First adventure done and dusted. Whew! If it was iconic in London, we tried to see it or do it!
I’ve learned many valuable lessons this weekend.
1. Don’t drive through London on a week day.
2. Don’t make a move toward a seat on the tube when the train takes off.
3. Don’t think that the tubes are a reliable source to get from point A to point B. Always have a backup plan.
Let me elaborate.
Driving in England isn’t a relaxing task. I will never want to go for “a Sunday drive” just for the hell of it. BUT, for an American, having a car just seems a necessity–so I’ve rented one for my entire stay.
When trying to decide how to get to London for the weekend, my practicle self said, “Take the train! It will be so much easier and faster!” But the American in me said, “Drive! How hard can it be? AND you won’t have to carry your luggage…” Practicality should have won…
Going up the motorway was a snap. The Garmin satnav I bought was moving us right along…right along for a butt clenching adventure through the streets of East End of London, Westminster and straight into Wembley! Being wedged between double decker buses and iconic black taxi cabs, with scooters making imaginary lanes by squeezing in between and Friday morning traffic, was something I will never forget and NEVER want to do again! A trip, that should have taken 1 hour and 58 minutes, took 4 hours. My abs got a killer work out…I was so tense! But, we made it to our hotel in Wembly and got one of the covetted 39 parking spaces on site. SCORE! But, DON’T DRIVE IN LONDON ON A WEEK DAY.
When you are the tour guide for a friend who is taking her first trip abroad, there is a lot of pressure (mostly self inflicted) to make sure she gets a good taste of what London has to offer. Step One- the tube. It is always a relief, for me anyway, to remember how to navigate the London Underground. I guess it’s like riding a bike…it comes back to you. We traveled west to east, north to south, popping up above ground and diving back under with the best of them all weekend! In my mind, I was looking like a native…until a fatal mishap. It was a rookie mistake.
It was Sunday morning, not too crowded thank goodness, and we got on the tube to begin our day’s treck into central London. There were 2 seats available, but a man sitting in the middle, was seperating them. He graciously moved so that they were now side by side and we happily made a move toward the seat. As I moved forward to get to the seat, I began to lean in to sit. Fate was bored , I guess, and needed a laugh, so the train lurched forward just as I leaned in and instead of cooling sliding into the seat, I was propelled–FACE FIRST–right into the lap of the gentleman who moved…I was grasping desperately at anything to keep from falling all the way down…it was his upper thigh that was the only thing I could find…so I gripped it with all my might. I caught a quick glance of this gentleman’s face…I’ll let you come up with your own visual…it will be funnier I’m sure. After I gracfully recovered…NOT…I quickly turned to this man, extended my hand and said, “Hi! Nice to meet you!” The passengers all had a good laugh at my expense… As he was getting off at the next stop, he turned back to me and said, ” Enjoyed our time together today.” I made the phone sign with my thumb and pinky and said, “Call me!” I haven’t laughed so hard in such a long time! DON’T MAKE A MOVE TOWARD A SEAT ON THE TUBE WHEN THE TRAIN TAKES OFF.
This weekend, we visited the Princess Diana dress exhibition, had a cream tea at Harrods, shopped at the Camden Market, went to Chinatown and ate a French restaurant, went to a Taylor Swift concert at Wembley Stadium, took a ride in a cab, a double decker bus, and a water taxi down the Thames. We walked around the palace, Picadilly Circus, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the South Bank. We saw every major site the city has to offer. I don’t think we could have packed in anything else. Give me my blue badge (tour guide)!
Although I was dreading the drive back to Canterbury, around 4, we hopped the tube to get back to the hotel to pick up the car and maneuver our way back to Canterbury. We started on the District line at Tower Hill to South Kensington to pick up the Piccadilly line to our stop. Well…the Piccadilly line was not running because of signal failure on the line. They suggested we take the bus….hahahahaha! Sure. I feel confident about getting around in the underground labyrinth known as the tube…get me above ground and I’m worthless. What a conundrum! Had no idea how long it was going to take to get back up and running and it was almost 5 with at least a 2 hour drive ahead ( if we could find a route around the city)….so I did what every American city dweller does….I called an Uber. Done and sorted. DON’T THINK THE TUBES ARE A RELIABLE SOURCE TO GET FROM POINT A TO POINT B. ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP PLAN.
My lessons all have to do with transportation….funny. Here are some snap shots of our weekend.