A Travellerspoint blog

January 2009

Superbowls Around the World: A Table of Contents

A history of the Superbowls Around the World concept, and a listing of all the places that I have watched America's biggest and best export.

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I was sitting in a bar in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2004, getting ready to watch the Superbowl, when I suddenly realized that in the past 4 years I had watched the Superbowl in 4 different countries. Because I am a bit of an idiot, I decided to make this a bit of a mission of mine. I planned to try and watch the Superbowl in a new country every year. In 2005 I actually planned to be in Tanzania in January just so I could keep up the streak.

From 2006, though, the entire concept fell apart as it became had to get enough time off to actually get to another country for the Superbowl weekend, and in 2008 I declared the entire undertaking dead.

However, with my move to the United Kingdom in 2008, it means that Assignment Superbowls Around the World is back on again!

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Here is the list of all entries associated with my Superbowl Mission.

2018: On a lovely ski trip in Chamonix, France
2017: Berlin, Germany and Belushi's Bar
2016: Superbowl 50 in Borough, London, England at Roxy's Bar and Screen.
2015: Superbowl 49 in Hammersmith, London, England at Belushi's. Pics, pics, pics and silly twitter statuses abound.
2014: Superbowl 48 in Etobicoke, Canada at Wingporium with good friends, cold beer and hot chicken wings.
2013: Superbowl 47 in Battersea, South West, London, United Kingdom at home
2012: Superbowl 46 in Rome, Italy at Scholar's Lounge, an Irish pub filled with American students
2011: Superbowl 45 in Munich, Germany at the Kultfabrik, in a party hosted by the GFL's Munich Cowboys.
2010: Superbowl 44 in Amsterdam, Netherlands at the Satellite Sports Cafe on The Leidseplein
2009: Superbowl 43 in London, England at an American expat event in Islington on the snowiest day in 18 years.
2008: Superbowl 42 in Toronto, which I didn't bother to write a separate entry about, but rather included in an entry on watching a hockey game in Montreal, Quebec, where I declared the concept dead.
2007: Superbowl 41 at Fox Sport's Grill, Seattle, Washington, USA
2006: Superbowl 40 at Scruffy Duffy's, New York City, New York, USA
2005: Superbowl 39 at Hotel in Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
2004: Superbowl 38 at Nashville South, San Jose, Costa Rica
2003: Superbowl 37 at hotel, Puerto Montt, Chile
2002: Superbowl 36 at Shoeless Joes, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2001: Superbowl 35 at the Sports Column, Denver, Colorado, USA

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From the San Jose paper - they spelt my name incorrectly, but that's me cheering along.

I shall keep this entry update with the latest, as my mission progresses.

Posted by GregW 09:16 Tagged sports superbowls_around_the_world Comments (0)

A Productive Member of Society's First Week

And so it begins!

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This week just finished marked my first week of work. After 8 months, which included a temporary retreat to North America, I am finally one of those damn foreigners stealing English jobs.

On Monday I headed down to Egham for the day for my "induction," quite a sinister sounding word for something actually quite pleasant. In North America we would call it something warm and fuzzy like a "welcome session," "onboarding" or "orientation." What it all works out to is the usual first day stuff, meeting some folks, signing some HR forms and getting set up to join the team.

I had arrived in Egham about 45 minutes earlier than I needed to be, so I wandered around for a bit. You probably have never heard of Egham, but it is the event of quite a famous and world-changing event. It might be somewhat more recognizable if I said it was also known as "a meadow that is called Runnymede."

In 1215, the Great Charter of English Liberties was signed by King John. The Great Charter, known more famously as the Magna Carta, lists 49 specific grievances that the King agreed to remedy, and demanded that the king proclaim certain rights, respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law.

One of the first documents of its kind, the Magna Carta forms the basis of common law and the constitutions of most English speaking countries.

The document is concluded with the phrase, "Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign."

Today, between Windsor and Staines is the town of Egham, which commemorates the signing of the Magna Carta with a number of statues, including this fountain that sits outside of a Tesco.

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After my induction, I headed up to Sheffield to start at my first client. I'll probably be up in Sheffield until at least the end of April, so expect a few more blog entries from there. I didn't see too much my first week, instead using my free time to sleep, as I have to get used to getting up in the mornings again.

