Todd Graffagnini, a digital contributor for the New Orleans Saints, is a walker. You can find Graff pounding the pavement somewhere around New Orleans almost every day. As the Saints head overseas for the week, fans can join Graff as he explores new routes and takes in the sights of London ahead of gameday.
Hello everyone, and greetings from jolly old London, England. If you are reading this, chances are you know my affinity for travel, and especially exploring the various paths and streets of the cities I am fortunate enough to be in. Well, since your New Orleans Saints happen to be playing an NFL game at Tottenham Stadium on Sunday, and since I am covering the team during the trip, might as well cover all the bases and revive the Walks with Graff series that originated during the Covid spring of 2020.
This journey, thanks to the six-hour time difference from London to New Orleans and some jet lag due to an early sleep the previous night, started at approximately 6:30 a.m. London time Tuesday, so after midnight back home. I am staying at the media hotel not far from central London, and I was pretty excited knowing I could hit some great spots that are relatively close in a short amount of time. After a little recon the night before, I had my route set and off I went on a pretty good clip, helped greatly by the brisk low 50s temperatures that greeted me when I stepped outside into the still dimly lit morning.
I headed out the hotel and took a left turn onto Edgeware Road and headed southeast, a main thoroughfare in what is called the Paddington section of London. After about a quarter-mile one of the city's great landmarks is right there in front of you. The Marble Arch, which was designed to be a state entrance to still being constructed Buckingham Palace courtyard dating to 1837, was relocated to its current site in 1851. Now it's a pseudo entrance to gigantic Hyde Park, which is in central London, and has various walking, cycling and even horse riding paths surrounding and dividing it. Walking around the Marble Arch, I headed for the walking path on the east side of Hyde Park and parallel with another famous street in London, Park Lane. As I approached the southeast corner of the Park, that's when it started to get a bit surreal that I was actually there. Of course, unless you've been in a dark cave the last three weeks, pretty much everyone on the planet is aware of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8 after 70 years on the throne, the subsequent mourning period and ultimately the state funeral which spanned 10 days and culminated Sept. 19. As I took a slight turn to the left, I was taken back to what I witnessed on television just a week ago, except this time I was actually tracing the steps and routes of the royal family dating back to the late 1800s