We have been back from London for a couple of days now. It was a great experience. Well it was great except for the 2nd half of the football game, but I will talk about that later. 🙂
We got lucky again with flying Swiss. They asked for bids on upgrading to Business class. I put in an insane level low bid, but we got the upgrade anyway. I think some of it has to do with the amount of flying we have done this year. Multiple trips back to the US really make the miles and points add up quickly. The ability to sit in the Lufthansa/Swiss lounge for an hour or so and have all the free food and drink we want makes getting to the airport early an enjoyable experience. I have a story about why you don’t wait until the last minute at the end of my writing today.
This is probably going to sound strange, but it felt weird to get off the plane in a “foreign” country and be able to read all of the signs. We did have multiple reminders that the English Julie and I learned is different than ENGLISH ENGLISH. The first came as we were looking to take a “Train” to get to our hotel. We completely forgot that in the UK the Underground is Not a train. So as we were looking at signs in the airport, we went way out of our way, and actually passed the station we needed looking for the train to go where we wanted. We had a few laughs at ourselves once we finally got on the right “train.” Our next lesson on English happened the following morning. I wanted to go see the Globe Theatre. The last time we were in London we only had time to walk by the outside. I wanted to see the inside; so after breakfast we went for a stroll along the Thames where we came across this sign.
It turned out that busking is singing or playing an instrument in public. If the sign had read no Straßenmusik I would have been fine. A quick Twitter request, though, and we learned a new word in a matter of moments.
One of the most fabulous parts things about London are the Museums. We visited three of them during our weekend: The Tate, The British Museum, and The Natural History Museum. I was shocked to learn they are FREE. This was an amazing discovery for me. I was a little disappointed to find out that my main reason for going to The British Museum was out on tour, but it was still a fascinating place. I don’t think we will ever be able to take our kids to any of the museums, though. We would not be able to do anything else!
Our first trip to London we spent time going to all the traditional tourist destinations. This time, however, we were able to see Big Ben in all his glory! The last visit the clock tower was still under scaffolding; so we really didn’t see much.
Another lesson we had re-enforced is that there is a difference of living in a city of about 1 million vs a city of over 9 million. DINING OUT! The choices for dining were so much more extensive than anything we have near Zürich. The choices were almost staggering. We had an amazing seafood dinner at La Petite Poissonnerie, and we found an Asian Tapas bar in SOHO called Ping Pong. We were blown away when we found out that place was actually one link in a chain of restaurants. The atmosphere in Ping Pong was excellent. We were probably the oldest couple in the place! I think what was even more
astonishing was how inexpensive it was to go out for dinner. Of course we often feel that way whenever we leave Switzerland!
The reason we went back to London last weekend was to watch a football game. When we left Wisconsin, we knew that it would be a LOOOONG time before we ever got the chance to watch the Green Bay Packers play live again. Well, thanks to a heads up from our financial planner back in Milwaukee we learned that Green Bay would be playing in London. We managed to get some tickets without having to auction off our first born grand child, and jetted off to London. The game was played in Tottenham stadium. This is a place designed for football, just not the American kind. The stadium is really big. When we first got to the inside I thought it would seat about 100,000. I have been in some big stadiums and this appeared to be one of the biggest. The reality though is that it only holds about 60,000 people.
The crowd was certainly very Packer centric. It sounded like a home game at Lambeau Field. Easily the crowd was 3:1 wearing Green and Gold. We were surprised to see the number of cheeseheads in the crowd. Some friends brought some over for us, and we thought we would be unique. NOPE!
We had a great time. The only issue was getting back to the hotel that night. London has an awesome public transportation system, but it seemed like the one weak spot was Tottenham. The underground station is about a 30 minute walk from the stadium. We were able to catch a bus to the stadium, but there were so many people trying to go to the same station that catching a bus on the way back would have been next to impossible. We had to walk, which in itself wasn’t bad, but Julie has been having some knee problems, and the walk exacerbated those so the next day she could barely walk. What was even more frustrating was someone tried to segregate the walking traffic going to the underground from the walking traffic going past the station. In theory this would work. The problem was that one block from the station there was a break in the fence; so the hundreds of people that had been there before knew to bypass the gates, and just keep walking until the last block. That of course set off many people when they had been standing in the queue for 30 minutes, and then they watch someone just walk right past them and get in line. Julie made the comment that if she doesn’t get Covid after the underground ride she must be immune. Block Party in Zürich was the most dense crowd I had ever seen; until the underground going back to our hotel. I didn’t know that you could pack people that tightly together. No one had to worry about holding on or falling, because you could not move more than 1/4 of an inch until the doors opened at the stadium. Of course the trip back probably would have been a lot more enjoyable IF the Packers would have won!
I promised a little story at the beginning and now it is time. This is certainly not any kind of life altering story, but I found it a perfect example of why US Americans are not always viewed kindly around the world.
One of the advantages of flying Business Class is that at some airports you are given preferential treatment for going through security. This is the case at Heathrow. The security line was at least 300 meters long, and it looked like it would take hours to get through. The “Fast Pass” line was only about 25 meters long when we queued; so already a significant difference. In front of us was a family, dad, mom, grandma, boy, and nanny. The mom was making a scene about getting to the Fast Pass line, and bypassing everything else. She gets out her phone and calls her daughter. It turned out they abandoned grandpa because he had trouble walking; so they could get to the line and “hold” spots for them. Mom is telling daughter to hurry up, and just to cut through everyone in the line telling them “My family is just up ahead.”
This alone was causing everyone around the Mom to get irritated. Queueing is an art everywhere and apparently everyone but this Mom knows cutting the line is one sure way to get everyone upset.
So we get up to the last gate before we go through security. It turned out that Mom had tickets for everyone but Grandma. Mom tried bullying the guard to let grandma through, but he held fast. I honestly cannot imagine even trying that one. So the family leaves grandma standing by the gate, and continues through security. Mom promised she would text grandma the ticket when they got to the gate. As the family is getting ready to put their bags on the belt to be scanned, the daughter and grandpa show up. Mom starts yelling at the girl to cut the line, but the security guard stops her, and comes over and tells mom that she must “ask” everyone around her if it is OK that the daughter cut the line. I really wanted to be an AH and say of course she CANNOT, but Julie convinced me to be nicer. Julie and I both got a chuckle from the security guards talking about the family that abandoned grandma at ticket check. They were simply aghast that someone would leave their family member standing there with no way to move forward.
They finally get through the bag check, well almost. When I got through the metal detector, mom was running around yelling about her “bag” and her “coat”. It turns out she had something in the coat or purse that could not be identified; so her bin got pulled out of X-ray for a hand search. Once she realized what happened to her coat, she starts yelling to her family to “RUN” it turns out that boarding for the flight started in 10 minutes. 🙂 You have to remember that grandpa can barely walk. Run is not something he is physically able to do. It is stuff like this that causes people to think poorly of US Americans. Travel is stressful, and many times people see us at our worst and think that is normal.
So yeah, getting to the airport three hours before my flight leaves seems like overkill, but I will take that cold screwdriver at the bar anytime over leaving some of my travel party behind as I race to get to the gate!
If you liked what you read, please subscribe above. I hope you enjoy my pictures from London below.