited to see what I'd get.

First up, a knife and fork arrives. I have no idea if this is intended for the burger or not, as no one near me is eating yet. I decide that as an American in an American restaurant abroad, I am uniquely qualified to eat with my hands. Then some sort of weird condiment tray arrives. I identify the red stuff as ketchup, although it seems to have onions and relish in it, but the yellow stuff has me flummoxed. It's not mustard, I think, as it has CORN in it. Lots of corn. And kind of a vinegary taste. It's not bad, but I don't know what you do with it. I stare at it for a while, dip my onion rings (good, though more batter than I'm used to) in the ketchup and munch away.

I then notice that most of the diners around me are drinking tea or a glass of wine with their burgers. I nearly burst out laughing, because this is such an odd-looking combo. But it makes sense; people here often seem to drink wine with dinner (it's about as common as beer), and in my experience, beverages are the things people tend to keep the same, regardless of cuisine. I notice they have Dr. Pepper in the case (wow, haven't EVER seen that over here before) and get some of that. It's made with sugar instead of corn syrup. Yum.

Then my burger arrives. It is, well, literally, a garlic-mayo burger. There is so much mayo on top of the burger that I can't see the actual patty. After I scrape about 3T off of it, it looks normal again; a taste of the mayo reveals that it is indeed garlicky and yummy. The problem comes when I want to put the stuff on the side on the burger. There is lettuce, which is good, but the tomatoes are ... wedges. Not exactly useful for putting on the burger. There are also cucumber slices, which I assume is because this is a veggie burger, not because someone's confused the tomatoes with the cucumbers. All up, it tastes good, though I would have preferred some tomato.

When I paid and left, I noticed that this is the one place I've been where the service fee is not included with the meal -- they mention this in big letters on the menu. Odd that of American customs, this is one they decided to keep. Anyhow, a fun trip.