I take pride in no longer considering myself a London tourist, having lived in London now for two-and-a-half months. While I enjoy being thought of more as a local, there are still activities that one may find in any Rough Guide to London or London for Dummies that I absolutely love experiencing. I have done tea at Harrods three times already.
This Saturday, March 26, was the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. The tradition started on March 12, 1829 when two friends, one attending Oxford, the other Cambridge, decided to have a rowing race. Cambridge first challenged Oxford and a tradition developed where the loser of the previous year’s race challenges the opposition to a re-match. Therefore, 157 years later, the race has become a major international sporting event. It is said to draw an estimated 250,000 spectators each year.
The two universities race along the Thames, beginning in Putney and ending in Mortlake. While it would have been amazing to be at the finish line, my friends and I watched from “round the bend” on the Hammersmith Bridge as the two teams came around a bend in the course along the Thames. The amount of people in attendance was incredible. There were rowing enthusiasts, tourist, alumni, current students, and families all cheering on the two teams in blue as they rowed neck-in-neck to the finish line.
After the two teams raced by us with a fleet of boats surrounding them, we all looked at each other and said…that is it? It was awesome to be in a crowd of strangers cheering their teams on and having a great time. It's also nice to experience something that is such a big part of British culture, but the whole thing happened so quickly and had so much hype that I think we all expected something more. It was definitely an experience that I am glad I encountered, but I’ll take the Harvard-Yale Boat Race over Oxford-Cambridge any day.
P.S. Cambridge holds the lead for most Wins, 80-75, but this year Oxford was victorious.