London

20130522_113435-lgeOur journey started on Wednesday 22 May 2013 – got up quite early – packed and ready to go by 7.30 am – left  at 8.00 am – to Bathgate station – bought one way tickets to Edinburgh station – went to the ticket office – asked to upgrade to first class – cost 310 GBP (forget it) – standard class is not too bad (no free food and wi-fi) – the image on the right shows some bags on the table – supplied by the café car to help you carry your stuff back to your carriage (the trains sways a bit). We went to platform 2 – I spoke to one of the train staff – he 20130522_113418-lgeput me right – our train was leaving from platform 9 – we got there with 15+ minutes to spare. The train guy took our cases and locked them in the guards van (I think he did that because Sandra is a scot). The food car is some way down (have to walk down in the cars) – the train sways – thank goodness the morning coffee and eats are placed in carry bags (the coffee is terrible).

Got into Kings Cross London okay – the station was not crowded – made our way to the guards van and picked up our cases – got some more folding money – then in a taxi to our hotel – Holiday Inn Express Greenwich. The ride took forever and after some minutes plus we got there – the fare was quite close to what I was quoted. It is cheaper to travel by underground but if you have not done it before it could be a bit daunting. Anyway I can say that I was in one of those cabs you see on TV.

We crossed London bridge on the way to the hotel. Can’t wait to walk across it.

OO318312_429longHave you ever had that feeling when you get into a new hotel that it does not seem right? Both Sandra and I had that feeling right from the time we first arrived. The long ride in the taxi and the distance out of central London did not help. The reception is on the first floor not the ground floor. The staff have difficulty with the English language. We are discovering that most of the staff are from overseas. Link – http://www.londontown.com/hotels/information/images/Holiday_Inn_Express_London_Greenwich/154709

We got a room with a double bed. There is no fridge or ironing board. They advertise that wi-fi is available but you have to pay for it. I overcame the wi-fi issue by buying a dongle in Falkirk. Our mobile phones work.  My Pennytel does not.

Had dinner the hotel. You cannot charge to your room. You have to pay by cash or card. The lady taking my order must be from Russia. She insisted that I give her the information she wanted not the way I was telling her. Sandra and I looked at each other with some amusement. The food was okay – enjoyed it as we did the bottle of wine.

 

Thursday 23 May 2013

GL732958_429longGot up at 0500 – in the shower by six and discovered that the water does not drain away – the area around the toilet and shower was awash. I was looking for the exhaust fan – found a red chord and pulled it – little did I know that it set off the alarm – you see we are in a suite that is used for persons who use a wheelchair – that chord is to alert someone that help is needed – I did not know that because there are no signs. Sandra was woken up by a phone call to tell me what I had done. A chap came up – conceded that the water would not drain away – he could not switch off the alarm – went down – came back up – found the right switch – one problem solved. They are going to put us into another room see image left).

We went down to breakfast – quite a good spread – coffee a bit better than the stuff in the room. Back up and packing ready to move.

I am writing this whilst Sandra is downstairs. I would not like to be the person at the front desk when Sandra is making a point about something. Better her than me.

We need to find a bus to take us down to the train station in Greenwich. Found someone at the front desk who pointed in the right direction for the bus (the girl on the previous night pointed the other way). Short walk – found the bus – took us directly to the North Greenwich station. Bought 2 x Oyster cards (for the week – they give us access to all public transport including access to most of what we want to visit and see [attractions] in London). Travelled on the grey line (called “jubilee”) to a station called “London Bridge” – changed to the black line (called “northern”) and exited at Kings Cross station.

We walked down to a hotel called “Arriva” – confirmed our booking – made sure we could store our luggage when we got there on Sunday this week. It is a bit of good luck that I booked for 4 nights at the Holiday Inn Express (both Sandra and I don’t like the hotel for various reasons and we would rather be in the centre of London – it is also quite pricey – 4 nights cost us over $1000 AUD).

We walked back to the Kings Cross station, walked out the Saint Pancras International terminal – checked the lay of the land for travel to Paris in 3 weeks’ time – bookings are really tight at the moment – very little room left. Checked where the London Big Bus starts from and spoke to one of their staff about what we could do. There are 3 different tours and you need to be on time to start. Once that tour ends, you just change to the next bus and go off on another tour. Change again and see all the things that make London such an attraction. We plan to get on and off as the day and mood takes us.

I wanted to see some of the City and suggested we get on a double decker (# 73) and just go where we felt the wind would take us. We ended up in North Islington.  Got off and got back on the same bus this time towards Victoria station.

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Lunch at the pub (if you look closely at MOI you can see my man bag) and then back on the #73 to Kings Cross.

Then the underground on the northern line to London Bridge – change to the jubilee line to North Greenwich – then on the bus to the Holiday Inn  Express . In by 4.00 pm and right into a cup of tea and toberlone. Dinner tonight is courtesy of the hotel (because of the problem we had with the previous room).