London - A City of Two Tales

Trip Start May 30, 2012
Trip End Nov 07, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, September 28, 2012

Ryan's Tale

On the fifth day of our London stay, we traveled across the city to meet our new hosts in Higham's Park, Jill and Andy. Jill is a teacher from Nottingham and Andy is a journalist who writes about the regulation of different sports. Andy grew up in the Fulham area, going to Chelsea games at Stamford Bridge. Excellent! A Chelsea fan I can discuss football with! Andy and I dicussed the current hot topic in England, John Terry's (Chelsea's captain and former Team England's captain) alleged racial charges. It's all over the newspapers and radios in London. Andy works out of his home, so in the mornings before we left for the day, we got to have some talks. It was very interesting hearing a journalist's perspective and a Chelsea fan's too. Another cool thing about staying with Andy, was that he could really appreciate my excitement of going to my first football game in England!! I was looking forward to this part of our trip for a long time and I'm glad we could make it work. Back in Fort William, Scotland, I was up and ready at 7:00 in the morning to purchase tickets online when they became available to the public, to the Sept. 22 Premier League game against Stoke City. After getting the run around from the customer service reps through email, the tickets sold out. Our chances to go to a Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge were looking bad, unless I wanted to spend tons of money. Then another game came on the schedule for Sept. 25. It was a less important League Cup game against Wolverhampton Wolves, but it was way cheaper and easier to get and I could see Chelsea play at home! So this time I called from a pay phone in Conwy, Wales and got the tickets for myself and Jess. We had great seats, and I got to see some of Chelsea's stars: Torres, Mata, Cahill, and amazingly the captain John Terry. The stadium erupted with applause when they announced his name. Personally, I think he's a dirty player, but I kept that to myself. The atmosphere was amazing. I think they need to hand out song books though, so that we could join in on some of the chants. The Wolves fans had their own tiny section in the stadium, and we saw some fans being escorted in by four police officers for their own protection. Yikes! No problems though. Chelsea won 6-0! No shortage of goals for Chelsea this night. In Wolves' defence, sometimes away teams don't field their top players in League Cup games because they don't think they are as important.

On another morning Jess and I had planned a day to see our own stuff and meet back at the house in the evening to make supper. Since we were out a bit later on the first two nights of our stay with Andy and Jill, we didn't get a chance to meet their three year old daughter Chardy until this night. Jill told us Chardy likes spaghetti, garlic bread, and fish fingers...Mmm me too, so that's what we made for dinner. When I came into the house, Chardy was sitting at the table by herself chowing down some spaghetti. "Hi Chardy, my name's Ryan, nice to finally meet you," I said to her as she stopped her eating for a second to give me a big sauced covered smile. "Hi" she replied back. Then she dropped her food and ran into the kitchen yelling "Mommy, Mommy, I talked to a boy!" Chardy, Jill, Jess and I enjoyed a lovely spaghetti and garlic bread dinner. Andy was at choir practise for a bit and joined us later. Chardy was the star of the conversation as she chatted away. She reminds me of a very well articulated Nora. So cute. Chardy loves taking baths, and is in a phase where she always asks people, stranger or not, if they want to take a bath with her. Jill looks forward to the day when Chardy will grow out of this. Chardy went off to bed and the three of us kept on talking well after. Andy came home and we enjoyed some original Guinness. During our split-off-alone day, Jess went back to Camden Market and I went on a football stadium hunt. Jess will share all about her market experience in her tale. But I must say, Camden was probably one of my favourite places in London! I didn't go back though, because I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go see some Premier League stadiums, and a couple of museums. I saw a total of five stadiums in London; White Heart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspurs; Emirates stadium, home of Arsenal; Loftus Road, home of Queens Park Rangers; Craven Cottage, home of Fulham F.C; and of course Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea F.C. My favourite had to be Craven Cottage. It was relatively smaller then the others, but way more enjoyable. I went to reception at the stadium and asked if there was a way I could see the pitch. Most stadiums only let you see the pitch if you book a really expensive tour, but not Fulham. Another lady walked through the door when I asked, and the reception lady just asked her to take me to see the pitch. The stands were empty and I had a view of the whole stands and pitch to myself. So awesome! I wish my Fulham loving friend Austin could have been there too.

