Third Email- London, "The Game", and the week before

Sent 19.10.05


This is a rather long email, so I apologize in advance, although I'm sure most of you don't mind. It was written in two parts with the second half being written first, as it is the older stuff. Here it goes.

London was awesome. I travelled there this past weekend, leaving on a Friday night, getting into the airport a little before midnight and finally getting to my former roommate Tedd's place around 1:30 am. I stayed with him for the weekend, he is currently studying abroad in London for the semester. I also got to see many other people from ND that I know throughout the weekend, and I have pictures of some of them up on my website.

After talking with Tedd for like an hour, we decided it was time for bed and woke up the next day for a whirlwind tour of London. Without going into too much detail, we saw Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Monument, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. A long list of places, but I have some pictures of each on the website, and it was cool to see all these sights in person that you see either on TV or in newspapers and magazines. The city is huge as well, especially compared to Dublin. We got Tube passes for the day so we could take the subway wherever we wanted to, and that was worth it as we still ended up walking a lot anyway. This is as good of time as any to thank Tedd for being a great tour guide. Maybe that is your future calling.

Saturday night-the big game. I don't want to bring up spoiled milk, but ND was so close to pulling out a victory. Cassie, one of my ND friends, made Tedd and I some great eggs for dinner before we headed back to city centre to watch the game at the Sports Cafe. The Sports Cafe is the place to watch ND games in London for whatever reason--likely because it is the only place to get them. I've heard numerous reasons as to why this place seems to be able to get an NBC feed when no one else does, but as long as I could see this game, I didn't care.

The place was full of the ND London Programme kids, along with several other college kids, and even some older 'adults'. The atmosphere was pretty awesome as it was about as one sided as you can get. If you want to know how the game turned out, that really isn't my job, ESPN has probably written some articles on that. We were quite into the game though, and the end was a bit of a downer as we saw the clock tick to zero the first time, and no one really knew if it had really ended. Anyway, a 3 point loss is a bit better than 31. I think our football team showed it isn't just lucky though, we put up the best fight yet against USC.

Sunday was spent getting some needed sleep, and then a nice afternoon in Hyde Park. Tedd, Cassie and I brought a bunch of food for sandwiches, some chips, and of course desserts. We sat there for a while eating, then just lounging around watching the activity in the Park. This is not your small little neighbourhood park- the place is huge with room for a ton of people to play sports or just sit around like we did for a while. Eventually we got up and threw an (American) football around for a while, and a guy from France even joined in our game of catch, who picked up on the idea pretty quickly but tried to introduce some fancy soccer moves to the catching, which didn't work so well.

I had a 8:30 am flight out of London the next morning back to Dublin, and I was hoping to be back in time for a 11 am class. The logic behind these weird flight times makes more since when you look at the price. When you fly on Ryanair, some flights are ridiculously cheap. Other flights in more peak times cost more. If I would have taken a prime flight to London on Friday (say 6:30 pm), the flight would have cost €40 one way, and I could have spent another €40 on a Sunday night return flight. This seems like relatively good pricing, but I paid a whole €0.99 each for my two flights. After the taxes and fees, this works out to about €46 or about $55. Not bad for a weekend in London. Of course, the bus to and from the airport in London that Ryanair flies into (over an hour from London) is £15, or about $26, so that adds a bit to the price.

Back to my original line of thought-for an 8:30 am flight out of London Stansted, you should get to the airport around 2 hours early if you want a good seat on a free-for-all Ryanair flight. Working backwards, this would mean arriving at the airport at 6:30 am, getting on the bus around 4:45 am, leaving Tedd's room around 4:30 am, and waking up at 4 am or so. So not a very good night of sleep, but I survived.

I spent the previous weekend spent taking a trip, although not as much planning went into it as my London trip. We took a trip south to Kilkenny and spent the day there looking at the castle, cathedral, and just wandering around the city. I decided the night before we went that I would go. The group was seven of us from the dorm I live in, so it was cool to travel with people not from the US, but from all different countries. We took the bus there; it was about 2 hours each way, and a great deal at €10.50 for the round trip. I put pictures of the trip up on my website for those of you who want to see them.

Also last week was the final World Cup qualifier game for Ireland, who was playing Switzerland. Basically the way it stood for Ireland was "win and we're in". Michael, a German friend from the dorm, and I decided to go into city centre to watch the game and get the full effect. I had been walking around the city earlier, and many Swiss fans were decked out in full red and waving flags and everything else obnoxious soccer fans do. There were also many people walking around in the Irish jerseys, so it was quite the sight.

On the way into the city to watch the game, we passed the stadium where it was being played and that was quite the sight to see. Because the game was at night, all the lights were on, just the players were on the field, and the stands were packed with green-wearing Ireland fans, and one section set aside for the Swiss was just as mono-coloured in red. Watching the game at a pub was pretty fun as well, but the game was not a very good one in the sense that there was much action. The final ended up being a 0-0 tie, which eliminated Ireland from the World Cup in 2006.

We finally had the rain here in Dublin. There was actually two days in a row that it rained last week for the first time since I arrived over a month ago. Of course, the next two days were very sunny, and beautiful weather, so it is hard to complain at the moment. The one thing you do notice though is how short the day is becoming. Although it rises around 7:45 am, it is setting at 6:30 pm and continues to get earlier. (Yes, I did look up the times on the internet, so call me a dork for that.) It will be really weird at the end of this month and daylight savings time ends, pushing the sunset forward to 5:00 pm.

The next email I write will probably be next week around this time, as I am spending the extended weekend in Paris. I hope everyone is doing great back home, and feel free to send me emails.

Keep in touch,

Dan McGee
Mobile: +353 87 056 4163