By MADISON BLEVINS (July 9, 2018)
Wherever you are in the world, whatever language you speak, one thing can always relate: Sport.
I just got back from a 10 day stint in Europe. I traveled to London, Edinburgh, and Paris with my parents and two brothers and we just so happened to plan our travels around Wimbledon and the World Cup.
My family is from Knoxville, so our blood bleeds orange. There is not a Saturday or Sunday in the fall/winter that is not centered around what football games are being played. We thought we knew what it meant to be a “die-hard” fan… but then, I witnessed England and France advance in the World Cup and saw London, Edinburgh and Paris celebrate.
It was 3pm in Paris on Friday (July 6) and France had just beat Uruguay in the quarter-finals to advance to the semi-finals. We watched the game from a local pub right off the Champs-Élysées. In the final minutes, with France being up 2-0, the guy sitting next to us told us in a heavy French accent: “Get ready, this city is about to erupt,” and that it did.
Horns immediately started beeping all along the Champs-Élysées and it was so loud we could not hear the TV announcers anymore. Fans flooded the streets waving France’s flag proudly and chanting things that I am not even going to try and translate – but, it was obvious they were proud of their country.
It was so cool to be able to see first-hand how much fútbol means to them and how it brings so many people and countries together.
We also watched England advance to the round of 16 while we were in Edinburgh, Scotland. This huge victory sent England to the quarters for the first time since 2006. This was a really cool experience because of the rivalry between Scotland and England. The majority of the people in the pub were native to Scotland, so nothing would have made them happier than seeing England lose. There were only about five people in a very, very crowded pub that were rooting for England to advance. After scoreless extra minutes, England won on penalty kicks and those four England fans stood up and celebrated while the rest of the pub yelled obscene things.
I asked a Scottish man sitting next to why the rivalry between Scotland and England was so strong, and his response was, “because England thinks they sit on the highest throne of all, and Scotland is just there to wipe their butt.” Point taken, sir.
We also made our way to Wimbledon on July 1st, the day before Wimbledon started. I’ve grown up watching Wimbledon and seeing it on TV, but nothing compares to seeing it up close and personal. Wimbledon Stadium sits in the heart of a small town southwest of London and the beauty of this arena is unparalleled.
Last but not least… during our time in Scotland, we also had to pay a visit to the birthplace of golf. We visited the Old Course at St. Andrews, the oldest golf course in the world.