One other cool thing about London is that all the museums are free, because the Queen said so. And there are some pretty amazing museums in London. Jess and I went to the Victoria and Albert Visual Arts Museum and the British Museum. I went to the Imperial War Museum and the Natural History by myself. It would take way too long to go into detail about all of them, so I am just going to talk about my favourite, the Natural History Museum!! So cool! I came in a side door, and in front of me was an escalator that went up into the Earth! It took me into the red zone of the museum explaining about eathquakes, volcanoes, and the geography of the World. They even had an earthquake simulator room where tv screens showed real footage of a monster earthquake in Kobe Japan. The room was set up to look like the convenience store that the film was taken in. They also had a model of a leaf in the green zone that was blown up many times it's size so you could see all it's parts, with a British narrator explaining everything. I felt like I was in my own personal Planet Earth film. And of course they had loads and loads of animals in the blue zone. Big, small, old, new, extinct, you name it, they had it. And many dinosaurs, with an animaltronic actual size T-Rex with blood on it's mouth. Also, the last Friday of every month, the museum is open late, and one of these Fridays a year, students from surrounding Colleges and Universities, set up tables everywhere with cool science stuff and show everyone. I went on that night without knowing it! This is about the third or fourth time we have been to a place when they had their once-a-year events. Sweet!

Jess's Tale

London is known as the British Broadway, with all the different theatre venues throughout the city putting on award winning plays and musicals almost every night out of the year. You cannot possibly go to London without having an opportunity to view a performance. If I can remember correctly, I have never been to a musical. So that was near the top of the list for our London visit. Once we found out what was showing, it came down to a toss up between The Lion King and Wicked. Wicked won out because Ryan had already seen The Lion King many years ago and I had heard Wicked was amazing. We went to the ticket office ahead of time to inquire about ticket prices and the seating chart. We were about to purchase the cheapest seats (15 each, and definitely not the best views) when I just thought to ask about student prices, because you never know. The lovely ticket lady informed us that on the morning of, top price seats (62.50) are sold to students for a major discount (27) but it is on a first come-first serve basis. Well, it was a fantastic deal and even though it was a bit more than we had wanted to spend, we were thrilled because we knew the seats were amazing! And amazing they were! We sat in the first balcony, three rows up, right in the centre. Perfect view, perfect acoustics, perfect show! Wicked is absolutely incredible! The story line is extremely clever with witty humour, and the music is wonderful. The actors were so talented and had some of the most spectacular voices I have ever heard. If you ever get a chance to see Wicked, I highly, highly recommend it!!!

The other part of my tale comes to you from a market shopper's paradise, the shopping haven area called Camden. Camden is full of spunk, funk, and punk. This is where the cool kids hang. Well, it's also where the artisans, stoners, goths, ravers, and everyone in between hangs too. A melting pot of life styles. Camden is home to some of the biggest flea, antique, clothing, and junk markets in London. You have Camden Lock, a market so closely packed together with little tents and food stalls that you can hardly breathe, but every tent has a different personality. Then, you have a slightly classier area across the street where local artisans try and sell their art, jewelry and "organic, free range, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, whatever else they can name" goods at exorbitant prices. Finally, there is the mother ship: The Stables Market. Exactly as it sounds, it is an enormous area where, back in the 1800's, they used to stable mass amounts of horses. Now, hundreds of shops are set up in the old horse stalls but it still has the fantastic look of old London. It in itself is a piece of art. I decided I needed at least a whole day there to explore the bargains and experience the atmosphere. I needed a plan of action. I decided to walk around first to see what was being sold and then decide what I actually wanted and who had the best deal. It was so much fun walking through different stalls and shops and seeing what was out there. I had to show major self control because we are working with extremely limited space inside our backpacks. This is a very sad thing, as there were so many neat things and great deals around every corner. I spent most of my time in The Stables, partly because it was the neatest place ever, and partly because it is a little too easy to find yourself completely lost and turned around in the winding halls and streets. But that is part of the charm! At the end of the day, I was successful in acquiring two shirts, two pieces of jewelry, and one of the best oatmeal cookies I have ever tasted! If I ever have another chance to come back to London, I know Camden will be there, with all of it's spunk and charm, waiting for me.
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Mutti & Father on

Well I would have had a very hard time deciding which adventure to go on, (soccer or great shopping). Dad & I will have to go on both adventures ourselves someday soon. We will have to get all the trip tips from both of you, because you have the most amazing adventures!
Happy Thanksgiving hope your day is filled with rest, adventure, thankfulness & turkey lol Miss you both alot, love always

mil on

all i can say is "wow"! both perspectives were amazing and carried me along with both of you on each adventure. happy thanksgiving. it's only plus 5 here! love lots

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