Sunday, 26 May 2013
Had a sleepless night – restless legs again! We are moving out of the Holiday Inn Express in Greenwich to the Arriva Hotel in Camden near St Pancras station. Check out time is 12 noon so we have lots of time for breakfast, pack, call a taxi (yes it is a better option than trying to move your cases on a bus and then on 2 underground trains not to mention all those stairs).
Will visit the Laundromat today as well to get some washing done.
Reflections on holidaying in London.
First of all do your research and find a hotel with a reasonable price per night and that has recent good reviews and is also close to the centre of the city. Then get an Oyster pass for transport (30 GBP per week). If you want to see things either pay the entry fee or buy a London Pass (100 GBP each) – only good for 6 consecutive days. Get to know how the underground works – it is very good and incredibly fast. Then get to know how the buses work. What is really useful is this website – http://www.rome2rio.com/ – recommended by Brian Martin – as long as you have a reasonably exact address then you can get a lot of really useful information. Food is reasonably inexpensive and you get a lot of it for your money – the Brits like chips with everything. Use a credit card whenever you can and carry cash money in the region of 200GBP for those other things that crop up. You don’t need a heavy raincoat if you are wearing a light pullover. So go get one of those travel raincoats that are light have a hoodie and keep off the showers and has lots of pockets. Absolutely vital you have access to a laptop and to a voip service like Skype. You cannot just rely on a phone to check things out. You end up spending a lot of time on the internet looking for the best deals – it is worth it in the long run, especially for accommodation. Paying online is cheaper than paying in person. Skype is best of the VoIP services. My Pennytel drifts in and out, but Skype is constant.
The taxi ride cost 35 GBP from Greenwich to Camden, London. Not too bad. The driver was very good.
Left luggage at the Arriva Hotel and went off to St Pancras station. Bought 2 x London newspapers, found some seating and settled down to a good read and wait for 2.00 pm check-in time. There is very little seating for passengers at St Pancras and a lot of people either stood and waited for their train or sat on the floor. The only other option was to sit at one of the tables of the many eating places available. I think that is incumbent on St Pancras station to look at seating as it is clearly insufficient. There are lots of people just standing and looking at the boards waiting for an announcement regarding their train. Quite often they are afraid to leave because the time to board is generally 20 minutes (that is also insufficient). I think that Sandra and I read 2 papers cover to cover and did not leave our seat in case someone else sat down because it was vacant.
At around 1.00 pm we decided to have a bite to eat – found this pub called “O’Neills” – ordered Merlot and a mixed grill. You can see from the images that moi dined on sweeties and Sandra enjoyed the same as well. Great pub with food that was enjoyable. I am reasonably sure that the sweets were courtesy of the pub (something to do with the cleanliness of the glasses provided).
I don’t know what happened but when I got back to the Arriva Hotel I got a very bad case of (guess). Sandra went out and bought coke, water, plain biscuits and gave me some Imodium tablets. The Arriva is a 2 star hotel and is a bit down market. We are here for 2 nights. I have booked in at the Carlton Hotel (3 star) for another 3 nights.
Monday 27 May 2013
Phoned the Bank of Queensland, Mandurah branch with my cash passport problem. The BOQ lass was very good and managed to get through to someone. She also kept me informed through emails.
Breakfast at the Arriva was continental – cosy – I liked it. Very small room and there were people queuing for a table.
Then to Westminster station by underground – 2 train journeys – Northern line and Jubilee line. After we exited the station at Westminster we discovered there was a marathon and the effect of that was to prevent us from getting across to see Westminster Abbey.
I thought our best option was to go back to Waterloo station and walk via York Street across Westminster Bridge to the Abbey. We got there 1.5 hours after originally arriving at Westminster station.
Westminster Abbey is really a marvel (they don’t allow the taking of pictures). We had an audio assist (Jeremy Irons was the commentator) – very good and had to use a map of the Abbey to understand everything.
Went looking for a pub to have lunch – very long walk that took us along Victoria embankment, across Hungerford Bridge, passed London Eye (the queues were just too long to even think about getting on) and crossed over on Westminster bridge and back to Westminster station. Result – no pub!
Took the underground to Kings Cross – St Pancras and went to O’Neill’s for a 4.00 pm lunch. Ordered a Zinfandel rose wine from California. Thankfully no problems this time!
Tuesday 28 May 2013
Phone call from MCP 6.30am – solved the problem.
At breakfast at the Arriva Hotel we shared a table with a lass from Holland who travelled to London (she does this a lot) to see a show and take in the sights.
Packed and moved to the Carlton Hotel this morning. Left bags and went off to see Churchill’s War Museum in Westminster. Again 2 trains on the Northern and jubilee lines.
Lots of rain this morning.
In trying to find the War Museum I found a pub called the “Red Lion” very close to the Westminster station – went in and asked for directions – short walk to the museum – long queue until Sandra went over and talked to another family – they said we could get in through another entrance for London Pass holders.
More about the War Museum in travel notes 3.