As any other Arsenal fan from abroad, visiting London and watching Arsenal play was on the top of my bucket list.
During my teenage and student years, this was all only a dream and something that made me study and focus on work more, so I could afford it when I grew up. I couldn’t imagine asking my parents to pay for a trip like that, so it had to wait until I had a proper job and I could save up for it.
The dream came true in May 2017, 11 years after I started following Arsenal in Croatia.
1Grab a cup of coffee, this will be a long post…
It was some time in November 2016 when it was announced that low-budget airline Monarch would start flying directly from Zagreb to London in April 2017. Zagreb, as the main airport in Croatia, didn’t have many low-budget flights (if any even, I’m not sure), so this was massive news for yours truly. The return flights to London from Zagreb were way out of our (boyfriend’s and mine) price range even when we got good jobs, so naturally my heart started beating faster as soon as I saw we can actually afford a trip like that without starving.
In early December, we pressed that final button after days of discussing it. Two return flights to London were booked for first weekend of May – to see the match between Arsenal and Manchester United.
Another match wasn’t really an option since, as you probably know, my boyfriend is a United fan and I wouldn’t like to go without him on such a big adventure. Six sweet months of expectation began.
In those months, we experienced something that was a leitmotif of the whole trip, and that’s the kindness of our friends and the people we met. We got so many great tips from our friends both online and “offline”. Nikola’s childhood friend, Marija, was renting an Air BnB in London so she helped us out with a discount and a warm place to stay in a strange town amongside a familiar face.
Croatian football fans I met on Twitter helped us out with two tickets in the Clock End, front row. They sorted it all out, we just had to pick them up and get in. We couldn’t have be more grateful and will probably never be able to pay that off. Thank you Julian, Dinko and Ivan, and their English friends Gary and Daniel 🙂
The weeks were going slowly and, despite all the bad things happening with Arsenal, I was still very excited and couldn’t wait to finally see London and my Arsenal. The last week of April was especially hard to survive, as it all was so close but I had to focus on work and packing and planning!