Another (WAY too early – Red) early morning escape. We took a 4am train out of Cologne to the airport and took a very short flight into London (the Stansted Airport, another one of those not-in-the-actual-city-you-want-to-end-up-in airports). So, onto the bus we went hoping to arrive at Victoria Station within the hour to do a little sightseeing before our check-in time.
And then we learned something: normal London midday traffic is worse that L.A. (and Hawaii! – Red) rush hour; every road the bus took was another barely moving parking lot. I’m fairly certain there’s a British law that no more that twelve feet can be between stoplights. On the plus side, we definitely got to see a lot of London through the bus windows. Unfortunately, it was a three hour bus ride.
We finally arrived at the station, walked a couple of blocks and got our first glimpse at Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. I’ve been to London a couple of times, but these buildings are always awe-inspiring. Oddly, to rewind back to our arrival at the airport, when asked by the customs official for the reason of our visit, I replied, “The beautiful London sunshine.” This was met by a stiff chuckle and cold look as she stamped my passport. Well, customs lady, I won this round. Too bad you were stuck inside stamping passports all day! Because on this particular (and only, during our visit) day, the sun was shining and not a cloud was to be seen in the sky.
Want to know the real reason? Because it was freakin’ Mumford and Sons day! (Hell yeah! – Red)
Mumford and Sons
Now, if you’re thinking that we flew all the way to London just to see a concert… well, you’d be correct. But how many opportunities in our lives will we have to see Mumford and Sons play in their hometown? Not too many. (But the answer is more than one. Just keep reading… – Red)
It was epic. The O2 Arena was an incredible venue. Even with our seats in the very back of the nosebleeds, the performance was phenomenal. The sound, the lights, the effects, all spectacular. And the band… absolutely incredible. I’ve never seen a band that plays like they do. It’s as if they’re playing every song for the first time. Their level of passion and fire is astonishing. They play with pure heart and soul. Just an awesome show.
Coming down from our post show high (the natural kind, this isn’t Utrecht), Red and I were having a couple of drinks talking about the music when she casually mentioned an intriguing proposition: if I could find two tickets to the next Mumford and Sons show the following night for less than £100 (which we both thought was near impossible), she would allow the budget destruction. Challenge both accepted and accomplished.
£98.93 later, (cutting it quite close Sir, but quite impressive as always – Red) we were back in the O2 the following night for another Mumford and Sons experience. We even had better seats! And somehow, they were even better on the second night. If you ever get the opportunity to see them play live, take it, it may just be the best show you ever see.
If you think we’re crazy for spending the extra money and going to the same show twice, I dare you not to do the same thing after seeing these incredible musicians perform live. Not only are they amazing performers, they are incredibly genuine people. You could clearly see how passionate they were about what they were doing, and how thankful they all were that we (the audience) were there. We weren’t there for them, but they were there for us. The countless ‘thank yous’ and audience engagement was truly touching. It’s so inspiring to participate in an event like that. As Steven said, if you have the opportunity to see these guys play live, don’t miss them!
The rest of our trip was spent in the rainy wind of foggy London town (I blame the customs lady’s bad attitude). We walked all over the city, played in the tube, and even took a trip over to King’s Cross for Red’s super nerd moment of the trip: Platform 9 3/4, which they’ve actually turned into quite the tourist spectacle; there’s even a guy that loans you a scarf and helps you pose for your special nerd photo, which Red handled with her usual class, maturity, and sophistication.
We ate spicy curry on Brick Lane, passed by Shakespeare’s Globe, and walked along the River Thames. I think we actually managed to cross every bridge in central London. We passed through the Borough Market, dodged every museum, watched several (as in hundreds – Red) Santa Clauses (I don’t think anyone knows how to spell that plural) on stunt bikes, and I even bought a bowler hat (which I look magnificently dapper in). (Yes he did! – Red)
All things considered (even the rain), we had an absolutely awesome time in London.
Next stop: Berlin! (And STAR WARS! – Red)