Manchester United v FC Barcelona : The Roadtrip
28 July 2011 – 31 July 2011
As with all roadtrips, I find it necessary to plan, plan, plan, and then plan again. Those plans will always get revised no matter what I do and no matter which schedule I try to stick to. That’s only normal, and I don’t know why I even bother to make plans. I do, though. It drives me crazier than it should and it probably wasn’t worth it in the end, but that’s what I do. I guess it makes me feel better about going into a new city more or less by myself.
That being said, Washington DC. What a lovely city. Our story starts, as is the norm, the night before I was to leave. Why is the night before significant? Manchester United versus the MLS All Stars, but more specifically, watching our David go head to head against his boyhood club. The mach, of course, didn’t even kick off until 20h, when I was supposed to be asleep. Of course not. My thoughts of “oh, I’m just going to watch the first half and then I’m going to go to bed.” were dashed to bits once the goals started flowing. First touch of the second half did me in, though, and there was no way I was going to turn it off and go to bed. It’s funny, though, watching the first goal, the one-two between Rooney and Berbatov to set up Anderson was flawless. It really looked like the MLS squad was waiting for Beckham to do all the work to deny Ando his goal. A word to the wise, one player does not a team make. Berbatov’s goal in the second half, of course, was beautiful. A bit of luck and a bit of skill, makes for a beautiful goal.
Listening to the commentators go absolutely mental when it comes to watching world class footballers do what they do, grates, and with the post match going to 23h…it was definitely time to call it a day.
The real holiday started four hours later, when at 0300, my alarm went off and I was up and off to the airport via my dad’s house. If I don’t have to pay to park, then I’m not going to. Simple as that. The thing that I like about flying in and out of the Dayton International Airport is that their security is quick and efficient. They definitely believe in “get them in, get them screened, and get them on their flights.”. if I said that sitting in the cabin at that hour didn’t make me a little bit homesick, I would be lying to you. Whenever I’m at the airport at that hour, I’m usually on a flight back to New York City, but I digress. The flight itself, fortunately, wasn’t full. As flights of that hour usually are, it was a commuter flight, mostly full of businessmen etc needing to get to the Capitol to do whatever it is that they do. Just when you think that something is too good to be true…on walks that family. It wasn’t the family with the baby, it was the family with the dad in white trainers and white socks pulled up to his knees, the family with the wife in mom jean shorts and the fanny pack and the kid who clearly had too much sugar cereal. It was the tourist family.
Anyone who knows me well knows that there are few things that I hare more in the world than kids and that’s tourists. Before i get hate mail stating, “Oh! But technically you’re a tourist too.” I’m well aware of that fact. I know that I’m technically a tourist, but there are two things that distinguish me from them. First: I’m well prepared. I know where I’m going, for the most part, and I’ve sussed out my journey to the very best of my ability. Second, i take pride in trying to blend in with the locals. It’s something that I’ve learned when I go home. Sure I don’t live in Manhattan, but there is nothing about my outward appearance that screams “I’M A TOURIST PLEASE COME AND MUG ME. THANKS.” I’m not walking around in tourist trainers and I’m not sitting there with my sun visor and my fanny pack. Never ever will I do that. Even when I go to Europe, I try to do a little bit of research so that I don’t stick out like a thumb.
I’ve gone and gotten ahead of myself already. If anyone has ever flown into DCI, which is the Ronald Regan International Airport, knows generally the flight pattern that one would take when beginning one’s descent into the Washing DC metro area and what you’re going to see if you look out of the window. We began our descent at 0700ish and…you guessed it. The tourist family had to pipe up. I posted the following on my facebook page when we laded and it more or less sums up the entire last 45 minutes while we were on board the plane: “dear tourist family in the back of the plane: it is not necessary to, at 0700 to SQUEAL at everything you see as we fly over it. yes, we’re all aware that we just flew over the pentagon and no, they’re not going to let you in to “pretend to be NCIS.” If that kid and his parent didn’t shut up about having just flown over every single sodding monument, then I swear to Jesus Navas that I was going to strangle each and every one of them with my iPod headphone cord.
