We awoke at 6:30 this morning, packed all of our belongings, loaded up the car, and downed some coffee. Tired and groggy, we headed for London. Gerdie, Trisha’s GPS, reported our estimated arrival time to be an hour after our departure. We soon discovered that Houston traffic has nothing on downtown London traffic. We did not arrive to our hotel until 9:50. Trisha ran in to check us in to our hotel room, and I waited in the busy horseshoe drive as there was nowhere to park by the front of the hotel. We soon discovered that our hotel had no parking at all, and to store our car for the evening we would have to park at a local car park and pay 30 pounds. Quickly deciding that it was not worth it, Trisha punched in the address to the rental place into Gerdie, and I drove like a crazy Brit as we tried to return the car before the 10:30 deadline. Oh wait, I forgot to mention, we had to be on the other side of town at 11:00 in order to make our guided walking tour.
We arrived at the rental place at 10:24 with six minutes to spare, despite Gerdie’s incorrect directions and many “reroutings.” Luckily, the rental car park was right next to the Tube station. Rushing to buy a ticket and jump on the correct train, we asked the attendant what train we needed. He then informed us that we purchased the wrong ticket and would have to return it at the office down the way. Finally straightening out our ticket situation, we sprinted to the landing and hopped on the waiting train with only a few seconds to spare. One stop later, we had to switch trains. Quickly looking at the map, we realized the train we needed next was sitting on the other side about to close its doors and take off. Trisha jumped on first, and we literally had to push the door open so I could board the train. Once again we had another train change a few stops up. However, this train station was extremely large and we had to sprint up and down steps, escalators, and dash through the train station like the family on Home Alone. Somehow we caught the next train just in time. We arrived at our final destination without a minute to spare, and we sprinted once again upstairs and across the St. Paul’s Cathedral Church Yard, only to discover that the wonderful-awesome-tour guide was nowhere to be found. An attendant at Saint Paul’s informed us that he had no idea what we were talking about, and our best choice would be to ask the information center across the street. The helpful man at the information center showed us a self-guided Dicken’s walking tour.
Exhausted, but determined to see the historical locations that inspired Dickens’s writings, we decided to suck-it-up and take the tour. Three hours later, aching legs, water-logged, and ankles about to snap, we finally finished the tour. Though we did get lots of pictures and information, our bodies were spent. Ambling back to the nearest tube station, we jumped on a train to a station that we thought was near our hotel. If you haven’t guessed it yet, we were wrong. We got off at the wrong station and had to walk 30 minutes back to our hotel.
Finally relaxing in our room, we began to look for a place to dine. We came across the Hard Rock Café, and were excited as we have discovered that England has some “interesting” food. Hopping on the right train, we headed to dinner. After walking for an hour, we finally asked for directions. Eventually we arrived at the Hard Rock Café which turned out to be only five minutes from where we first stepped out of the underground. We were forced to sit outside in the freezing, windy air and were repeatedly attacked by persistent bumble-bee.
Now you may be thinking that we don’t’ know how to read maps or street signs. If you have ever been to London, you may be able to sympathize. If you haven’t, let me tell you this. Most roads do not have obvious signs, the street name does not stay the same, maps sometimes leave street names out, there are about a hundred streets that have the same name but the ending changes (i.e, place to avenue to lane…), and stop lights are a thing of luxury-there are only roundabouts.
We began the day tired and exhausted, and we will end it the same. Oh and if you haven’t been keeping track of how much walking we did today, it was probably close to 10 miles or more.