July 29, 2011
Seniors Cathy Hebert and Gwen Branscome are defensemen for the UC lacrosse team and are spending part of their summer in London, England for the London Lax Challenge with Sherry Sports Tours International, an organization aimed at giving collegiate and post-collegiate athletes the opportunity to participate in tournaments and team camps all over the world. For the next week, Hebert will provide updates for GoBEARCATS.com as the duo competes internationally, experiences a new culture of lacrosse and roams the royal city.
Hello from London, Bearcat fans!
Gwen and I landed at Heathrow International Airport a little after 11 a.m. Thursday morning. After clearing customs and rendezvousing with our tour director, we grabbed a cab to our hotel. The long flight quickly caught up to us and we were really craving some food. We quickly unpacked and headed out in town. One of the first places we stumbled upon was a gourmet burger place – our starvation and exhaustion made it an easy decision. Between the delicious burger and the Johnny Cash music (are we really in London?), it was a great meal. After our team meeting at 2 p.m., we were free until we had to meet for our 4 p.m. bike tour.
While on the extremely touristy but well worth it bike tour, we fit in a lot of sightseeing — from palaces to pubs, we pretty much saw it all. We learned a lot of informational tidbits as well. For example, when Winston Churchill was asked if he wanted a statue of himself erected in London after he died, he said, “No, because I don’t want a bunch of pigeons sitting on my head.” So when they built the statue of him in front of Parliament, they put an electrical ring on top of it so pigeons can’t sit there. Who would’ve thought?
Following the bike tour, we had a team dinner at Wagamama’s Asian noodle bar. Not only was the food amazing, it also allowed all of us to get to know each other. It was a short night though, since we were all so tired from the flight. It didn’t take long for all of us to pass out in our beds!
After an early breakfast, our team headed out to our first practice/training session, which was held at a facility just outside Wimbledon. From 9 a.m. till noon, we did stick work, drills and scrimmaged with the Welsh U-19 team to help them prepare for the World Cup in Germany next week. The girls were really cool and we all had a ton of fun. After practice we made a quick pit stop at our hotel before heading out for more sightseeing.
Our first stop was St. Paul’s Cathedral located near Upminster, London. The gorgeous 1,400-year-old cathedral has three viewing decks. The whispering gallery is the first one and is 257 steps above the main floor. Our hike continued another 78 steps to the Stone Gallery. If you’ve ever been up the Empire State building in New York City, this outdoor balcony gave a similar view of London – breathtaking! Our final viewpoint was 192 more steps to the Golden Gallery at the peak of the cathedral. For those of you keeping count at home, we walked 527 individual steps in only 10 minutes! This final balcony was about four feet wide and more crowded than you would expect, but well worth it!
Our final stop of the day was the Tower of London where we did an audio walking tour of the grounds. Strangely enough, Gwen and I mostly saw the various prisoners, the types of tortures used, and all of the royalty’s weaponry. This slightly morbid tour was very interesting and educational. We’re all currently enjoying some down time before we embark on whatever tonight’s festivities may be!
So long for now!