A Weekend in London: From a Protest to The Goonies…

What a busy weekend! It included a protest, a Welsh scavenger hunt, a vicious game of British Monopoly, and a viewing of The Goonies…

Let me start at the beginning. Arriving in London was a bit of shock, weather-wise. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was used to long warm Spanish days with 70 degree weather and a sunset at 7:45pm. Now, in London, I’m introduced to 50 degree cloudy rainy weather with a sunset at 5:55pm. However, I’ve almost been too busy these last 2 days to notice.

Oh, before I go any further, here’s another change I realized. I never really thought about it, but I had been out of an English-speaking country for 38 days. Before I approached shopkeepers or tube station attendants, I started to ask myself, “How can I say this simply? Or how can I say this in my baby-Spanish/French? Will I understand their answer?” Then I did a double-take and thought, “Wait a minute. They all speak English! I don’t have to worry about a language barrier!” Oh, things are SO much easier in London.

Saturday morning started bright and early. I met my friend Ryan for field service in the Stanmore area of London. No, I’m exactly sure where that is either, but I think it’s somewhere in the NW area. After that, we went to meet Ryan’s friend Chris in central London with a bunch of Chris’ friends who were visiting from Wales. We tried to meet Chris & Co near the Westminster tube station. However, we got out of the tube station and this is what we found…

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Apparently there was a huge protest going on right in front of Big Ben. Picket signs, megaphone calls and people – lots and lots of people. From what I could gather, they were protesting budget cuts, the war, and the Tories. The loads and loads of people there made it difficult to get around. So we actually crossed the protest to get to the other side. Hopefully no photos were taken of us…

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Safely on the other side of the River Thames after crossing the protest

After that fiasco, we finally met up with Chris and the friends from Wales. They were doing a scavenger hunt throughout the city, sort of based on Monopoly. Basically it involved taking photos with Rail Station signs, Street signs, and with team members doing some different tasks. Ryan and I were placed on a team with some of the Welsh brothers and sisters. I then proceeded to make faux pas #1 and refer to them as “English”. Oops. Apparently I can call them “Brits”, but never call a Welsh person “English”. Lesson learned. Despite that snafu, we all got on really well together. I’ll probably never know which team won, but in this case, the journey was a lot more important than the ending.

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The one good thing about the protest is that this bridge that’s normally opened to traffic, was closed. Richard took this opportunity to pose next to the bike. Or should I say “on top of a bike”? Must be a Welsh thing…

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Our team

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Any resemblance between these guys and the ones on the poster?

Now that was Saturday. Today, Sunday, I had to get up early again to meet Olivier and Ryan for Olivier’s 9:30am meeting in NE London. That meant getting up at 7am to be on the bus by 7:50am to start the journey. Ugh… Despite that, it was great to see these guys again and to meet the super friendly and warm brothers & sisters in Olivier’s congregation.

After this spiritually uplifting morning, we got together with some of Ryan & Olivier’s friends. It started out with a supposedly nice game of Monopoly. However, I don’t think “nice” and “Monopoly” can truly ever go together. Especially when you’re with a bunch of guys…

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Boo gets in the game, too!

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I knew I was already at a disadvantage when I saw these cards. Where are Boardwalk, Reading Railroad and Kentucky Avenue? Oh, and everything’s in pounds. Welcome to the British Version of Monopoly…

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Ryan’s a bit worried…

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How stereotypical – make the Asian the banker… 😉

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Olivier tries to make a deal…

And the winner is… we’ll never know. Things got a bit heated (though everyone still left friends thankfully) and we ran out of time. I would have liked to have call things a 7-way tie, but no one was in agreement with me. Men…

The night, however, ended on a high note, with a viewing of The Goonies. Surprisingly enough, I had never watched The Goonies before, and it was pretty entertaining to watch an American 80’s movie about kids in Oregon while hearing the ongoing commentary by the guys around me with British accents.

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Chris borrowed my camera to take these shots. I must say he did a really good job!

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Olivier successfully rescuing his stray Monopoly “house” that got sucked up by the vacuum cleaner at the end of the night. He’s happy and so is the vacuum cleaner.

What a weekend! I am exhausted and am so looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. Good night and cheerio!

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