Part of our 2012 US/UK/HK Trip. See the explanation and summary entry.
From New York we flew overnight into London and dropped our bags off at the hotel. We were quite buggered, but we decided to go up to Arsenal and have a look at our tile in Armoury Square for the first time. It was great to finally see it first hand. The weather was typical depressing England: cold, overcast, rainy. After that we pretty much just checked into the hotel and took it easy.
Wednesday was the beginning of a not very nice time in London for us. I started becoming increasingly unwell: feeling very nauseas with some not nice stuff coming out the other end either. We spent most of the day in the hotel, and we weren't sure if I was going to make it to the Arsenal game that night; but I was adamant we weren't going to travel around the world to be there for two games and miss out on one. I forced myself to go, and whilst the scenery of the Emirates at night was great, that was about it.
Arsenal played appallingly and lost the game to the Germans 2-0. As per last time we were there, our seats were in the now-renamed Clock End, above the away supporters. The small group of Germans were loud; REALLY loud, and for the entire match. They drowned out most of the other chants and songs that didn't manage to make their way through to the section we were sitting in. Still, it was good seeing a Champions League game at night at the Emirates.
Despite still not feeling very well, the next day we went to the Legends Stadium tour at Arsenal, which was with former player Lee Dixon. The tour with him was great (although not actually great for seeing the stadium, but for hearing Dixon's anecdotes about him playing (which was of course before that stadium was built)), although I had to continuously fight the urge to throw up throughout it. I even mentioned to him that my favourite moment of his was his 2002 FA Cup Final training bib run from behind the goal after Freddie Ljunberg's goal. He laughed and said that he didn't get to play in that match.
The next day (Friday), my illness continued, and despite the nausea settling down, the action at the other end didn't. Considering my history with my colitis that was suspected as flaring, I was advised to go to hospital. So we spent the afternoon at the hospital in Euston waiting to be checked out. It was quite an ordeal, with sick people everywhere, security incidents happening right in front of us in the waiting room, police and alike.
I eventually got checked out and got some immunosuppressant medication, and by then I felt well enough for us to try and rush to make the Les Miserables performance that we had tickets to that night. We missed the first few songs, but made it in for "I dreamed a dream". It was my first time and it was a great show, our dress circle seats were fantastic too.
By this time London had become absolutely freezing. It was a maximum of 8C but with the Arctic wind chill coming from the north, the maximum felt closer to freezing. The BBC Weather report described it as "bitterly cold".
On Saturday, the freezing temps continued, so we decided to stay at the hotel until the second Arsenal game's kick-off later that afternoon. We got to the game a little late, and it was a largely frustrating one. Trying to keep warm in the freezing wind was made easier by screaming abuse at the players and the referees. Unlike at home watching it on TV, nobody there can complain to me that i'm too loud and that my that protestations wouldn't make any difference. It was a welcome change :).
Arsenal ended up winning the game 1-0, which was largely deserved if not a long time coming. I even got to sing "One-Nil to the Arsenal", and following more than a few stupid refereeing decisions, "You don't know what you're doing!!" too. Great stuff. One thing I did notice though, is that in all three games we've now watched at the Emirates, Arsenal have not scored one goal up our end of the stadium. 🙁
Following the game we went around and took photos of the various new statues and exhibits before the rain forced us back to the hotel.
Still feeling unwell, we took it easy in the hotel and packed, and took advantage of late checkout before flying out to Hong Kong that night. All in all, our time in London wasn't that great. We were really hampered by illness, but we did manage to make it to all the stuff that we had pre-booked, so it wasn't a complete write-off.
One thing that struck us at the airport that night was all the cancelled flights heading to and from New York. We had timed our run to the US east coast at exactly the right time by the look of it. Airports, subway, buses, all public transport systems all shut down. We were very glad we got out before that!