Sunday, May 3, 2009

London II

The next day we woke at noon for the soccer match at around 3:30. We went to the local grocery store and then headed to a friend's flat where we had some cheese and drank some drinks. After about an hour we got on the Tube to head over to the stadium. It was only a few stops but by the time we reached our destination the entire train was full of Fulham supporters. The vast majority of the train disembarked on a very small platform and we began walking with the crowd.

Every expectation I had of match day was fulfilled. All the local pubs were packed and roads were closed as crowds of people headed toward the stadium. Mounted police stood in large numbers to the side of the roads and loomed over the crowd. We went into a pub and the atmosphere was great. The entire place was packed and everyone was excited for the match. I grabbed a beer and took in the scenery before heading to the stadium. We got to the stadium, entered and found our seats. The seats that Alex's friend, Emily, had gotten were amazing. We were facing Fulham's home goal and were three rows back. Because the stands are slightly recessed below the field we were maybe two or three feet above field level. It was incredible, we were right in the action and so close. It also helped that the weather was sunny and fantastic.

The match started pretty slowly but Fulham managed to score midway through the half. The entire crowd erupted in celebration and I was pretty excited myself. Slightly before half time I went to grab a beer but was told that they didn't start selling beer until after the half. This didn't make much sense to me. At sporting events in the States they only sell beer at the beginning of the game. It was pretty strange.

The second half was pretty slow as well with Fulham holding Stoke City to a draw. With the match over we headed home and stopped in a restaurant for some real fish and chips. They were darn tasty and I'm glad I had the chance to try some.

Tired from the day, we all took a nap and woke up around 9 or 10. Because Alex's roommate didn't approve of a boy staying with her I was sleeping in her friend Steph's room down the hall. Steph decided to stay in so Alex and I went back to Diana's apartment to pregame and then go to a club in Camden. Once we were suitably pregamed we headed over to Camden only to find all the bars full because of some pub crawl. None of the bouncers would let us in so we bought some more drinks and then went to a kebab stand. I didn't order a kebab but talked to some disgusting, dirty, drunk british woman whose bra strap kept falling down.

The lady was filthy and also a bitch. She was doing a Fulham chant so I joined in and she noticed and decided to talk to me. This was a mistake. She started to tell me how Americans know nothing about 'soccer' (which she said derisively). I told her I liked 'football' and she asked what club I liked. Knowing that lots of people don't like Chelsea I told her that I didn't want to but eventually she forced it out of me. She wasn't too happy and got even more upset when I told her that Frank Lampard was a cutie. Apparently, Frankie used to play for some other club and when he transferred to Chelsea he said something about wanting to score on his home club. According to this woman that made Frank Lampard a bastard. I was starting to think that this lady was going to fight me when her friend got sick of hearing her flirt/yell at me and left. Two minutes later the lady realized this and took off, but not before giving me a lovely kiss goodbye. I made sure to wash my cheek afterwards.

With no club to go to we just headed back to Diana's and started drinking again. After an hour or so we decided to get on the roof. This was a great decision.

Diana was nicely situation in downtown London and her roof had a great view of the London Eye and other nice sights. We sat on the roof for an hour, took in the scenery and had some drinks. It was a great experience. By the time we got back inside it was 5 in the morning so Alex and I spent the night there and went home in the morning.

My flight left Sunday night at around 8 but that still meant I had most of the day to do stuff. Our first stop was the British Museum.

The British Museum was huge and if you took the time to examine everything you would be there for weeks. Instead, Alex and I checked out the highlights and then just perused the rest of the collection. The coolest thing they had by far was the Rosetta Stone. They also had some neat Samurai armor, cool Muslim artifacts (including a massive jade turtle) and ancient artifacts.

Getting out of the British Museum, we went back to Camden from the night before and hit up Camden Market. Camden market is a big hodge podge and shops and food stands with a counter-cultural aspect to it. I grabbed some Nigerian food (the first I have ever had) and then we went shopping. There were great record shops with some great old albums in them but I figured it would be too hard to get them home so I held back. As we walked around there was some cool dude just blasting funky tunes from these huge speakers. He was selling these funk CD's that looked like he burned them on his computer and then made a cheap label for them. But, I had some money to spend so I asked him what he recommended. He suggested "All Funked Up 2: More Seriously Funky Grooves" and I decided it was a good investment.

We walked through the rest of the market and then headed back to Alex's. I packed up my things and headed to the bus stop to take my ride back the Airport. My flight back to Prague was uneventful and I got back around midnight.

My trip to London was really enjoyable. I had the most time there out of my trips and I was glad for it. The city is very big and I was glad I had the extra time to see what I wanted. The football match was also a nice cherry on top. And, even though I was tired of traveling, London was a perfect place to finish because it felt so much like home. The stores had Doritos, sandwich shops were everywhere, you could get Dr. Pepper, etc. (they don't have those things in Prague). 

Before I applied to study abroad I initially wanted to go to London. I eventually decided against it and went with Prague but part of the reason why I visited Alex was to see what my experience would have been like. In essence, I wanted to see if I made the wrong choice. I loved London but I think that I made the right choice going with Prague. 

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