Alright where were we?
The next morning was a bit odd I I found myself alone in the big city. Everyone honored the original plan and departed from the hostel at about 4 AM to get to the airport on time off in the outskirts of northeast London.
After the disorientation dissipated and the breakfast settled in, I made my way to Hyde Park on a rainy and miserable St. Patty’s Day. Hyde Park is one of the most known parks in London and for good reason.
One particular corner of Hyde Park is known as Speaker’s corner where, conveniently on Sundays, anyone can come can become an orator to the anxiously awaiting public. Sometimes its more of a lecture and others serve as intellectual dialogue.
I listened to one speaker in particular who was talking about the lack of competitiveness in the British economy and how they should divert money from making arms and weapons to education. Surprisingly, the Irishmen met with some opposition from the crowd as a few spectators made the point that foreigners aren’t buying British manufactured items as they used to with the rise of the NICs and sweatshop-esque labor. Following that logic they asserted that Britain should continue to manufacture arms as that will always be a market that they can compete in. A very worthwhile discussion that brought up the United States a lot…..I kept my mouth shut for fear of any backlash. Americans aren’t necessary hated or despised abroad but the actions of the former administration certainly are. This I can say for certain.
I traversed from the Northeastern corner to the southwestern corner of the park and made my way to a pub that I thought would show the upcoming Chelsea FC game. To my shock and awe, the bouncers told me, “Not today,” and sent me on my way. My plan was in shambles so after a bit of thinking I decided I could just watch the game in the hostel. I hoped on the tube at Earl’s Court and made my way to Wimbledon. On the tube I ran into two guys from the Canary Islands asking me if I knew how to get tickets for the game today. I told them in Spanish that there are ticket scalpers outside the stadium that sell them but they’ll be rather expensive. However this didn’t deter them as they got off at Fulham Broadway. Me? I made it one stop after the stadium and switched paths back to try my own luck.
Time to cross it off the bucket list. I exited the special exit only used on stadium days and was hounded by ticket scalpers immediately. I asked one how much and I was told 70 pounds which is $105. I told him I would return promptly to get some money out and when I returned I got my ticket and surely enough the ticket was retail 70 pounds. I thoroughly questioned the economics of their money making venture as it clearly seemed frowned upon but perhaps not illegal…I’ll never know.
My seats were high up in the West Stand but there really wasn’t a bad seat in the house. Surprisingly Stamford Bridge (the name of the stadium) is actually one of the smallest in their league holding about 45,000. The team has been trying to expand or move but that is easier said than done in a metropolis such as London.
Without getting into too much detail the game was great! Chelsea dominated West Ham and won 2-0 courtesy of a Super Frank Lampard header, his 200th of his Chelsea career, and a spectacular individual effort from the Belgian maestro Eden Hazard. Easily the best birthday present I could ever imagine.
After the game it was nearly impossible to get anywhere! Everyone made their way to the tube station including the visiting contingent who hailed from the east end of London….on the same line as Chelsea….someone didn’t plan that correctly. Luckily no one was heading south towards Wimbledon and I headed back to the hostel after a long and exciting day.
My last day in London was spent walking a lot and so much so that my beloved vans (shoes) died. A hole on the canvas and cracked sides plus all the rain London had to offer did not sit well with my feet.
I tragically buried my beloved companions and made way for some Adidas Sambas. Classy looking and great walking shoes.
I picked them up on Oxford Street which is also part of Bond Street, the major street for shopping for anyone interested. After that debacle I headed over to Trafalgar Square, a cool place to meet friends to gaze at the spectacle that is the city of London. It’s known for its museum on sight and a giant pillar with lions adorning the bottom portion. Word to the wise, Londoners do not like when you climb on the lions…so I’ve been told.
Conveniently for me there were a few sights close to Trafalgar Square for me to see while I was in the neighborhood. To the south a bit is Downing Street, a British equivalent of the White House. For those LVCers that represented Britain in the EU simulation I’ll be sure to post a picture. I found it kind of strange but neat that I’m sure there are people that could walk by Downing Street and not know what it is. Aside from the 24/7 security it looks like any other piece of London which I think is symbolic of the city and the people.
That’s basically about it from my London Trip!
This week is Semana Santa, a week filled with religious processions and festivals and Valladolid is supposed to have one of the best in the country so that will be the contents of my next entry.