Wednesday, June 13, 2012

[Tourist] Day 30: Going to See the Queen: England, Day 1

This is neither here nor there but the England posts might be a bit on the short side. I found I took far less notes, possibly because I had friends to talk to the entire time I was there. Back to the trip report. I checked out of the hotel pretty early - maybe 7:30 or so. My train wasn't until 10:30 but I thought I might be able to switch to an earlier one. On check out I asked for a cab while I grabbed a croissant (yeah, yeah, I made sure they had more than one left). The cab took about fifteen minutes to arrive, but then it got me to Gare Du Nord in no more than another five so I was still really, really early.
This is what a train station should look like
Eventually I figured out what ticket office to go to. The gentleman was nice but apologetic in telling me that my ticket was not changeable. That meant I had at least 100 minutes until check in. Thankfully this was a train station in Paris so I could just go get a diet Coke and some breakfast and sit there for an hour-and-a-half reading my iPad without any questioning it.

Boarding wasn't too bad, although luggage racks were in short supply.

This is still six inches more legroom than you get on Spirit Airlines...then again the womb has more legroom than Spirit
The Eurostar from Paris to London had some decent sites along the way - lots of picturesque French countryside. Basically from the time I got to the train station until I reached London was the best time I had in Paris. Not the best sign, right?
Even better than in-flight entertainment: reflected laptop TV thanks to the Chunnel. Except it was Keeping up the Kardashians. So much for superb French taste.

I had planned on meeting my friend Phil, who had been in London the night before for a Coldplay concert (try not to judge), at St. Pancras station. We had settled on meeting outside Europe's longest champagne bar, figuring that would be iconic. We found each other quite easily, though we then spent another 30 minutes looking for somewhere to stash my massive luggage whilst we spent the day in London.
There's some sort of event happening in London this summer. Can't for the life of me think what it is.
We headed next door to Kings Cross and dropped the luggage off at "left luggage". We then hopped on the Tube, marking my fourth public transportation system in as many days.
I should have thought "whoa - cool, Harry Potter!" but instead I thought "39/4ths right?"
I've been to England before but still have managed to avoid doing anything touristy in London. Phil took me to one of his favorite restaurants for lunch and it was absolutely fabulous. One of the top meals on the trip.

Keep smiling. You're gonna ruin my day!

This was both healthy and delicious

Traditional, or so I'm told

I said it at the time and totally meant it: this was the best piece of cooked fish I've ever had. Pollock, I believe.

Passion fruit has quickly become one of my favorite foods, all in the last week since the Asiana FCL

This is when I remembered that I was supposed to say "tap water" and not "still water". Whoops!
The plan afterward was quite simple. Phil and I met in Florida at an English pub over our shared love of Arsenal FC. Phil had hoped to take me on a tour of Arsenal's stadium, but the tour was closed for the day. Still we wandered over to the Emirates and I took a bunch of photos.
Reading Neverwhere right before coming to London means everything looks wrong

Get used to lots of Arsenal stuff for the next

You want me to say something here, don't you? Just enjoy the Famous Cock, will ya?


The place was completely and utterly empty due to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, which involved a massive flotilla down the Thames. Everyone in London must have been there. Turns out the Arsenal Museum was still open, even though the security guard said it was the slowest day he could ever remember:

Here's the reason I'm an Arsenal fan. Dreamy!

Arsene Knows
By this point we needed to make a mad dash from the Emirates to Waterloo station to catch a train to Dorset. Phil was a bit worried about what the station would look like given all of the people who'd come into London for the water parade who'd want to go home that night. He needn't have worried, no. Rather he should have been completely and utterly fucking scared. Because I don't think either of us were quite prepared for it.

We got to Waterloo 20 minutes before the train was scheduled to leave. Phil's done this journey hundreds of times and never had a problem getting a seat. We were just fortunate to get a standing-room spot as a minute or two after we boarded they ceased all boarding and the hundreds left on the platform had to wait for another train an hour later.

They weren't even the worst off, as the first stop is just a few minutes later and the hundreds of people waiting there were destined to not get a spot on a train for the entire night. 1.5 million people came into London that night and every one wanted to go home to Dorset apparently.

Aren't you glad you used Dial? Don't you wish everyone did? Alternate caption: Aren't you glad this isn't a train in Paris? 

I see you all sitting there, trying not to make eye contact with those of us standing. I'm judging each and every fit young man sitting down right now who hasn't offered their chair to someone who needs it.

I took it all in good cheer and considered it an adventure. 90 minutes later we got off in Salisbury and headed to Phil's place.


This was in honor of the Jubilee. I love that someone appears to have added the "er" after cheap
On the way we stopped at a pub for dinner. This was yet another of the many fabulous meals I had in England.

Whoever said English cuisine was boring and bland is years behind the times

I turned in rather early, excited to once again be in England.

No comments:

Post a Comment