108 | 241 | 309 - London buses

Monday, September 14, 2009

I've been reading the Route1to499 bus blog for some months now. Ben - who writes it - is trying to travel on all London's bus routes. He'll be doing this until 2012.

The idea tickled me, so I asked Ben to accompany him on some trips. So today, me and he went on three routes (108, 241, 309) from the grimy / glittering heights of Lewisham to buzzy-with-anticipation Stratford, from there to down at heel Canning Town, and finally from there through the residential heart of Tower Hamlets to Bethnal Green.

Some highlight sights were:

Overall, it was an interesting trip, and really made me realise how amazing London's buses are. There was nothing outstanding about these three routes: they were ordinary, work-a-day trips. But the very fact that they exist is brilliant.

Futebol! Football with London's Portuguese fans.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last night, I went to South Lambeth Road to watch Portugal play Hungary and cheer along with the Portuguese fans.

Portuguese football fans, London

London's Portuguese football watching venues have been written about before, but I've been wanting to go since I went to Portugal earlier this year. I wanted to see if the food would be any better than the not-so-tasty Portuguese fare.

All the bars along the road were showing either the Portugal match or the that and the England match (and any other match they could fit in).

The first bar - Estrella - was all very animated. People were happily chatting and drinking, but not really paying too much attention to the match. A middle-aged woman sat in the corner reading a book.

A man with a crutch came in, making a lot of bluster and noise while ordering his beer. When Portugal scored soon after, he dropped the crutch, jumped about, did a little dance with his arms aloft. So much for the crutch!

He later started talking to me (in Portuguese). When he realised that I wasn't from Portugal, he started to tell me a very rambling story about Coimbra University. It was fascinating!
Portuguese football fans, London

At half-time, I took myself off to a second bar - Grelha D'Ouro - with more fans watching, chatting and not really paying great attention. One complained (in English) that the Portuguese players were just wasting time. Another kept trying to engage me in conversation, in Portuguese. It was all very social.

The match continued on, but it was rather dull (or is it that I don't actually like football that much?).

And, for the record, although I didn't actually eat, the food all looked pretty similar.

Piłka nożna! Football with London's Polish fans.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Polish football fans, Balham, London

I went to watch Saturday's Poland -v- Northern Ireland soccer match with Polish fans, at the White Eagle Social Club in Balham.

Many, many fans - mainly male - had gathered there to watch the game. I entered into a big ballroom - which was almost dark - with a screen at one end, and about 100 fans watching the match. Moments later, green disco lights came on, and I saw that the room had chandeliers, records hanging from the ceiling and tinselly curtains. How fabulous.

Moments later, a burly man wearing glowsticks around his neck walked past. How curious.

The match itself was quite boring, only made interesting by watching the Polish manager who had the arch facial expressions of a grand Shakespearean actor.

Half-time brought adverts for Nivea, Nike, Orange & Volkswagen (every country is the same), and one for a flavour powder that is sprinkled on food called Smack (every country is not the same).

I wandered to the lounge (with charming blue chenile draped in front of lamps) to watch the second half. In fact, my eyes wandered to the fit bouncer outside rather than the less-than-exciting match. As Poland equalised, the fans cheered loudly, and continued to do so, even as the match limped home to a boring draw.