Herb Reisenfeld - checking inn

We recently returned from London, England, with a group of hearty Bengals fans. What were these fans doing in London? 

We went to see the Cincinnati Bengals attempt to play the Los Angeles Rams in Wembley Stadium. Decked out in full-on Bengals gear we journeyed to the outskirts of London to join 82,000-plus football fans for the game which, unfortunately, wasn’t too exciting for us as the Bengals lost … again. 

You may wonder why NFL teams are playing football in London. Well, I can tell you, the Brits and fans from other European countries are absolutely wild about the sport. As you gaze around the stadium, amidst the many Rams and Bengal fans who traveled to England for the game, you find thousands of fans from Europe wearing their favorite NFL team logo gear. These folks really know their American football as they not only are familiar with the players and rules, they also know who was drafted by what team, the player stats, etc. There are no boos or negative yells, they are truly fans of the game and excited to be a part of it – and so were we.

London is a great city – regal, clean and full of history. One of the highlights of our trip was the opportunity to visit the Churchill War Rooms and Museum. During World War II, prior to the bombing of London by the Nazis, Churchill had the vision of assembling offices underground, beneath the Internal Revenue building. The offices included a map room, command center, and sleeping quarters for he and his wife, and the full staff. The rooms are set up just as they were during the war.

The adjoining Churchill Museum is full of his history from a young man, soldier, through his years of Britain’s Prime Minister, and his close relationship with Franklin Roosevelt. We could have spent a whole day there as it is fascinating.

Other places of interest we visited included Westminster Abbey, the 700-year-old building which has been the Coronation church and the setting for many other great events in English history as well as 16 Royal weddings. In addition, it is the burial place of kings and queens and other distinguished figures including writers, musicians, politicians, scientists and a sacred Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

And, finally, Windsor, located outside of London, home to Windsor Castle which originally dates back to the ninth century when William the Conqueror developed the present site, constructing a mound with a stockade about 1070. 

In the 13th century, Henry III completed the castle and built a royal chapel which is the present-day Albert Memorial Chapel where many of the British monarchs are buried and Royal weddings take place, the latest of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. There is also a separate chapel built by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband Prince Albert.

The state apartments on grounds include the Waterloo Chamber, St. George’s Hall and the grand reception room; as well as, the royal library, which contains a priceless collection of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and other old masters. In 1992 a fire destroyed the northeast corner. Most of the paintings, furniture, and other moveable treasures were saved, but more than 100 rooms including St. George’s Hall, were destroyed or damaged. A successful renovation of the affected area was completed in 1997. 

Presently a display of the Queen Mothers Doll House is on display which is an elaborate open view of a mansion with miniature furniture and artifacts. 

Queen Elizabeth II and other Royals often spend weekends at the castle and it is still used frequently for royal receptions of various dignitaries. A visit to the town of Windsor and Windsor Castle is a must when visiting London area.

As an ironic follow-up, if October brought us to London for the football, November brought us to California for baseball. Once again, I led a large group on our 36th annual All-Star Baseball Cruise and Reunion. Our special guests included Marty Brennaman, current player Tucker Barnhart and former Reds players: Jack Billingham, Doug Flynn, Joe Oliver and Jim Maloney. 

We sailed on the Royal Princess from Los Angeles to San Francisco where most of our 110 guests visited the infamous Alcatraz prison, Muir Woods, Sausalito and Pier 39. Our next stop was Monterey and the highlights included the 17-mile drive along the coast, visiting the Pebble Beach Golf Club, and the world-renowned Monterey Aquarium. Of course, delicious seafood was in abundance on Old Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Our next port of call was San Diego, the beautiful city boasting a fantastic zoo; historical Old Town; as well as, the renowned Del Coronado Hotel, one of the last wooden structure world-class hotels where the movie “Some Like It Hot” was filmed, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. 

A short stop was made in Ensenada, Mexico, before returning back to Los Angeles and the end of our seven-day cruise adventure. Along the way, our guests had many opportunities to meet and mingle with our special guest players, attending our private parties, and a special question and answer seminar which was open to all interested ship guests. 

It hardly seems possible that I have been doing these cruises every fall for the past 36 years and we are already looking forward to next year when we cruise to New England and Canada. Even those who aren’t great baseball fans enjoy the fun we have, as well as the ships and ports of call. We call it a reunion because so many make this an annual vacation. It’s like seeing your favorite friends year after year.

Whether celebrating the gridirons or the sandlots, these themed sports trips hold a unique place among my years of travel. Joining together to celebrate the love of the game, cheering on our teams (win or lose) and, even better, creating amazing memories together, is beyond a pleasure. 

Next month I will write about my annual New York City Show Tour which takes place in early December.

If you have any travel questions for Herb Reisenfeld, The American Israelite’s travel columnist, please send them to travel@americanisraelite.com.

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