It is a nice place, Sheffield. Formerly quite an industrial town focused on mining and later the steel industry, like many places it has tried to rejuvenate itself in the 1990s and 2000s. Today, the city centre is quite pretty, with a number of beautiful old buildings, many open spaces and squares, a number of innovative art, culture and theatrical installations. More on that in future entries, but for now a few photos of the city centre at night.

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Leopold Square, home of a number of restaurants, bars, and a hotel in an old boys school

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The back of city hall, rounded because it holds the Oval Hall

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Grade I listed Town Hall. The building dates back to 1897

Posted by GregW 05:54 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Sir Hans Sloane's Collection

A walk through the British Museum

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Many people have asked if I am taking advantage of my time in London to experience what the city has to offer. I think I am, but inevitably the conversation goes something like this...

"So, what have you seen in London," they ask.

"Lots of stuff," I reply.

"Have you been to the British Museum?" they ask.

"No," I reply.

"I can't believe you haven't been! It's amazing," they say.

"I'm not really a big fan of museums," I offer as half explanation, half apology.

"You should go and see it. It is free, and I think it'll change your mind about museums," they command.

And so I went.

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The British Museum was opened to the public in 1759, and was initially based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. Today the museum is one of the largest collections in the world, with over 7 million items in their collection.

The museum today sits in a massive building, parts of which date back to the 1820s. Newer is the Great Court, the central quad covered by a massive atrium designed by Norman Foster and opened in the 1990s.

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The museum is probably best known for it's Egyptian artifacts, including what seems like 1000s of sarcophagi and a large number of hieroglyphic panels.

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Also well known is the collection of statues and panels from the Parthenon in Athens, known sometimes as the Elgin Marbles. These, though are known due to the controversy of where they should be.

Built nearly 2,500 years ago as a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, the Parthenon had fallen into disrepair by the late 1700s. Between 1801 and 1805 Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire of which Athens had been a part for some 350 years, removed about half of the remaining sculptures from the fallen ruins and from the building itself. Since the early 1980s Greek governments have argued for the permanent removal to Athens of all the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum. The British Museum disagrees, arguing that without them the statues would probably be lost, and that by having them in the museum, the ancient Grecian culture and art is shared with the general public.

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Beyond the Nile Delta and the city-state of antiquity, the museum has a lot of other collections.

There is more from ancient Greece. The Nereid Monument at Xanthos is a tomb, built around 380 BC by Greek architects and sculptors, for a king of Lycia (in south-west Anatolia). Between the columns stand statues of women, often referred to as "Nereids", from which the tomb takes its name.

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There is something about the flowing robes on the statue pictured below that captured my imagination. The robes looks almost silken, even though they are made from marble. For some reason, it reminded me of the song Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith.

here I go and I don't know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
'til I lose my sense of gravity...

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Also inspiring me, but mostly to make stupid puns, were these statues.

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Where are my shorts? I can't remember

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What is everyone looking at?

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Half a head is better than no head at all!

Following on from the Greeks were the Romans, who also happened to control the land upon which the British Museum sits some 2100 years ago.

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This wall is from the Lullingstone Villas, which I tried to visit once before, unsuccessfully, but it still ended up being an interesting day.

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Further away from Europe and Northern Africa, there are lots of artifacts from around the world, including China...

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...the Aztecs...

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...and even the Assyrians (from Iraq).

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One more thing I can check off my list of things to do in London. It is a truly impressive collection, and if you are the type of person that likes Museums, you'll probably love this one. Frankly, I don't like museums so I pretty much ran through the place, going through most every room in one hour and 15 minutes, stopping really only long enough to take the photos you see above. Otherwise, I just really wanted to get out and grab a seat some place.

At least, though, in the future, the conversation will be different.

They will ask, "Have you been to the British Museum?"

"Yes, I have," I will reply.

Then they will ask me about something else that I haven't done (probably a West-end show), but at least I can skip that one question.

Posted by GregW 12:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

A Pint of Lager, A Case of Deja Vu and Two Packets Of Crisps

Sometimes Deja Vu is nothing more than just having been some place before

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I once read an article that suggested that deja vu, the feeling of familiarity with a situation or place that you haven't been before, is simply a case of memories being stored out of order. Instead of the usual case where something gets put in your short-term memory, and then if it is judged worthy, moved to the long term memory, a case of deja vu is when something is put in long term memory before short term memory. Therefore, once the memory is put in your short-term memory, your brain finds it in long term memory, but can't link it necessarily to any actual event in time or space. Instead, it just comes across as a weird feeling that you've been here before.

