Sunday, May 29, 2011

UEFA in London

London has been an even more excitable city this past week being the host of the UEFA Championship matches. Hyde Park hosted an 8 day free festival with a variety of events. The most important was getting your picture taken with the cup.

Here I am with the Women's cup.

Then, we turned the corner and saw the men's cup! The line was pretty long and I made a B-line to it. Hubby looked at me and said, "Are you serious? This line must be an hour long! Are you really going to wait?" All I said was, "Yes." So he disappeared for a while and brought me back a bottle of water. I was still only 1/2 way there, so he disappeared again until I texted him that I was next and to rush back over.

I got into position and he went to take my picture. The nice woman there said, "How about both of you. A family picture." Hubby responded with, "No thanks. Just her." I had to laugh! They were honestly surprised that he did not care.

The men's cup!

Tickets for the men's game Saturday were impossible to get. It was reported here that some people paid up to £3,500 for some tickets. That's about $7,700 (approximately). For ONE ticket! I opted for the £5 tickets to the women's game. And they did not disappoint. It was a French team vs. a German team. France one 2-0 and was interesting the entire time. It was hosted in Fulham and lots of locals were disappointed they did not work harder to promote the game. Fulham has a really neat old stadium. I will return for more matches there. I'm sure they will not cost £5 however.

Saturday came around and all I could think about is: Where are we going to watch the men's game? We're walking through The British Museum and I am hardly looking around because I'm too busy searching for pubs that have TV's and Sky Sports. Over two hours before the game even started, I said, "We have to find a place NOW." Once again, hubby thought I'm crazy.

We walked by and stuck our heads in several pubs. We finally settled on one and even got a table! I came prepared with two games in my bag. We ordered 2 pints and started playing card games.

When hubby went to get the 2nd round and order dinner, he came back and said, "I don't know how to tell you this, but the kitchen is closed and all they have are nuts and crisps." I looked at him like he had 3 heads and said, "That won't work. We need food. Let me look for a place." So I looked on my phone and headed out. I came back a bit later with Subway! I haven't had that in so long and it was delicious. Made me think of all my old coworkers back in California. We were obsessed with eating there! Not a bad place to frequent.

So we watched Machester United lose. :( Oh well, we were surrounded by about 30 people in this small room upstairs above the bar and more people down below. What a fun night in the streets - before the match. Pretty much went directly to bed after the match! It was a long day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Place of Yes...

My Place of Yes - thanks Bethenny, lead me to an amazing adventure on a motor scooter with a private tour of London's best shopping & dining! This is how it all began:

I decided I would try again today to get set up with a SIM only card on my shitty unlocked G1 phone until we can get properly set up with mobile phones and broadband at home. T-mobile & Vodofone don't open on Mondays until 9:30am, however CarPhoneWarehouse opened at 9am. They are like a broker for all the different brands.

While waiting on help there, I bonded with a woman over our love/hate relationship with phones & technology. I advised her to stick with an Android device, but for her sanity on battery life avoid the HTC devices. I absolutely love their overlay and I put up with carrying a charger around with me because I loved it so much, but it's just not practical. I wished her luck and went to Vodofone to get my SIM card.

Upon checking out in Vodofone, there she was again! We started chatting and she clearly knew I'm from America because of my accent. She went to school in the states and I told her I arrived in London 3 weeks ago and I'm here for one year. It's been very difficult getting set up with everything and she felt my pain. Then, Emma, invited me to coffee! I of course said yes, and it was fantastic.

Thank goodness I had my notebook with me today because she gave me the BEST run down of all the fantastic shopping all over London and the most amazing places to eat. I took notes with such passion trying to get all the street names and all the details she rattled off! An hour and a half went by so quickly.

She was so overjoyed about some of these areas, she insisted on showing them to me personally! At that very moment! She did not need to be at work until 2 and her little motor scooter was just nearby!

If you know me at all, the only mode of transportation I have been in besides the usual car, bus, train, plane etc. is my bicycle. My self-powered bicycle. I grew up in the country of Southern Illinois and had many girlfriends that had older brothers with 3 wheelers and 4 wheelers. I turned down countless offers for rides. I just didn't trust any of them and I knew they just wanted to show off. I did not want to end up dead. However, I said yes today and for the next two hours Emma took me ALL OVER London on her motor scooter! It was absolutely fantastic!

It was an experience of a lifetime. I wish I had photos, but honestly, I was holding on those "oh shit" bars on the side the entire time! I do have the helmet hair to prove it though. We exchanged contact information and I hope to treat her for dinner at one of her fab recommendations soon! It's good to say yes!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A wedding, a move premier & everything fancy - Oh my!

London is amazing in many ways. We've been here 2.5 weeks now and it's a roller coaster ride for sure. I've had the good fortune of being here at one of the most exciting times in my generation: The Royal Wedding of Will & Kate. Or should I now call them the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge!

So last Friday hubby and I head out to meet up with our friends to get a seat along The Mall area somewhere for the parade route. I was skeptical because the crowd they were predicting was massive. I didn't want to get in the middle of a riot. Well, now I know better. Everyone was so polite and nice. Not a lot of shoving or yelling. It was totally foreign to me! And when people in front of us got up on someones shoulders, other people behind us said, "Hey - please get down. We can't see from back here." And they did! No yelling, no complaining, no fights. I was amazed.

Aside from the shock of the tone of the crowd, we were in a pretty good spot and got some OK photos. My friend, on top of her husband's shoulders got some GREAT shots, but mine were just ok.

The Queen!

Then, just by luck, the opened the gates and we got to walk down The Mall and into the circle in front of Buckingham Palace to watch the balcony appearance. I was simply amazed at how close we actually got!

2nd Balcony Kiss

Just when I thought things in London couldn't get any better: the London red carpet & premier of Water for Elephants was yesterday. I messaged two friends about going and neither of them could make it. The thought actually crossed my mind that I would just stay at home. But then I decided to say yes, I will go - alone. Then the thoughts came into my head, what if I can't get in? What if it's full? How long have people been waiting? We stood on our feet for HOURS for the wedding. Was it even worth my going?

Well, I went anyway. It was a long tube ride followed by not having any idea where I was going. I arrived about 2 hours early and one section was already full. But not all of them were and I got in the 2nd row! Oh, and I made some new friends too! At first I stood there with my kindle reading some book. But then I thought to myself, we're all here because we loved the book, or is it because we love Robert Pattinson? Hm. Well, regardless we all have the same opinion on something, so maybe I should put the kindle down and start talking with the other women around me. And it paid off!

Here we are waiting for the red carpet appearances to start:

And my trip was completely worth it. I'll let my photo speak for themselves! Enjoy!

The dashing Robert Pattinson

The beautiful Reese Witherspoon

The brilliant Christoph Waltz

As you can see, I'm glad I listened to myself, got off my sofa and went. It was fantastic and I made some new London friends! I don't think I can top the last 5 days! But I have many weeks to at least try!