From London to Paris, what an adventure

At Wimbledon, Randy with you-know-who

RANDY AND CHRISTINE DEL VALLE spent 3 ½ weeks in Europe last June and July. Twice, they watched the world’s most revered tennis event, Wimbledon. Andy Roddick. James Blake. Venus Williams. They gazed at them. They ate strawberries and cream and sat on the All-England Club grass.

They saw Roger Federer! They did? Well, here’s the story: Among the hundreds of pros, Randy’s favorite is the Swiss. And on the two days that he and Christine watched Wimbledon, they longed to see his idol. But it wasn’t to be. He could not get tickets to the Centre Court.

“There was this booth near the bus stop leading to Wimbledon,” said Randy. “Dozens of people lined up and photos were taken. So, we were curious. When we drew near, we saw him… Federer!”

“But it wasn’t him,” said Randy, laughing. “It was a look-alike. He had a headband on, wore Nike, and looked just like Roger. All the TV cameras were pointing to him as he were the one. Plenty of people lined up for a photo-shoot with ‘Roger’… including me!”

The Fake Roger and Wimbledon weren’t the only sights the del Valles saw. On July 7, the Tour de France started the first race (“Prologue,” it’s called) in London—and Randy and Christine were there. Though they didn’t catch Alberto Contador (the eventual champion) or the Discovery Channel cycling team, they saw all the banners and festivities surrounding “Le Tour.”

Randy and Christine also watched “Les Miserables” at London’s West End. Would you believe, the very next day, on CNN and all over the TV networks, the Mercedes car bomb with 60 liters of petrol, gas cylinders and nails was found—at the same spot Randy and Christine were at less than 24 hours earlier.

Here’s one more: The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, remember he resigned last June 27? Again, as fate would have them watch so many events during their trip, Randy and Christine were in London. They saw the helicopter that circled the sky, carrying Tony Blair from his 10 Downing Street home to the Buckingham Palace.

That’s not all. After 22 days in London, the del Valles flew to Paris, France. They viewed the “City of Lights” from the top of the Eiffel Tower. They heard mass at the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur. Strolled along one of the world’s most famous roads, the Champs-Elysees. Marveled at the sight of the Arc de Triomphe, Moulin Rogue, and the Notre Dame. And, while inside the Louvre Musuem, Randy took photos (stolen photos, since it’s not allowed) of the Mona Lisa. He even included a London visit at the world headquarters of the oil giant Shell (where Randy is one of the top honchos here, as Retail District Manager for Visayas).

Randy, Christine and their son Luigi fronting the Louvre

Nortre Dame

And, of course, the Eiffel Tower

Randy and Christine were also in Paris during the date 7/7/7. Apart from that date being historic, the excitement around the city was the wedding of Tony Parker and Eva Longoria. Though they never got to see the couple (no one did), it was enough to just be there amidst all the Hollywood buzz.

But the one place Randy spoke the most passionate about? And a venue that’s not even in most of the usual tourist destination spots?

Roland Garros. Ever the tennis fanatic, Randy and Christine arrived at the site of the French Open a 12:30 p.m. There was a small tournament being played on the side courts. They entered the venue’s main court—Court Phillipe Chatrier—and saw that it was under renovation.

“My dream was really to watch both the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back,” said Randy. “Since the two events were only separated by two weeks, that’s what I first wanted. But our schedule wouldn’t allow it. So after Wimbledon, I decided to visit Roland Garros—never mind if it was after the French Open.”

Randy at Roland Garros

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