Cliffs – London
CARDIFF – the capital of Wales
There will be nothing about Cardiff, on my part, as I stayed in bed for the whole tour so that I could roll out of bed in a nasty state for the competition the next day, assuring everyone that it was not COVID but the usual Polish flu (so much fun…). But… but read the text below prepared by coach Mateusz Rojowski!
LONDON – the capital of England
One day in London is like pouring yourself a coffee and not brewing it… Its scent, however, bodes all the best! 😉
But, well, it’s better than nothing.
The aim was not so much to visit London but to encourage members of the Polish Taekwon-do Federation to visit London. It takes, at a leisurely pace, about 10 days to explore London… hmmm… unless you sit down in one of the hundreds (more ?) of atmospheric pubs 😉
This time, the tour plan for London was entrusted to a guide – and the project was laid out poorly, to put it mildly. However, this is a separate topic.
In London, our large group was split into 3 – to make it safer and more efficient for the one-day sprint.
We rode, rode and rode (metro, train, train again) until we finally started at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – the stadium of one of the Premier League clubs, Tottenham Hotspur FC. It opened on 3/04/2019 – impressing with its modern architecture and 21st-century technological solutions. The construction cost a mere 1 billion British pounds! Sixty-two thousand spectators enter the venue. A mini amphitheatre in the club’s gadget shop shows historical and current events from the club’s activities on a large screen (very interesting).
In the city centre we saw:
- Piccadilly Circus, the heart of the theatrical and partying West End with its famous illuminated advertisements that we often see as a backdrop to journalistic coverage
- Buckingham Palace with the royal banner flying, signifying the presence of Queen Elizabeth II at the palace (a rare occurrence)
- Big Ben (common name Elizabeth Tower)
- Westminster Abbey
- London Eye
- Downing Street, the home of the British Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer
- ‘A million’ squirrels and pelicans in St. St James’s Park, next to the Royal Palace, the park is listed as an English Heritage site.
- The Mall – the representative avenue running up to Buckingham Palace – is red, reminiscent of a massive red carpet. During the ceremony, the tract is decorated with monumental British flags – we had the opportunity to see this as Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations were beginning a few days after our visit.
- London Underground with 12 lines that serve 3.7 million passengers a day (which is why we split into 3 groups). 55% of the metro is not underground, and the lowest point lies as much as 69 metres below ground level. During World War II, the ‘Underground’ was one big shelter for Londoners…
- Leicester Square (also West End), the famous square where we relaxed a bit… It is a top-rated destination for the world of film and culture. It was here that the world premieres of films including Harry Potter, James Bond, Shrek and Avatar took place. In the square (in the park), there are many statues of famous English figures, including Isaac Newton, but our kids mostly hugged Charlie Chaplin on the bench – physics and dynamics principles be damned…😉 The pavement also shows the distances to the countries of the former British Empire… There is power HERE!
Well… this time sailing from Calais to Dover, we planned the ferry hour more carefully while viewing the phenomenal white cliffs, which are about 350 feet high, during the day (albeit in the rain)…. Bingo!
Welsh International TAGB/TI Cardiff 2022
1,200 competitors, 21 mats and 5 hours of world-class competition!!!
Many of us have not yet attended such a well-run tournament – the setting and professionalism were of the highest standard. Being there, I remembered when we were at the Birmingham Arena five years ago, where we also fought TAGB fighters. The role of coach rather than player this time proved to be more challenging for me than I expected…
Competitors from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and, of course, Poland showed mastery and passion for Taekwon-do taking the sporting rivalry to an incredibly high level. There was a considerable excitement for the competitors, but also for me, during the TAG team fights. My modest suggestion for the future would be to transfer such a rivalry to Polish sports arenas…
Having the opportunity to join the WORLD CULTURE section with TAEKWON-DO (the only one in Poland, and maybe in the world!) I have to thank all the coaches who took care of their ( and not only their ) players during the tournament. As you know, I took a ‘small group’ with me, where without your selfless help, with such an extreme pace of the tournament, I would not have been able to accommodate them all and take care of everything. Thank you!
Master Gianni Peros – thank you for training at your facility and the opportunity to get into shape before the tournament. After such a long journey, relaxation training feels incredible!!! I missed that five years ago…
Congratulations are also due to our talented athletes – your fights from a coach’s perspective were very exciting for me, and the successes were worthy!!!
In addition to sporting successes, there were also ‘traveller successes’. After all, in the name of the Foundation, we have ‘Learn the World with Taekwon-do!’. Well, we learned – and it won’t be the last time, because this aspect of our trips is just as important as the sporting aspect.
The first point of our journey was the ferry crossing from Calais in France to Dover in England. Many of us took a ferry on the high seas for the first time. This time we hit the mark, the giant 100m-plus white cliffs known as the ‘Gateway to England’ in the morning impressed more than just me. The historical aspect of the site is also essential – it was, among other things, over these white cliffs that the fierce battles of pilots from all over the world were fought in the Battle of Britain during the Second World War.
We stayed overnight at the Future Inn Cardiff Bay Hotel, seemingly a standard 3-star hotel but with impeccable service, clean, well-kept with delicious food. Future’s staff is very, very friendly and understanding! I even managed to wash and dry my dobok the day before the competition, which I thought was impossible…;-)
During my stay and tour of Cardiff, the most amazing thing, at least in my opinion, was the 11th-century Norman Cardiff Castle, which took more than 900 years to build. It, therefore, bears the hallmarks of many architectural styles. It is interesting to note that it was built on the ruins of a Roman fort dating from 150 AD.
An exciting venue was the contemporary Wales Millennium Centre – or arts centre. During the tour of Cardiff, our competitors also saw: Pierhead – the exhibition centre, Callaghan Square – a square with fountains, The Great Western Building, Mermaid Quay – the entertainment and shopping district by the bay, the Giant Ferris Wheel, and Tiger Bay – which was until recently one of the largest ports in the world.
Cardiff is the beautiful capital of Wales, with beautifully maintained historical monuments.
On the way back, we went through the Eurotunnel, which is also astounding. It was clear what the crossing was like; after all, I was crossing the Eurotunnel for the 4th time. However, some of the team were convinced that we would be going through the traditional ‘underground tunnel’ under the English Channel, and here suddenly the bus entered a special train…
On our return, we could breathe easy and say that we had finally returned to normality. This was the first international tournament in the COVID era that we completed.
Journeys with the Polish Taekwon-do Federation are not only sports-related but, above all, they educate and teach. In short, they are a feast for all the senses. This is why I am keen to participate in all international PFT projects, which I also encourage our trainees and coaches to do.