Rugby and Steel Drums in London

The staple picture of Big Ben

After a short train ride from Edinburgh, I’ve found myself back in one of the most international cities in all of Europe: London, England.  Though the city is enormous and spread out over a massive area of land (divided by the River Thames), it is surprisingly easy to explore it’s many sites using the bus systems or the famous Underground — known as “The Tube.”

And as an added bonus, I was able to crash with a few very kind and hospitable friends for the duration of my stay, so no more creaky hostel beds and water-saving showers (yay!).  Thanks again, Mark and Lauren!  This was particularly nice, too, in that every person I’ve interacted with on the trip so far has been a stranger I just met for the first time — so seeing a few familiar faces was more than a welcomed sight.

I won’t bore you with details about the city or its history, as England is usually one of the most familiar countries to Americans, but I will still provide you with a series of pictures of the major sites for your enjoyment, which will commence now:

Houses of Parliament

The Eros Statue in the center of Picadilly Circus

The Tower Bridge over the River Thames

Trafalgar Square with Big Ben in the distance

Westminster Abbey (or more importantly, where Prince William and Kate were married)

The Tower of London

The Eye of London through the trees (basically a huge Ferris wheel)

If you happen to visit London when it’s raining, as I did, two great alternative options are the British Museum and the National Gallery — both of which offer the very budget-friendly admission price of nothing.  The former museum houses a vast collection of culturally significant pieces from across the world (though there has been some controversy over their unwillingness to repatriate several of these), whereas the later is a magnificant art museum displaying works from the 14th through the 20th century from such artists as Monet, Seurat, Da Vinci, Van Eyck, and Botticelli.

Entrance to the British Museum

The ceiling of the Great Court room

The Rosetta Stone

Reliefs from the Parthenon

Three statues of Buddha

The National Gallery as seen from Trafalgar Square (unfortunately they don’t allow pictures inside, so this is the most I can give)

Besides seeing the sites and doing all of the touristy things (riding a double decker bus, getting your pricture taken with a British guard, going into a red phone booth, etc.), I was lucky enough to be visiting during the finals of the Rugby Carnegie Challenge Cup held at Wembley Stadium.  Admittedly, we had to read up on the rules of rugby before going and still didn’t quite follow all of the action, but we had a blast anyway.

The entrance to Wembley Stadium

The interior of Wembley

The Wiegen Warriors in red were able to take down the Leeds Rhinos to take home the cup

See, we really did go! (and that is Mark and Lauren with me, by the way – they are the hospitable friends I spoke about earlier)

And fresh off of the Fringe Festivals in Edinburgh, I arrived just in time for Europe’s largest street fair: the 2-day dance festival that is Carnival in the posh Knotting Hill neighborhood.  Eventhough the official Carnival originated in Trinidad and Tobago and is generally celebrated throughout parts of the Carribbean and Brazil, the English folk still like to dance to the rhythm of samba and steel drums (though they wait for August, as the weather in London in February can be a bit tough).  The festival included a series of music and DJ stations, dozens of floats circulating through the crowd blasting music, and hundreds of food vendors serving up the likes of Jerk Chicken and Goat Curry.

Costumes ‘a plenty

The festival draws in millions of party-goers and revelers, and takes over the streets of the entire neighborhood

Another view of the crowd

It wouldn’t be Carnival without a steel drum band

Dancers following the parade procession

I was hoping for some Shark ‘n Bake, but the Jerk Chicken turned out to be a pretty tasty back-up option

England is also a great city from a culinary perspective (markets seem to be on every corner), so I’ve got another post due out in the next day or two concerning that which can be consumed or imbibed.  And further, I’m catching a plane to Copenhagen, Denmark tomorrow for a few days, after which I’m planning on heading Southwest to Amsterdam, Netherlands followed up with a beer tour through Belgium, and then into France and Spain.  Until then, cheers!

About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

8 Responses to “Rugby and Steel Drums in London”

  1. I did try the haggis but only to say that I did. UGH. Copenhagen is a beautiful city. We spent hours down on the waterfront just sitting at an outside cafe and watching the world go by. When you get to Amsterdam, be sure and take a walk thru the “Red Light District”. You won’t believe what you see there.

  2. How does Wembley Stadium compare to the horseshoe? Looks like it seats more and is a larger structure…

    • It wasn’t quite as big as Buckeye Stadium, but it was pretty close. The fact that there was a retractable roof and the design of the overall structure, however, made it a pretty cool stadium to see a game in.

  3. Andrew,
    I love the fact that I can take a nice shower, sit on the couch, pop a cheap domestic beer and live vicariously through your blog! It sounds like you are really doing it right. Have a great time on the next leg of your adventure.

    • Glad you’re enjoying the blog. I’ll have to say, however, that the fact that you can take a nice shower is the thing that makes me most jealous. A guy of my size trying to fit into a tiny European shower that has the push-button, water-saving facet has to be a pretty funny sight.

  4. Did you get to experience the roar of a sold out game or close to? So cool. Were their stadium beers equivalent to our $7 a head here in the states?

    • The stadium had 90,000 seats, and I remember them saying that the attendance that day was around 82,000 — so it wasn’t quite a sell-out. The roar of the crowd was still pretty potent though — as the average fan was a bit more annimated then we may see in the states — but it didn’t top the noise level when the Buckeye fans get riled up in the ‘Shoe. Go Bucks!

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