Today began like any other day, except for the fact that we all woke up considerably later than we had planned on due to our massive navigational blunder the night before. We were reminded of our shame the instant we realized how late we had actually slept in.
We made our way up to the mess hall area and grabbed something little to snack on before getting ready to head to the Rugby game that we had bought tickets for back in the states as an added little bonus for Zach. As we ate, we began working on what we had called our "timeline" -simply recording down highlights from each day in a small netbook so that we'd have some sort of skeleton to work with when the time came to write all of this out fully. We were already a few days behind at this point, so we were deep in contemplation, trying desperately to recall the events from the previous days. Trav however, has the memory of a steel trap and was recalling such subtle details and nuances, it was incredible.
After about a half-hour of this, Sam walks in from being in the computer area and informs us that the stadium where our game was scheduled to start in about thirty minutes was at least ninety minutes away by public transit. We of course respond as the civil, level-headed young men we are, and begin running around like madmen. We figured that a rugby game in at Twickenham Stadium may not be the best place for four chaps in suits, so, for this day only, we decided to forgo the uniform ensemble and don some more regular looking threads. Trav of course had to borrow some, because we quite literally didn't have any other clothes whatsoever. Not even normal walking shoes of any kind. He's that hardcore.
So in a wave of frenzy, we ran out the door and towards our beloved Jubilee line. When we arrived, however, we were informed that it was some sort of bank holiday of sorts, and that many of the transit lines weren't going to be running at all that day, making the directions that we had acquired relatively useless. We boarded anyway and took the line as far as we could until we had to exit, and then the fun really began. More or less we whimpered like lost puppies in the hopes that someone with any sort of navigational ability would come to our aid and help us get to where we needed to go. Eventually that person emerged, and we were so thankful for his help. Our route was going to take more time than we had hoped for, but we didn't have much of an option at this point.
After a series of rail switches and creative maneuvering, we finally made it to the bus stop where we would catch a ride that would, at last, plop us right in front of the stadium. The problem was that no buses were running that route. We asked a number of would-be drivers sitting in there buses if they had any information that would help us out, but were snuffed each time. We sent scouts out to different street corners to see if, by some stroke of luck, a bus was heading in the direction that we needed to go. After fifteen minutes of this, it was clear that our transportational rabbit's foot was not working as well as we had hoped.
We grumbled a bit, paced back and forth a little, and then I finally suggested that we sprint it out. The others brothers were in agreement, and thus began our lively dash. Trav however, was not equipped with shoes, but eagerly and willingly took off his sandals, and kept pace with us all as he ran barefoot. What a trooper.
Another fifteen minutes had passed as we ran, and we were starting to wonder if we were even heading in the right direction, when all of a sudden we rounded a turn, and there lay ahead of us, the sumptuous Twickenham Stadium. The fourth largest stadium in all of Europe, the Towering Twickers boasts a seating capacity of 82,000 -the largest rugby union stadium in all of the UK. I think I caught Zach drooling, crying, or both at this point.
We ran like schoolboys towards a great Frasier Fir on Christmas morn only to find that we could not find out section. Guards and workers offered completely contradictory information and direction, and we frantically ran circles around this massive stade until we stumbled upon the ever elusive section thirty-four. You would think that the saga would end there, but when we finally reached our seats, we found that a group of gentlemen were occupying our seats, assuming that we weren't going to make it to the game at all. So after some awkward explaining and standing around while our friends calculated the incredibly difficult math, we were finally in our seats.
Unfortunately there wasn't all that much left to the game, but what we did see, was incredible. Such a blast to see that kind of caliber rugby being played live.
And the song that was played at the end was absolutely epic. In this video, you'll also get a glance of what we all deemed to be the hottest gentleman we met in London. Plus, he has Australian!
After the game, we made our way back to the city center to see some of the sites before the sun went down. We saw a number of beautiful buildings before we finally made it to Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London. Founded in 1066 as a part of the Norman Conquest, this massive structure stands majestically on the north bank of the River Thames. It has been used as a prison, armory, treasury, menagerie, home of the Royal Mint, public records office, and has even housed the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. An impressive arrangement, to say the least.
We then walked to the stunning Tower Bridge, which doubles both as a suspension bridge, and bascule. As the sun began to set, the powerful ground level lights lit up this beautiful bridge along the river. Opened in 1894, this gorgeous structure was built due to the increased commercial development in east London when the need for new river crossing capabilities arose. Requiring 11,000 tons of steel and 70,000 tons of concrete, this bridge is quite a sight to see in person.
We then headed again to Parliament Square to find a number of activists camping on the grounds in protest of the British military involvement in Afghanistan. Led by anarchist professor Chris Knight, these zealots had been camping out since May 1st, setting up a sprawl of tents they called "Democracy Village" and displaying signs communicating their own ideals, some of which had nothing to do with the war at all, like the one below.
We then walked to a center court area where I attempted to get some long exposure night motion shots of a unique flat waterfall in the center of this spot, but a gentleman came out and yelled at me to leave. I did get one shot of this cool little area before being forced to leave. If only I had been in my suit...
At this point it had gotten quite cold, and poor Sammy had wrapped himself in the scarves that we each had purchased at the rugby game because all he had to keep him warm was the t-shirt he wore at the beginning of the day. With each arm and leg wrapped separately with the colorful scarf, he was an adorable sight to see, but cold nonetheless. So we, with some level of confidence and accuracy, made our way to the the appropriate bus, and made our way back to our beloved Hillspring Lodge for the night.