Rewind: I had booked a hostel for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights in London, but decided that to save money, I would just keep my bag locked up at that hostel and camp out overnight in the queue for Saturday’s matches. Well I wake up Friday morning to a lot of rain. I do what I can tourist-wise and get the sense that the rain is not going to let up anytime soon. So I’m thinking it’s a good idea to find a hostel, clean myself up, get some rest and head to the queue before sunrise.
Maybe I shouldn’t have gone to a hostel with a bar.
So yeah, I end up at this great, social hostel in Bayswater, near Hyde Park—tons of people, great atmosphere, nice little bar and pool room. I end up down there for most of the night. I finally head to bed around 3 with the idea of waking up at 5 and high tailing it to Wimbledon.
Fast forward: I overslept my alarm. Wake up just before 8 am and half-ass, somehow find my way to the tube (a whole block and a half away) and make the trek to Wimbledon in the rain. As I make my way toward the queue under the impression that there are 500 Centre Court tickets, 500 Court 1 tickets and 500 GA tickets. So I’m a bit dismayed when I get in line and am handed a ticket letting me know that I’m number 2321st in line. I ask the purpose of the card “Is it to rub it into my face that I overslept?” Nope, I need to present this at the front of the line in order to get a ticket. No queue card, no Wimbledon.
Woah! I must have gotten that dejected look on my face, but the line person quickly assures me that I’ll get GA tickets. I say to the guy, “So what you’re saying is that there is a fat chance in hell I’m going to see Nadal play?” He smiled and pointed me to the end of the queue. As I head to my place in the queue, I keep thinking of what luck I have that it’s raining out. Here’s the only day left for me to go and it has to be this weather. I’m hoping the rain doesn’t become a pattern.
Just when I think it can’t get any worse, I get to my spot and discover that I’m standing behind a group of students all decked out in their Maize and Blue Michigan gear…honestly, what next, a group of Bear fans behind me! I wanted some cool Brits to converse with, not some sophomores from Ann Arbor (Ok, they weren’t that bad, but not the ideal for me!).
In other news, the Brits sure know how to make a queue interesting. You’re given a 35-page guide to “Queuing for the Championships.” It tells you the fine art of queue code of conduct (“Please have regard for our neighbours and others in the queue by adopting reasonable social behaviour at all times”), a map of the courts, and how to enjoy the championships (You can rent a cushion for only 2.50 quid a day!). I also got some cute little stickers saying, “I queued for Wimbledon 2007” and “I queued in the rain.”
So I spent a couple hours in a queue, in the rain, and finally got to the ticket counter. It cost me 18 pounds for a GA ticket, which included the standing room only section of Court No. 2, which happened to be the court Venus Williams would open up on. I headed to Court No. 2 just to get into another queue for a half hour. Around noon I make it up there, but no need to fret missing that half hour of action, b/c we’re still on rain delay. Around 1:30 the match commenced. Then, 1.5 sets into the match, we go back to rain delay.
I decided to leave Court No. 2 and buy some Centre Court resale tickets in the hopes that the rain would lift and I could watch Nadal, who was due up next. I get a resale ticket 5 rows up from the net. Now I know the rain’s not going to stop. I headed to the huge outdoor theatre screen and watch an old match b/t Federer and Sampras. Finally, some good tennis.
Once that was over, I opted to get my strawberries and cream. Let me tell you, it lives up to its hype! I’m about halfway through when they call all the matches on account of rain. Since the rain had never let up, it’s almost a good thing I overslept, b/c otherwise I would have been outside freezing cold and wet for a lot longer. Plus, even if I had gotten Centre Court tickets, I still would have opted to watch Venus Williams in the first match of the day. Nadal was to be the second match on Centre Court.
So went my Wimbledon experience and everything in my backpack (it was the second coming of the flood inside it).
Rain and all, I’d do it again.