Yesterday, I was out looking at a flat in the west-end. After checking out the place, I went for a walk around the neighbourhood, and after checking it out, wandered farther afield. I walked for nearly 45 minutes before wandering into a pub on Gloucester Street called the Gloucester Arms. I ordered a pint and started looking at the menu. Looking around, something seemed really familiar about the place. The set up of the tables, the weird angle of the one wall, the flat screen TVs mounted high on the walls.

"Do I know this place?" I wondered. It seemed unlikely, I hadn't been out this way in ages. In fact, I hadn't been in this area of town since moving to London.

In August of 2007, though, I was in the area. I stayed at a hotel just a 10 minute walk away, and once I realized that, I knew when I had been here before.

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It was here that I had my bangers and mash in August of 2007. In my blog entry for my trip to London, I wrote about the pub meal I had at the Gloucester Arms after being told that food in North America was bad for you.

The next day, I ordered bangers and mash in a pub. I am not certain that 4 sausages with a side of potatoes flooded in gravy is exactly health food, but who am I to argue with the nutritional expertise of a drunken drywaller in a London pub.

I skipped the bangers this time, and order the Chicken Kiev, and reflected on the fact that some times that old familiar feeling is because you have been some place before, it just takes a minute to remember it.

Posted by GregW 08:30 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged food Comments (1)

Feeling Good on Blue Monday

I'm happy despite what all the research suggests.

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Today, January 19th, 2009, is the most depressing day of the year. This is according to scientists, who research these things. According to the white coats, as detailed in this article entitled Feeling blue? Today - January 19, 2009 - is the most depressing day in HISTORY, say experts, "Cold weather, fading Christmas memories and broken New Year resolutions mean this period is usually miserable, but the effects of the economic downturn makes this year worse than ever. Millions will feel so glum they will decide to stay in bed and up to a quarter of workers are expected to call in sick, research suggests."

In the event you are interested, the formula for the day of misery reads 1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA, where W is weather, D is debt - minus the money (d) due on January's pay day - and T is the time since Christmas.

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Personally, I am not feeling blue at all.

Firstly, I got my cheque today from the work I did in Phoenix, which was good because I was close to broke, but the cheque means that I won't be kicked out of my flat come the 1st of February.

Secondly, I have some great news. I actually have a job in the UK. I start next Monday, one week from now. After almost 8 months of looking, I have finally closed the deal on a new career. The job is back in consulting, much as I did when I worked in North America, though instead of jetting around North America this time I'll be travelling around by train to locations in Great Britain.

So instead of entries bemoaning the state of air travel in the USA, you can expect all sorts of entries bemoaning the state of train travel in the UK. At least I won't have to deal with airport security.

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The new job, though, means that I am starting to look for a new place to live. There are a large number of train stations in London, and which one you use depends on where you are heading. Most of the stations, however, are on the Circle tube line, with a few key stations south of the river on the Jubilee or Northern lines.

Right now, I am not conveniently located to reach any of the stations. When I went up to Birmingham a few weeks ago, it took me 45 minutes to get to Euston station from my place. Paddington station is an hour away. St. Pancras & Kings Cross is a little closer at 40 minutes travel. Waterloo and London Bridge are the closest, but it will still take me 25 to 30 minutes to reach them.

So I am starting to look for a place to live up in the North-west central part of the city, near Paddington or Kings Cross. That'll make it a short trip on the tube to get to most of the stations. It's also a pretty nice area, and a little more lively than the south end of the Isle of Dogs where I live now.

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Plus, there's always the option for a nice stroll through Regent's Park.

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I start next Monday with a quick trip into the office here in London, and then I am most likely to head up to Sheffield to start a project up there.

It feels good to finally be starting something here in the United Kingdom. While I have been here for 8 months (excluding the 6 weeks spent over in Phoenix), without having been working it hasn't really been like I have settled here. With a job about to start, I am finally feeling like I am becoming a settler here in the UK.

I am no longer a tourist. I am finally a immigrant about to start his new life in his new country.

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Posted by GregW 05:35 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad Comments (3)

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