Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jolly good time

I love London. Seriously. I love it. In fact, I could live there. Truth be told, I asked Jesus if I could move there some day in the future. It's just so.....I don't know how to describe it. I just freaking love it!

I met a group of students on a Friday in November for a quick getaway. I was looking forward to this trip for two reasons: 1) I had all documentation from Italy, and 2) I had reservations for the Wimbledon tour. WIMBLEDON!! AHHHHH!!!!!

I fully admit that I was a bit nervous as I approached the passport control agent given my previous experience. Though I knew that I had everything in order and there should be no problems, I think I had a PTSD flashback of a very cross and rude agent making me feel like some sort of illegal immigrant out to take the British crown for all it's worth. Still, I approached the desk with confidence and boldness. I was greeted warmly by a woman who proceeded to ask me what brought me to London. I told her that I was on vacation for the weekend from Rome. She asked me what I was doing in Rome and I told her that I was there for work. "Do you have your permesso di soggiorno?" she asked. "Yes, I do!" I told her excitedly. Not only was this the first time anyone had asked me for it, but it was also the first time on UK soil that I felt confident to be there. I handed it over to her with a modicum of pride. She gave it back and wished me good travels. That's it?! Ok. Thanks!

I met up with my students as they were finishing their tour of the Tower of London. From there we made our way across the Thames to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Now I know it's not THE Globe Theatre, but it was still a really neat tour and experience. To think that Shakespeare was nearby the site while he was alive was pretty overwhelming.
From there we tried to catch a river cruise, but were unsuccessful so settled instead for walking around Big Ben, Parliment (hey! Isn't that a line from a movie? :) ), and Westminster Abbey. We just stood in awe of the sights and marveled. We also talked about the many movies that we'd seen that used these sights as a backdrop: Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, National Lampoons...

We walked around the city for a bit longer, grabbed some yummy fish and chips for dinner and returned to our respective hotels for the evening. After leaving Rome super early, I was ready for bed. Besides, I had to be ready for my big outing tomorrow: Wimbledon.

I am a tennis fan. I have been playing since I can remember. I love the game. When I was studying in Australia, I went to Melbourne for Easter weekend. I took some time and went to Melbourne Park, where the Australian Open is played every January. I went so far as to rent a court for a half an hour and hit with a friend who'd accompanied me. So, if I was going to be in London---I had to get to Wimbledon. Imagine how excited I was to learn that not only could I visit the museum, but have a guided tour as well! Oh. My. By the time I reached the grounds, I was practically hyperventilating I was so excited.

I spent some time looking around the museum that's located below the souvenir shop. There was an amazing collection of tennis history within it's walls and it was surprisingly hi-tech. Afterwards, I joined  the 30 or so people for our 90 minute tour. It. Was. Incredible. No jokes, one of the best things I've done in Europe. The tour guide not only was very knowledgable of tennis and Wimbledon history, but she was also entertaining. She took us all over the grounds--from the entrance gates to courts 2 and 3 to the court where Isner and Mahut played for 11 hours and 5 minutes spread over 3 days to the press room to centre court. I can't say it enough: WOOOOOWWWWW!!! I loved every moment of it. But I think my favorite was sitting in the press room where players discuss their matches after play. Nobody's allowed in there unless you're a player or member of the press...or you go on the Wimbledon tour. I felt like a kid in Disneyland.  So much to see and process. I really think that I'm going to try to go to Wimbledon in June because how can I not when I am so close?!

Left: Before I entered the hallowed gates of Wimbledon. Center: Press room. Right: Centre court.

Ok. So I've now made it to two of the four major tennis tournament locations. Next: Roland Garros in Paris--guess I'll have to go back--and New York for the US Open. It will be done.

Rounded the day out with a cup of coffee at Starbucks and then dinner with students. We meandered over to Buckingham Palace where it seemed a British man wanted to recreate the Trevi Fountain scene in La Dolce Vita and was wading through the fountain in front of the palace. Why? Who knows.

It was a quick trip, but wonderful nonetheless. I want to move there. I do. I think I would fit in. I mean, let's be real. I love British cinema, books, TV, clothes, and of course, accents.  Now if I could only find my British husband....

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