Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another Boring Trip Story: London


Though I may call this a boring trip story, this excursion was in no way, shape, or form boring for me. It began innocently enough with the usual trip to Uppsala Centralstation – it's become customary for me to take a bus to the station, but walk back on my return leg – the 260 SEK round-trip ticket to Stockholm-Arlanda airport, printing out my boarding pass at the airport, scurrying through security, and waiting impatiently at the gate to get it all on with. Though, this time, I had to, somewhat oddly, get my passport stamped before heading to my gate.

The Boeing-767 I flew to London on was the nicest plane I've been on. The British Airways vessel made me feel as though I was in business class, when in reality, I was smack in the middle of coach. I must admit, though, that in spite of the free beverage and Daily Mail newspaper, the complimentary Chicken, Cheddar, and Mustard Chutney sandwich left something to be desired.

We landed right on time, and after waiting in the kilometer-long customs line, I made my way to the Heathrow tube station. It was around 9 pm when I sat down for the 50-minute long tube journey on the Piccadilly Line. Strangely, as soon as I felt I had escaped from the old "hearing nothing but Swedish in public places" dilemma, a foursome of juvenile Swedish girls began gawking away.

Dear friend Daniel met me at the Gloucester Road tube station, and after a stop at the all-important liquor store, we trudged to his dorm. We nursed some Scotch, guzzled some beers, and left for a four story bar. With its live music and bustling energy, this Irish bar made for a good time. After a few hours, we hailed a cab, along with the friends we had joined there, and headed back to the dorm.

I should add here, that although I'm not going to disclose why, I ended up sleeping in three different places in the three nights I spent there. I'll leave you with the fact that I had no choice.

Anyway, on we go. We awoke rather early, maybe 9 or 10ish, and stepped on the Piccadilly Line once again, again heading Eastward, but this time towards a certain Arsenal stop. Anyone who has spoken to me for more than 10 minutes probably knows that its hard to stop me babbling about my beloved Gunners. Being in London, and Arsenal happening to have a match in North London, I figured I'd drag Dan along to see if we could conjure up some tickets.

We got off at the Arsenal and walked excitedly up the tunnel. A good friend back at BC had given me some tips on how to find spares, so we tried all of those. After lacking success, we asked around for spares, and oddly – I don't know how anyone could think of this – were directed to the Emirates Stadium box office. Apparently, they were selling Will Call tickets people had failed to retrieve on time.

We got in line, but, to our amazed chagrin, the folks in front of us snagged the final tickets. Discouraged, we walked back the way we had come, hoping something would fall into our laps. It then did. A somewhat mysterious, but business-like, fellow approached us, probably seeing the Arsenal crests in my eyes and disappointment on my face, and offered us tickets. £125 each, he said. Done, I said. After following him into a sidestreet, he pulled the folded tickets from his shoes, and the transaction was completed.

I then began to think it was too good to be true, and started to worry whether they were authentic tickets or not, especially because they lacked any barcode. At this point, I was shaking in anticipation for the moment when I would finally step gloriously through the turnstiles. I couldn't even put down my share of a four-pack Dan and I purchased.

We walked up the steps that lead to the Emirates itself, my knees wobbling profusely. Our intent was to attempt to enter long before the match started, so if we had been shammed, there would be some hope of beating the shite out of the crooked vendor. No problem. We got in.

We walked through the tunnel, and the beautiful, sun-brightened grass came into view. We examined the row number on our tickets, then those on the side of each seats. To our amazement, we kept walking towards the pitch. Finally, we stopped 11 rows from the lot of orange-clad ushers. I was sat directly on line with the middle of the goal. I almost cried.

The rest is irrelevant, other than that I had a goofy smile on my face the entire match, which Dan can verify, and the drunk Englishman spouting his mouth the entire match. Admitedly, I quite enjoyed the "ABC, 123, City girls have got VD" cheer he employed, but the rest was, to borrow an English expression, rubbish.

The match itself was wonderful. Arsenal never looked second-best, and thoroughly dismantled the shambolic Manchester City XI. Robinho was awful, and it was great to jeer him in person.

Anyway, I'm going to stop gaga-ing about the Arsenal, as I'm quickly running out of blogging steam but still want to talk about the rest of my trip.

After the match, we headed back to Kensington for a much needed nap. We then met some of Dan's friends for a pre-party drink, then headed to what some may describe as a rave. Ecstasy was present, and the environment at the place, called The Ministry of Sound, put me into a trance-like state. I should add that I did not, in fact, take ecstasy.

We headed home after nearly inciting a brawl, and after walking around Kensington a bit and seeing the exterior of the Royal Albert Hall, I fell asleep.

The next day, in order, consisted of tossing a football in Hyde Park, eating fish and chips, going to Harrods (which includes perusing their vast liquor and cigar collections and eating Krispy Kreme donuts), going to a pub, smoking some Cubans while sipping on Scotch, then going to bed.

The next morning, Dan and I parted ways, as he had class to attend, and I explored Trafalgar Square before returning to where I now sit, in Uppsala.

I leave for Vienna tomorrow, so expect Another Boring Trip Story in the middle of next week. Meanwhile, I'm going to work on getting some pictures available to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment