Admittedly, when I hear someone mention BIG BEN I usually think they are talking about Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. But, this week I’m in London for the 49ers/Broncos game for CBS. And, I’ve seen a lot of impressive sights, none better than Big Ben the clock. I know it’s just a clock tower, but it is striking and imposing. I loved hearing the bell ring at the top of the hour. And, it was interesting to find out that the clock name is open to discussion. It’s a reference to either Sir Benjamin Hall, the Commissioner of Works when the bell was hung in 1859, or to Ben Caunt, a prize-fighter who was particularly popular at the time. Kind of like a quarterback controversy I guess. But, here in London I’ve tried to put my sports thoughts on hold a bit (can’t totally do that with the World Series going on–you can watch it here thank goodness). You know what I mean though. Just a few hours on the streets where I can concentrate on the history and culture of a country I have never visited. I saw Buckingham Palace, the Jewel Tower and the Houses of Parliament. Saw guards on horses in front of the Treasury. Walked along the Victoria Embankment and viewed the London Eye. Eating fish and chips was a nice local treat. And I was intrigued by the statue of Oliver Cromwell, which has a controversial history. I found out that Irish MPs objected to the building of the statue because of Cromwell’s ruthless reputation during his conquest of Ireland. English MPs were in agreement, on the grounds that Cromwell had orchestrated the trial and execution of Charles I. In the end, Prime Minister Lord Roseberry funded the statue himself. Kind of like a stadium being funded privately rather than publicly. Well, not quite the same. There I go again with a sports reference. Actually, that’s the point I want to make about my experience here. As much as I thought I was getting away from sports, and American culture, it was surrounding me. McDonalds and Burger King are ubiquitous. Hot Dogs are readily available. Everywhere I turned it seemed like someone was wearing a Frank Gore jersey. I understand that of course there are plenty of tourists here for the game, but suddenly I didn’t want to see them. I’m in Europe. Isn’t it supposed to be completely different? Would it be good for the NFL to someday expand to London? I think it would be cool, but the travel would be a killer. Something to think about though.
Some of the information for this blog was researched from Frommer’s 24 Great Walks in London.Share