On my husband’s birthday, we took the train from Paris to London. It was a relaxing, wonderful ride. We were able to see the lovely countryside of France and England. We agreed that the scenery was reminiscent of the New England area in North America. We enjoyed a delicious (cold) lunch served along the way. Our fellow passengers and the staff of the EuroStar were delightful.
The St. Pancreas Station was a cross between a train station and a shopping mall extraordinaire. The bustle of shoppers, along with those trying to reach their destinations, and tourists such as ourselves, made for an exciting arrival. We found our way to the Taxi stand and the cabbie knew the Circle Apartments, which we’d rented on VRBO.
We were giddy with anticipation of beginning the relaxing portion of our trip. We would stay at the apartment for three nights and four days. Certain our luggage waited for us, we didn’t even engage in the conversational topic of ‘what if’.
Well, we should have, because it hadn’t arrived.
The concierge, while sympathetic to our situation, could offer nothing but shrugged shoulders. He worked for a private residence apartment complex. Not a Hilton. While renting a local apartment can provide home-like accommodations for less than the average hotel room, you are a resident with no professional travel support.
In other words, we are on our own.
Fortunately, the phone issue had been resolved during our whirlwind in Paris. I would offer one piece of advice should you find yourself in a similar situation.
“Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?” I had done a hard reboot, but I was underground traveling the subway system at the time. I should have waited to be topside, and tried again. Okay, my fault on that one.
With working phone in hand, I called the airline. Several times. I’ll not bore you with all of the rigmarole that transpired, but sum up instead to let you know that for two days we spent more time on the phone and suffered the frustrations of insurance BS, rather than exploring this very cool city.
That’s not to say that we didn’t get out. The Tower Bridge, currently under construction and only allowng foot traffic, is within walking distance. And taxis are plentiful. Downtown London is comparable to Manhattan. It’s not truly meant for tourists, but it was the closest place to locate a department store for purchasing “necessaries” if you understand my meaning.
Sightseeing and shopping. Isn’t that what tourists are supposed to do?
We got into the spirit of the seeing the city on these ventures out. Having purchased a three day London Pass before leaving the states, we got on one of the buses and rode the entire circuit, sitting in the back so as not to subject our clothes aroma to our fellow travelers.
What a fascinating place London is. While Paris took my breath away in her beauty, London has a more masculine feel to it. Handsome, and impressive. Like someone who has suffered much, knocked to the knees, bloodied and beaten, then finds their feet, rises tall with shoulders back, and dares the next blow.
Handsome, and impressive.
The lost luggage is forgotten while caught up in the wonder of London. We noted several places we want to visit on the next day’s travel on the tour bus. And, the three hour tour was not without its own excitement.
We’d also noted how closely the cars drove to one another, and marveled at how there were no backups due to accidents. Cars, trucks, bikes, and the ubiquitous buses, all converging from a six lane to two lane road at times, seemed a ballet.
Until it wasn’t.
From our vantage at the back of the bus we couldn’t see our driver. But, we did see the black Mercedes that sideswiped the bus, crunching the car’s passenger side door and mirror. The well-dressed man in the Mercedes was livid. He harangued our tour bus driver, who responded civilly at first, explaining it was not his fault and that the entire incident was captured on CCTV. The discussion escalated, and after a testosterone fueled exchange, the two vehicles drove to our next stop and exchanged information and insults.
Ah, London. Did you do this just for us? Just to make us feel more at home? You shouldn’t have!
We had arrived in London on Tuesday afternoon. Dart’s wish of waking up in Paris and going to sleep in London on his 60th birthday has been fulfilled. It’s not my fault he didn’t ask for clean clothes, too.
The suitcase arrived at our apartment on Wednesday night. I admit. I cried a little at the reunion.
We are so looking forward to a full day in London on Thursday, uninterrupted by glitches and stumbling blocks.
A girl can hope, right?
In case you wondered, Sam McShane is going to Ireland with us. We’ll be heading there on Friday. Here’s hoping our luggage comes along, too.