While things didn't start out the way that I had hoped by getting sick on the flight to London, I was able to make a quick recovery and only lost one day of the trip due to illness. The next two days were mostly dominated by baseball games that I attended and what an experience they were.
The London Series -- as it was called -- did a great job of making it more than just a game, but truly making it a great experience for all that attended. There was an area called the Play Ball Park that offered what kids of all ages enjoy -- batting cages, pitching tunnels, virtual reality home run derby, and a wiffle ball field as well.
When it came to the leadup to baseball, both games provided all the pomp and circumstance that you would expect of a historical event, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) being part of the group that threw out the ceremonial first pitch at game one.
When it came to the play on the field, that's where the real excitement was. The first game had a combined 30 runs and was three minutes shy of being the longest nine-inning MLB game in history, and the second game had a combined 20 runs with the Yankees winning both games.
As I planned for the trip, I realized that Wimbledon would be going on during my time in London, and it was something that I could not miss. When I walked through the gates of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, I was in awe of this place. Although I've never been to either event, I felt as if this was a combination of The Masters and The Kentucky Derby.
Making my way to my seat, I realized the lineup for the day's matches were so strong that the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) was in attendance for some of the play that day. Match one featured women's number one Ashleigh Barty, while the second match featured Great Britain's Johanna Konta, and finished with an all-time great Rafael Nadal.
After the matches, I made my way back to the neighborhood pub that was located just around the corner from where I was staying in west London. That night was the Women's World Cup Semi-Final between the USA and England, and I couldn't think of a better place to watch the match. After God Save the Queen was played, the place let out a good roar as everyone was getting excited for the match. I then made my presence known after the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner -- quickly finding out I was the only one cheering on the USA. The match was close, which made for a great atmosphere as the Americans won 2-1. By the end of the match (thankfully), I had been joined by a few other USA fans.
I did do some sightseeing while in town -- touring The Tower of London, going to Buckingham Palace, and viewing London from The Shard (one of Europe's tallest buildings). The places that I enjoyed the most were the Churchill War Rooms -- formerly known as the Cabinet War Rooms, a historic underground complex that housed a British government command center throughout World War II.
I also enjoyed the Palace of Westminster, which is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament (on a personal note, it's the most beautiful building I've ever seen with its architecture and art). Also Westminster Abbey, where the coronation of all British monarchs has taken place since 1066, 16 royal weddings have been held, and over 3,300 people are buried was a sight to behold. I also took time throughout the trip to just get lost for a while, put my phone in my pocket and just walk around neighborhoods, experiencing what life was like outside of the tourist areas.
The final part of my trip that I would like to talk was the most impactful part. Of all of the big cities I've been to (mostly just in the U.S.), London ran at a slower pace. There was more human interaction in London than what I see in our small town most of the time. At meals, people rarely had their phones out. They would also get up and greet people who joined them, and when you would walk by a pub people would be outside talking to each other engaged in what the others were saying. The people of London were some of the nicest that I've ever met, and they truly cared about others, even ones like me they had never met. I hope that I can show more of that same kindness and attentiveness moving forward in my life.
Adam Townsend is a baseball and sports enthusiast who lives in Madisonville and is a two-term member of the Madisonville City Council.