Why was I awake for that long, you ask? Well, my dedicated reader, Ian and I went to Wimbledon!! On Thursday, our boss offered us Friday off to which we did not hesitate to accept. On Friday morning, our alarm went off at 3:30 AM (yes.. In the morning) and at 4:00 we head off on our bicycles into Cambridge to catch the train. It was actually pretty light out and there was absolutely no traffic going in our direction. We had purchased our train tickets the night before online, so we just had to pick them up from the self serve kiosk. The train was surprisingly busy at that hour, amazing to think people were already heading to work. We dozed on and off and checked out the scenery as we were on a different line than we've taken before to get to London. We got off at our stop and took the tube, then one more train to Wimbledon! At this point it's only about 7:00 so we grabbed a coffee and headed out where there was a Wimbledon info kiosk. We were advised we could take a cab for £2.50 per person or shuttle bus for £3.50 .. We could also walk, but we were in a bit of a hurry to get to The Queue. There were two other people there so the four of us shared a cab which took us right to the entrance. We walked and found ourselves in a huge field with literally thousands of people lined up. We were numbers 6233 and 6234. It was the most organized I've ever seen a line up in my life. The next 5 hours were spent eating all of the food we had packed (and it was a lot), using the toilet, shuffling along a bit, people watching and chatting with the couple behind us and the really nice Danish lady ahead of us - this was her 16th time coming to Wimbledon!!! We spent pretty much that entire morning in the rain, but on the bright side, no matches were to start until 1:30 - so we didn't miss anything! When we got in, we got some food (burgers.. Mine was bright red in the middle and when Ian brought it back the cook said it was fine..... So I didn't eat it. This is probably the only bad thing about the entire day) and then went off to explore a bit. We found the big screen on the hill and tried to watch a doubles match on a court but there was a rain delay. Once they finally started, it was great! I had never seen a doubles match before, so it was cool to see. Really different from singles though - they hardly seemed to let the ball bounce.. It was more like a game of hot potato. After the match, we went to the resale line and waited, keeping our fingers crossed that we would get into Number One Court and see fellow Canadian Milos Raonic (plus it was Canada day!!!) After rain, conversations with a man from Bolivia and an hour and a half, the stewards came down and asked if we wanted Centre Court, Number One Court or Number Two Court tickets.. Since we wanted Number One, we were able to skip ahead to a much shorter line and .. Drum roll .. We got tickets!!!! I'll explain about the resale line later.. So we hurried to check out our seats (much closer than I had ever imagined) and sat down right as Venus Williams (AHHHHH!!!!) got back onto the court to play after yet another rain delay. She handled her opponent easily so we only saw the one set but man, is she amazing. So powerful! Next match (and it still wasn't raining for once) was Novak Djokovic and Sam Querrey. Djokovic was top ranked and I think Querrey was just there to play.. But he won the first set! We ripped out to grab some food cause we were starving. HUGE mistake because we missed the second set.. Which Querrey won and then the heavens opened and it POURED. Another rain delay, but because it was getting late and there aren't lights on that court - no further tennis would be played there that evening. Which meant we wouldn't get to see Sam Querrey oust Djokovic from the tournament (he did that on Saturday) and we wouldn't see Raonic. But we certainly were lucky to see what we did. That's our day at Wimbledon in a nutshell!!!!!
Now, a couple of tips and tricks for your first time to Wimbledon!
1. Arrive at The Queue early! Wimbledon only releases a certain amount of tickets prior to the event. The rest of us have to queue up. You can get general admission tickets for £25 on the same day. But you have to arrive on time! We were there at 7:15 AM and we were behind over 6000 people. If you want Centre Court, Number One Court or Number Two Court..You'll pay a little more and I suggest camping overnight with all the other die hards!
2. Make friends with those around you in line. You'll likely be standing in line for a few hours at the very, very least. So make friends with the people around you!! You never know what may come of it.
3. Dress appropriately and bring extra clothes for any kind of weather. England is insane. It is 20 degrees, sunny and no wind and then all of a sudden it's torrential downpour. And then it's sunny again. And then it rains. And then it rains WHILE it's sunny. So just be prepared.
4. Bring an umbrella. .. Let's face it, you should just have an umbrella with you at all times in England. Almost 4 weeks here and we still haven't bought one.
5. Bring a lot of food and snacks. We packed a lunch and snacks on Thursday night to last us the whole day except for supper. We were pretty well done eating everything by 10:30. There are vendors in the field where the Queue is, but like anything, you'll pay an arm and a leg for mediocre food. Once you're inside the grounds, there are pretty reasonable prices for food.
6. Bring booze!!!!!!! While you're in the Queue, no one will have checked your bags yet, so you can bring as much booze as you want. Want to know the coolest part though? Each person is allowed to bring one bottle of wine OR two cans of beer or premixed spirit IN THE GROUNDS. We didn't realize this until it was too late. Don't be like us. And make sure you bring plastic cups to drink out of.
7. There is airport style security to get in. So be careful! Make sure you know what's in your pack. We almost had to go back to bag check because of our bike tools, but we're lucky enough not to have to.
8. Order Strawberries and Cream. Apparently it's a tradition. Don't ask questions, just do it.
9. Wait in the resale line! When people in centre, number one and number two courts leave the grounds, their tickets are scanned and put up for resale. The money all goes to charity. It's brilliant! It gives those with a simple grounds pass a chance to get seats in the big courts to watch the big names - Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic anyone?! We paid only £10 extra to see them and it only took an hour and a half of queuing. (I'm sure most of the luck was due to the weather)
10. Don't wait in the resale line all day though.. Go out and check things out, catch a match or two on one of the many courts with unreserved seating and then go wait in the queue. You can't even buy tickets til 3:00 PM anyways.
Thanks for reading my novel! I hope if you have ever thought of going to Wimbledon that these tip are helpful for when you DO get to go!! I promise it is an incredible experience.
Dream big dreams, be reckless