I leave the house with a dry mouth and expressionless face, run down 4 flights of stairs, exit the apartment complex, and make a hard left, narrowly missing contact with a rambling woman. My mind races with thoughts to apologize while my legs continue moving forward. I think,” Well, I can’t turn back now- no time.” I frantically travel 2 more streets before abruptly stopping at a stoplight. “Ugh, why now?” is an incessant, unwelcoming thought occupying my mind until I could dart across the road into my destination. The finish line is in sight, although I have so much more to do with such little time.
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It’s been about a year since my trip to London with my dad, although it feels like just yesterday. The soccer games, ambling along the historic streets of Kensington, sampling an eclectic mixture of food; it was all euphoric, really. Long story short, we’re going back. We’re planning to revisit some of our favorite destinations: The Emirates Stadium, Loftus Road, Craven Cottage, and Selhurst Park, while we show my brother and mom around the enchanting city that is Londres. We’re leaving December 28th so be sure to make your way back if you’d like to read about unique experiences written by yours truly.
It’s almost unbelievable to think I was studying abroad 2 and a half years ago! I spent my time in Valencia, Spain, but I will get into that later; this week I will describe a weekend trip to London. The visit was during early February, and as you can imagine, it was cold. The city was imposing, with noticeably wide streets, bright lights, and its effervescent personality. In short, it was an ideal place to spend a weekend, especially when you consider my friend Matt bought tickets for us to see Crystal Palace Football Club play West Bromwich Albion. We supported different clubs although we could hardly ignore a burgeoning Palace team that had risen from the 2nd division and now played in Premier League. What’s more, they played in a largely unknown part of South London with devout followers who welcomed foreigners. Cheap drinks and an atmosphere are rarely avoidable, so we ventured down to Croydon (South London) around noon on Saturday. We arrived at the stadium 2 hours early and were taken under the arms of Palace fans. They asked us to name a few players in the first team and were pleasantly surprised by our football knowledge. There was a brief pause in our conversation whilst the Palace fans exchanged a glance, and suddenly we were off to the pub.
The pub was down the street from the stadium. Matt and I were at a loss for words when we opened the pub door. There was so much going on- multi-generational fans belting Palace songs in one corner, drinking games in another, stories going in the other, although everyone was aware who was coming in and leaving the bar. After fighting our way to the bar for a drink, Matt and I migrated near the chanters and started singing along. It was in that moment where we found a type of solace reserved for only a handful of activities. Solace soon transformed to ecstasy thanks to a couple of pints before we left for the game.
The game was as gritty as predicted and Palace won 3-1. Palace’s coach Tony Pulis remained with his pragmatic approach that placed an emphasis on defense over elegant attacking football. I wish I could say more about the game. However, there was nothing of note except for the Holmesdale Road End. This section of the stadium contained fanatics who bled red and blue (Palace’s colors). They were proudly singing all game, spurring their team on. There’s nothing like it in American sports. Matt and I were enraptured by the joyous Palace fans who were in the stand adjacent to us. The whistle blew and exiting Palace fans were accompanied by good times. The good times were accompanied by good pints. Some in South London would say they go hand-in-hand, so Matt and I did as the Palace fans did. Pints were overflowing and served as sufficient fuel to begin our night.
Want to hear the end? Let me know and I’ll send a personal email to ya.