Published: August 4th 2012July 30th 2012
This time it was 5 PM instead of 5 AM, but yet again I found myself hastily packing my bags this past weekend. We met in the lobby before heading our separate ways. Elena, Maddie, and I made our way to Gatwick Airport, which was quite the adventure in itself. It was a 30 minute bus ride to the train station, and then a solid 45 minute train ride to the airport. Not to worry, by this point in our trip we are now experienced public transportation professionals. After somewhat rushing to get to the airport on time, we found that our flight had been delayed an hour. Gatwick is a lot smaller than Heathrow, but we managed to entertain ourselves for three hours by going to a Mexican place for American cheeseburgers.
I'm going to pause really quick to tell you about the secuirty in the UK. There is none. I boarded the airplane without showing my ID to anyone. I picked up my boarding pass without showing my ID. I walked through security without showing my ID. I walked on to the airplane without showing my ID. And, I was halfway through taking off my shoes in the
security line before I realized that you don't have to do that either.
Once we finally got on the plane, it was less than an hour until we were landing in Glasgow. Elena and I bid the group good night and headed off to the Holiday Inn that was adjacent to the airport. Everyone in the hotel was really nice and they upgraded us for free. We also checked in just in time to drop our luggage off and then go down to the hotel bar to see the United States walk in the opening ceremony.
Elena and I decided to treat Scotland as a summer vacation rather than as a lets-see-everything-we-can-in-24-hours trip. We slept in and watched the first bit of the Olympics, before heading out to see Glasgow. We found huge Olympic rings and a fun touristy area filled with a lot of shops. We tried on kilts and went to a lighthouse where we had a view of all of Glasgow. We also met up with a local Scottish band which had four drummers and a bagpipe player, before stopping for lunch in a local pub. While the food was disgusting, the beer and company
Slightly different than American signs
made it worthwhile.
Finally, it was time to go to the Olympics. Whereas the airport had zero security, you would have thought that you were meeting the president with the amount of security at the Olympics. In addition to normal secuirty, you were also patted down and you had to dump all of your belongings into a clear garbage bag. By the time we finally got past security, we were hungry and in search of a nice cold beer. Turns out that the only event you can have alcohol at in the UK is rugby, which we were unfortunately not seeing. Also, the only thing they sell in stadiums in Scotland is drinkable gravy and shepard's pies. We decided to starve for the rest of the day instead.
The game was insane. Before the London trip, I had never watched a soccer game from start to finish, as I've never understood why you would play a game without your hands (you were given hands, why shouldn't you be allowed to use them?) But between all of the Euro Cup games that we watched back in June, I developed a liking for the atmosphere of the audience, if not
a liking for the actual game itself. Watching the women's Olympic team beat Colombia 3-0 was amazing. Most of the stadium was filled with Americans, and it felt so weird seeing so many Americans in one place after being in London for two months.
The best part of the whole trip was our "warpaint". I had Elena paint an American flag on my face, and after seeing it Will and Elena followed suit. Camera crews came up and asked to take pictures of us, which was great. The strange part was that random people started taking pictures of us, and then a lot of people came up and asked to take a picture with the six of us! We felt like mini celebrities with people coming up. At one point in the game, I looked over my shoulder and some random guy was just snapping photos of us without any of us knowing. That part was a little creepy.
We stayed for the entire USA VS Colombia game, but left halfway through the France VS Korea game as hunger was taking over as our main foucs. Walking through the streets of Glasgow, random people in their cars would
honk or yell out "USA!" from their windows. People that past by us on the street stopped to take pictures or point at us as we all still had our face paint on and were all wearing American flag capes. By the end, we got so annoyed with people yelling "America!" that we just started yelling back random countries like Canada and Australia, to which we got even weirder looks. The pub we picked out for dinner almost didn't let us in, but we promised to sit outside and try not to attract too much attention to ourselves if they would let us eat.
Flying home to London was great. I loved Scotland and cannot wait to go back sometime soon to explore the country side and see the Lochness Monster. However, in both visiting Paris and Scotland, while only gone for 48 hours, I really started missing London. Leaving in a week is going to be really rough for all of us I think. We have become so close to each other, but also really close with the city. I get stopped almost everyday by a tourist asking for directions, and 99% of the time I can help
them out, which shocks them as I answer back in my American accent. We've been here long enough to start to get annoyed with all of the Olympic tourists who have no idea how to use the transportation systems. I flew back to the London City Airport, which was just a short DLR and tube ride away, but it was so hard to maneuver because there were tourists just standing on the platforms with confused faces and huge maps. But then I remembered that that was me two months ago, and I sighed. Home sweet home.