waiting in the queue
Weekend trip number one from Oxford
found many of us on the way to see one of the greatest sporting events in the world: the Wimbledon tennis championships! Me and a group of five other guys, most of whom were from my group but I didn't know that well, stuck together for the weekend. We had planned on camping out Thursday night to get good tickets, but the continual rain halted that idea. We ended up taking a bus from Oxford to London
at 4:30 am and arrived at "The Queue" around 6:30. We got there early enough to get in with grounds passes (18 pounds) no problem, although we did miss out on being able to buy tickets for Court 1 and Centre Court (50-55 pounds).
After a quick (and expensive) lunch in the then sunny grounds, we were off to see our first match.
We first checked out court 18, where two attractive women were playing. One was Romanian and the other some other type of European, but it was a good match. The seating area was small, so we were very close to the action. Then the rains hit. It was nothing terrible, but did suspend play for about an hour. The whole day wore on much the same; a few hours of sun, followed by sporadic rain and delayed play. The good thing about this is that the big matches were held up until later in the day. This is good because as people with tickets to the big courts leave, they are turned back in and resold at the "Ticket Resale Queue" for 5 pounds a piece. My friends and I joined the queue about midday, and after only about an hour and a half wait, a single ticket for Court 1 made its way down the line (most people want tickets together, so pass up on it).
I gladly bought it and entered the stadium.
Court 1 was awesome! I got to see the two best American players in the tournament. James Blake lost his match, but Andy Roddick won his. It was really funny hearing a bunch of British people screaming "Come on Andy" in a very British accent every play. His serve is something else. And the cool part was, a few of my friends got tickets together very near me, so I ended up finding them and sitting next to them for that match. Wimbledon was great, and afterwards, we got on the metro to start our tour of London.
The first order of business was to find our hostel and get settled in. It was called "The Generator" and was advertised as a party hostel. Needless to say, it was quite interesting.
The place is decorated in mostly blue and red, and has a party, jail-like appearance. Although it reeked of smoke, the accomodations weren't bad. It was a huge hostel, and there is key-card entrance to each room, which include beds, lockers, and a sink. They gave us towels for a shower, which were down the hall, but since we only stayed one night I decided not to partake in that experience. Having only a couple of hours sleep the night before, I slept like a rock. The six of us woke up the next morning, and said goodbye to The Generator as we made our way to the heart of the city.
With no planned itineraries (finally), we were able to just go see the sights we wanted and chill out. The day was full of rain, and my umbrella and rain jacket inherited from Adam came in extremely handy.
the Tower Bridge...and plastic swords
Using the subway to get around the big city, we were able to see such things as Buckinham palace (although they did not do the changing of the guard that day), Westminster Abbey, the Wellington Arch, the Tower of London, and the Tower Bridge. We also bought plastic swords at the Tower gift shop and had fun with that. In the middle of the afternoon, after much walking through the water, we were dying for some good food. What better place than the most famous American cafe of them all?
Lunch at the original Hard Rock Cafe of London was great. Although expensive, the food hit the spot and it was cool to see where it all started. Afterward, we went to the London Eye, which is the biggest ferris wheel in the world, but chose not to ride after realizing that the price per ride was 15 pounds! Since lunch was so late, we counted it as dinner and just had coffee and tea instead, true to British form.
It then being nighttime, we decided to do a little pub crawl of our own and check out all of the famous pubs across the Soho district (as mentioned in Michael's guidebook to London). It was really fun, and we went to about 4 pubs and bars that night, having a beer at each. A lot of them had funny names, such as "The Lamb and Flag," named in the old days to have easy symbols to remember for illiterate drunks. After a night on the town, we caught the 1:30am bus back to Oxford to sleep in our own beds. Apparently, unbeknownst to us, there was a little bit of attempted terrorism going on in the city while we were there, but luckily nothing happened. It was a wonderful trip altogether, and I definitely wouldn't be opposed to going to London sometime again!