One of the great things about being over in Europe, is that football isn’t over. With the end of the Super Bowl, the season of football that we love as Americans has closed another chapter. However, football… or soccer… or whatever you want to call it, is still going strong over here. I’ll call it soccer in this post as not to confuse any non-sports centric readers. This week I had the privilege of experiencing a couple of different things regarding soccer over here, while also seeing some cool parts of Liverpool and Swansea.
As I shared last week, I don’t have class on Wednesdays while I’m here. So to take advantage of the day off this past week, I hopped on a train and rode it north to Liverpool. I got on a train late Tuesday night in Swansea and rode it through the night, hitting multiple stops, until I arrived in Liverpool early Wednesday morning.
After arriving in Liverpool, I just started wandering around the city centre. I was taken aback by the modern mixed with the classic. Right outside of the gorgeous train station, there were classic art and history museums, as well as a large government building.
I spent some time walking around taking in the buildings and shops before I stopped for a full English breakfast. If you guys take away one thing from this post, let it be this; the English are doing breakfast right. I would’ve taken a picture of what a full English breakfast looks like, but I was so hungry that I had eaten it all by the time I could pull out the camera. The delicious plate consisted of eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, toast, hash-browns, and a grilled tomato to top it all off. I’m not a huge tomato fan, but everything else on that plate mixed well and left me with a happy stomach.
After breakfast, I hopped into a taxi and had him take me to my first scheduled tour of the day. A tour of the Liverpool Football (or soccer) Club stadium, Anfield. Now those who know my sports tastes, know that I haven’t been into soccer my whole life. Really my interest in soccer took off once I got to college. After rooming with multiple soccer players and fans, going to soccer games with my sister and brother-in-law, playing FIFA on xbox, and playing intramural soccer, I started to really get a good understanding and respect of the rules and athleticism of the game. I started watching European soccer with my friends, especially the Barclays Premier league, the top league in the UK. As with any professional sport, I needed a team to follow and support. I chose Liverpool. I made this decision because of a scarf my sister got me years ago while she was in London, before I even knew who they were. After a few years of supporting Liverpool regularly, I knew visiting their historic stadium was a must-do while I was over here.
I arrived at the stadium and was surprised at its location. It was situated in the middle of an English neighborhood. No giant parking lots surrounding it or anything of significant size. The stadium, which is already large by itself, looks even larger when looming over small homes and shops. The tour began and we were taken into the executive suites, the upper deck, the dressing room, and finally all the way down to the field.
The tour lasted about an hour, and it was really cool to see all the in’s and out’s of a stadium that is well over 100 years old. After the tour, we had the opportunity to visit the club’s museum and team store. I love museums, and one of the great things about traveling about yourself is that you can take as much time to read up on everything there is to offer. So after spending an hour or so in the museum, I went to the store and got myself a jersey as a souvenir for the trip.
After taking a bus back to the city centre, I took the mile and a half trek down to the Liverpool dock to visit The Beatles Story museum. The Beatles Story museum is a collection of the band’s memorabilia that is used to tell the story of The Beatles from start to finish. I’m not the biggest fan, but I do enjoy their music and I love learning more about history! The museum is housed in the band’s original favorite venue, as they are all from Liverpool. Walking through the museum, again reading all the stories the plaques and artifacts had to offer. It was really cool to see and experience the story of one of the most influential groups in pop culture and entertainment history. Some of the highlights were original guitars used by the members, the original club where they played their first hit “Love Me Do” set up as it was when they played there, and an end memorial for John Lennon. I also found the explanation of the infamous Beatles drummer switch very interesting.
I finished up my day in Liverpool by getting another delicious dinner at a local pub, before getting on a train to get back to Swansea by midnight. After finishing out the school week, I got ready for my Saturday plans, my first Premier League soccer game.
Swansea City is a top level soccer team, located right in the middle of the city. The university sponsors the team, so I was able to get a discount ticket for the weekend match. It was Swansea City v. Southampton, and I had a front row ticket. I took a bus to the stadium, which is relatively new stadium, opened in 2005. I got there early, so I went to club store to get something to wear to show who I was supporting. I wasn’t planning on getting another jersey, but they were 25% off, so I gave in and added a second jersey to my now growing British soccer jersey collection. I found my seat, which was an incredible view, and got ready for the game. The game was a very intense and exciting game, even though it only resulted in one goal. Southampton scored late, and unfortunately secured the 1-0 victory. Due to the traffic and overcrowded buses, I decided to walk back to the city center. After getting some dinner, I headed back to my flat, made some dinner, and called it a night.
I spent the rest of the weekend running errands and trying to figure out how to due laundry for the first time here. After a FaceTime date with my girlfriend for Valentines Day and a homemade pizza dinner for one, I determined the week a success. I’m looking forward to another week adventuring and experiences to enjoy. I don’t know what I am doing this upcoming weekend yet, so come back next week to check up on how I spent the week.
Thanks again for everyone keeping up and supporting this adventure! Check in next week for more Stories From Swansea!