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Road Games Travel Tips: A royal experience

Week 6: Seattle vs. Oakland in London, Oct. 14, 2018, 10 a.m. Pacific

SPONSORED – Can you catch a second wind at 7 a.m.?

Sure you can. If you’ve just arrived in London after an overnight flight and you’re going to meet your wife for a weekend abroad.

Yes, that’s just as outrageous as it sounds, but we did exactly that in October 2014 and the picture that Sharon Pian Chan and I took aboard the London Eye during that whirlwind weekend is one of my favorites because of just how big and dorky my smile was.

I’ll have to explain a little bit. See, my wife and I had set a goal of flying 100,000 miles apiece in a single calendar year. It was kind of impulsive and not altogether sensible. It’s the kind of indulgent thing you do when you decide not to have children, and it resulted in a pretty darn fantastic year because we wound up doing so darn much.

I went to Kentucky and toured three different bourbon distilleries. I visited the Louisville Slugger factory. We went to North Carolina, where barbecue means pork, and we also went to Texas, where barbecue translates to beef.

And we spent one tremendous Saturday afternoon bopping around London from the Eye to lunch at Sky Garden to the proper wet shave I received that afternoon. I felt like an old-time boss, getting lathered up and shaved with a straight razor, and it was better than any nap I’ve ever taken. I felt like a crisp $5 bill. Wait. No, I was like an English 10 Pound note!

Four years later, I’ve still got a pair of shoes that I bought that weekend. They’re a pair of brogues from Grenson’s, a company that’s only been making shoes for 150 years.

On Sunday, I went to a football match, which is to say a soccer game as Queens Park Rangers were visiting West Ham in a wonderfully dodgy neighborhood of East London. I sat with the visitors, and learned that American football fans have nothing on the Brits when it comes to lager consumption.

London is an incredible city from its history to the incredible diversity to the underground public-transportation that will get you anywhere you need to go.

Arrival: British Airways is an Alaska Airlines partner, and it has two daily non-stop flights from Sea-Tac (SEA) to London’s Heathrow (LHR), which is Europe’s busiest airport. It’s 15 miles west of central London and easily accessible by train, the Underground or any number of other methods.

Stadium: Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium in North London is opening this year, and will be the dedicated home for NFL games in the UK. It seats more than 62,000 and has nine floors. It’s seating capacity is double Tottenham’s previous home, White Hart Lane.

Last time here: Never. Seattle has played in Japan before (preseason 1989). Seattle has played in Vancouver, B.C. (preseason 1998). Seattle has played in Toronto, too (regular season 2012). Never London, though.

Dining: I haven’t been to London often enough to provide better recommendations than you can get from a guide book or – better yet – a concierge. I can tell you that English cuisine is made into the butt of many jokes, but it’s simply not accurate in my experience. Gastropubs can be found across every neighborhood, as unpretentious as they are delicious.