Moving on. Disembark, train ticket, train, hostel, in that order. If there is one thing that I appreciate about being a New Yorker it’s that I can sort myself out fairly quickly in a large city, and if I can’t then there are always smart phones with GPS. That said, one wrong turn and i was sorted at the hostel and on my way to have a bit of a walk about with my itinerary. First stop, the Natural History Museum. Having landed at the crack of dawn meant that I got into the museums just as they opened, which also meant that I hit the exhibits when there was nobody there. To be able to stand in front of the big exhibits all by myself was really a treat. It was really nice to be able to walk around and enjoy things instead of having to fight through crowd of, you guessed it, tourists and idiot women who “ohmigawd I HAVE tuh see thuh [Hope] Diamond.” There were no kids, no tourists, no nobody. It was beautiful.
A quick tour through the big stops knowing that I’d hit the smaller exhibits later when I came back and I was off to the Art History Museum. By this point in my day, only just after noon, I was exhausted. Walking around in the heat in improper shoes (which is a long story in and of itself), and not being properly hydrated really took a lot out of me. This is not something that I am going to particularly complain about, though, because as I was sitting on the bench in the art museum checking my twitter feed to see if everyone had landed safely or not brought something very interesting to my attention: Gary Neville, Andy Cole, and Paddy Cerand were going to be at a pub not three blocks from where I was staying. To say that I was excited would be an understatement. Sending a few messages back and forth with one of the guys is was meeting up with at the match confirmed that it was an open event and that we were going. No questions asked.
So back to the hostel I went to both change and to get my 02/04 home shirt to change into at the bar. The walk to get to the pub was probably the longest thing in the world. I got there entirely too early and sat at the starbucks next door. That hour was the longest hour of my life. When Mike and Jason (two of the people I was meeting up with before the match on Saturday via the #MUFCinDC tweet up) said that they were already inside, I panicked and headed over there. They had already gotten a table right in front of where Gaz, Andy, and Paddy were to be seated and by that time, I knew that was that.
I don’t remember much before they got there, to be honest. It was kind of a whirlwind. Their entrance of sorts was kind of a cliché because the bar was dark and once they opened the front door, the whole room was filled with light. You can only imagine the scene that was played out in my head: doors open, angels singing…the whole nine yards. Poor Gaz, we sang him in with a rousing rendition of “Gary Neville is a Red” and he didn’t know what to do but sit there and chuckle. There were questions and answers, there were chants galore, and there were signings. I clammed up because…you know..it’s Gary Neville. By the time all was said and done, Jason had pushed me at Gaz, I had gotten a few pictures and left in a bit of a daze.
[Nick Coppack from MUTv. FIT AS.]
[don’t even look at the fact that i’m disgusting and sweaty and offensive and exhausted. i’m standing next to Gary Neville. GARY NEVILLE. AND HE’S SMILING [or humouring me. i don’t know.]
From there I split up from the boys, and met my friend sara for dinner. I honestly thought that that was the end of my day. Even if it had been, I would have been very very happy. There were other things in the cards, of course, as there always are. I went back to my hostel and received a text “hey, we’re all at the [Mike’s] hotel. Come hangout with us” I brushed it off, thinking that I needed to sleep, but then I also received a text from our mutual friend and another #MUFCinDC twitterer saying that he had landed from Monterrey,Mexico and that he wanted to do something, anything that didn’t require him sitting alone in his hotel room. By that time, I knew that I really didn’t have a choice in the matter; I was going to the hotel on the other side of town to go hang out with the boys. What was going to be a few hours turned into a few more hours which turned into a dance party which turned into a few more hours and before we knew it, it was 3am and mike and tony had fallen asleep. The specific events surrounding the dance party and the events that transpired afterwards will be addressed in a more prudent forum. Lights out at 3am. Jason and I work up at just past 6 and left the hotel just past 7.
Buenas noches, Senor Honso.
End Part One.