(Note to the reader: the following is a lovely, harrowing tale, but do not be deceived by the unusual title. It’s probably not what you think.)
Our tale begins in London… actually, at the end of our London visit. We stayed in a Premier Inn located near County Hall. (Nice location, but Worst WiFi Ever.) We wanted to get to Saint Pancras train station, so we could pick up the shuttle to London Luton Airport to take a flight to Paris. We wanted to avoid hauling our luggage up and down stairs as much as possible. This is essential for us, since we travel with about as much luggage as a symphony orchestra plus a couple of soccer teams, with a handful of bicycles thrown in for good measure. The nearest underground to us, Waterloo Station, could take us there, but it is quite old and badly in need of an upgrade, which means NO ramps!!! Just bumpity-bump up and down steps all the way.
To avoid stress, we hailed a taxi, and told him to take us to Saint Pancras train station. (It’s worth noting that for a long time I could not help calling this station Saint Pancreas.) Inside the taxi was the usual unsmiling mug shot of the driver, plus all sorts of signs explaining how much training London taxi drivers must receive before they are allowed on the road, and how they are tested on hundreds of locations and over 20,000 streets. Apparently our driver must have fudged his exam for this particular part of town, because of what happened next. He brought us to the Saint Pancras station, and I was about to hand the driver his fare, when he suddenly got a flash of insight. He said, “Really, you need the Charing Cross Saint Pancras station; people get that confused.” So he whisked us off a few blocks away to another station, and dropped us off. So here we were, bags in tow. We stepped into the station, which, it turns out, was strictly an Underground station, and not the one we needed to find the train to the airport.
We looked at each other, shrugged, and I hauled out my phone and asked Google Maps to get us to the station, and it did as it sometimes does, issuing instructions that no human can follow. (The extreme logic of Google Maps is another topic, which I will cover in a future post.) We ended up following a couple of local people’s directions, which proved slightly more useful and less confusing. Patrice very kindly performed this chore, since hearing on a busy street for me is a bit of a challenge. Eventually, we got to the correct station, purchased our tickets, and set off downstairs to the track. By this time, our generous margin of error had been reduced to a thinnish line, enough to get us to the Luton airport in time for the flight, but not as much as we had hoped. On the way, we had to lift our heavy bags, the very act we had been trying to avoid, as we went down a couple of flights of stairs. (That’s right, the old bumpity-bump.) I’m sure that the effort we expend while schlepping these bags around would qualify as the U.S. Marine Physical Fitness Regimen.
And speaking of going up and down, here are shots of the London Eye, best described as a Ferris Wheel for adults, which very, very slowly presents a 360-degree view of the Thames and surrounding areas around London. The Eye was right next door to our hotel, as was a Starbucks.