Saturday, June 15, 2013

Singing to the Queen, Waiting for the Boss

I am sitting on the concourse of Wembley Stadium.

It is raining pretty heavily, but I am under cover.

It is 3:48pm, I am waiting for the gates to open at 5:30 for a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert scheduled for 7:00pm.

You may wonder what I am doing here so early. Although with no wi-fi around, by the time I post this--perhaps not until Sunday in Krakow--and you read it, it should be moot.

And the rain seems to have either stopped or slowed.

Anyway, about my day so far. After leaving my hotel around 9:30am and took the Tube to Trafalgar Square. 

I went to the National Gallery, which like the Tate Modern yesterday, is free for its permanent gallery. I've been there before several times, perhaps on every visit to London, including a rather perplexing one  last time (the DaVinci exhibit fiasco).

I allotted myself an hour, which ordinarily would be rather short for one of the world's greatest art museums. But it was enough time for me to see several highlights, such as Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres, five Van Goghs-- though Sunflowers was on loan--DaVinci's Madonna of the Rocks and a (relocated) gallery with Raphaels and Michelangelos.

-- Note: I've now relocated to Gate M, but an still outside Wembley --

After the National Gallery, I walked--as I had planned--to Buckingham Palace. I was intending just to see the Changing of the Guard at 11:30am, but was surprised to learn that it is Queen Elizabeth's birthday. Or at least the official celebration of it.

So there were huge crowds, tons of marching Beefeaters, horses and bands, airplane flyovers and the Royal Family appearing on the palace balcony. So, albeit with my binoculars I had on me to see Bruce, I saw the Queen, William, Kate, Harry and assorted others. I'm no big fan of the Royals, but can't deny it was fun witnessing the hoopla.

Then came the first minor fiasco of the trip. I was planning to visit the grounds of Wimbledon and even had booked a tour for 2:30pm. 

Because of the festivities at the Palace, I was literally on lockdown until 1:30, but shlepped to the Victoria underground, only to learn upon the platform that the tube to Wimbledon wasn't running there, requiring taking a roundabout way to get there, including a bus.

No thanks. 

Already concerned with wanting to get to Wembley because my ticket for Springsteen was at will-call--shame on Ticketmaster UK for being unable to ever mail a ticket bought on December 7--J wasn't about to mess around with Tube re-routes and buses, especially to see empty tennis courts.

So here I am at Wembley. Though get this: my ticket wasn't here. Ticketmaster UK are complete screw-ups. Luckily, the box office was able to print another one, on the commemorative ticket stock, but I'm glad I didn't come at 6pm and have to deal with a long line and a missing ticket.

If Ticketmaster had managed to get me my ticket in hand, I would've been able to go to a matinee musical and not worry about getting to Wembley so early.

It's now 4:35. And it's pretty darn cold.

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