If there is one thing people around me know for sure about me is that: I’m a freaking football addict! The first football game I watched was during 98 World cup when I was 11 years old. Since that day, I always pray for a draw at every game so they can play extra time (even when I know that it’s not going to be the case), and my closest friends know that a large number of my Tuesdays, Wednesdays and some of my Sundays during the football season are not even an option for a happy hour plan. But you probably know that my passion for football is not the main subject of this first post and trust me when I say that talking about it would definitely take a whole blog! (did I just find the idea of my next project or what? 😎 )
Anyway, last December I came up with the great idea to pack and fly to the city with the biggest number of football teams in Europe: London. I’ve always been fascinated by this city without really knowing why; it’s may be the history, the accent, the music legacy (Freddie Mercury Hello!), the melting pot, Football, David Beckam or may be all these things at once!
First of all, for those who are not familiar with football clubs and leagues (and who definitely should give it a try!), here’s the thing: London is the home of 13 professional football teams and more than 80 amateur leagues, all regulated by the London Football association and each club in London is named after the district in which they play. Well, if you still can’t see how big it is, it’s actually almost what we have in the whole Moroccan professional league (Sorry guys can’t do better than this!). The 6 biggest and most famous London teams are: Chelsea, Arsenal, Fullham, Tottenham Hotspurs, West Ham and Queens Park Rangers (QPR). So football is a pretty huge deal for the Londoners, and the decision to visit the city to attend a game was a quite obvious plan for me.
I chose to schedule my travel during a specific period to attend a specific game I was day dreaming about for a while, and which also happens to be one of the biggest London Derbies (AKA: Arsenal vs Chelsea), so It’s not like I made a last minute decision as we, Moroccan green passport holders, need a visa to get into the UK, bummer!
While flying over London for the first time few minutes before landing, the first thought that popped up in my mind was “oh boy that’s a huge number of football stadiums they got in here! (In Arabic of course, I still didn’t start thinking in English…yet!)”. I mean it was dark (we arrived around 10pm) and all you could see, apart from lights in the streets, was green rectangles everywhere, you could see them too because they were lighted up (requirements of the games’ eve). At that moment, I knew that I was going to LOVE the city.
When I solo travel, which is usually the case, I always choose hostels for accommodation, it’s the best way to meet people from different countries, ages and backgrounds, and of course it’s always cheaper than hotels. So my choice for London was “equity point”, a nice hostel in central London next to Paddington station (which was the ideal location for me as I needed to get to the stadiums located around the city by tube). By the way a review of this hostel is coming up soon in the “Reviews” section 😉
There is also something I’m pretty sure I’m always going to go through when I travel, even if we are in 2014 and some clichés are supposed to be overcome by now. Here goes:
When you are a girl wearing Hijab, solo travelling just because you want to, it always makes you the subject of loads of interviews and questions from people you meet, like that old Colombian couple I met during a tour in Slovenia, Oh! Didn’t I tell you that I’ve been to Slovenia too and it’s a piece of heaven on earth? Well we’ll have plenty of time to talk about it don’t worry 🙂 So going back to our couple, they had this “idea” that all women in all Arab countries were not allowed to go out of their homes, “so how did you manage to come to Ljubljana? Did you escape from your parents?” they said (true story!!). Actually, I don’t blame them, because the media and what’s going on everyday around us kind of build up those ideas too. But London was different, I didn’t have to answer any of those questions, and nobody cared about what I was wearing, I guess that’s because London is such a multicultural city, with so many different ethnic groups and nationalities that the British ended up with a level of tolerance so high that you start suspecting that something must be wrong, while that’s the way things should be! Which brings me back to the main point behind this whole “travelling the world” plan of mine, It’s not only about the food (Sorry to say that guys, all the pizzas you ate in your whole life don’t count if you never tasted a Napolitan Pizza in Italy, anyway we’ll get there!), or about the gorgeous landscapes but it’s also about the different people you meet in each country that help you, in either a good or a bad way, broaden your mind!
Well, that was just me being all wise and stuff… To know my top favourite moments in London, stay tuned for part 2 then 🙂
Cheers to the places we yet have to go to!