Wednesday, July 29, 2015

London, Here We Come!

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: April 24 and 25, 2015

Darcy and Mathieu were both at work, so I did some laundry and tidied up the house in preparation for our trip to England. We were all looking forward to seeing Craig in London soon. I knew he was anticipating a break from work!

That evening, we all went to Chez Ming for dinner. Fanny and her young daughter, Jade, were able to join us. We were feeling very festive because this was actually vacation eve for Mathieu and Darcy. We had a wonderful meal and I enjoyed listening to Jade speaking some English. It's amazing how quickly children can pick up a new language. I hope that someday I will be able to converse with Fanny and Jade in French.

I was up late, tracking Craig's flight. I finally went to bed around 1:00 AM, when I saw that boarding had begun. I tossed and turned all night, and finally got out of bed at 5:00. I checked Craig's flight status again, and learned that his flight had been delayed for two hours due to an air conditioning valve malfunction. That meant we would all arrive in London at about the same time.

Darcy, Mathieu, and I set out for Paris by train. We had a quick breakfast of pastries and coffee in the station before our train left for Gare d' Austerlitz. Once there, we grabbed a taxi for the ride to Gare du Nord, where we would board the Eurostar. I had never been to Gare du Nord - it was a busy place! The Eurostar terminal was chaotic, but we found a cafe in which to purchase some sandwiches and sat down for a quick lunch before joining the queue on the platform. I was nervous about crossing the channel tunnel, so I made sure that I had an absorbing game to play on my iPad while making the crossing. I ignored the darkness outside the window, and before I knew it, we had arrived in London! My phone rang before we were even off the train. It was Craig, informing me that he has just arrived at Heathrow and was taking a taxi to meet us at the hotel. He was a bit concerned that his ATM card had refused to work at the airport, though he had managed to exchange some euros for pounds and believed he would have enough for the ride to our lodgings.

The beautiful St. Pancras train station in London.

St. Pancras International  is a busy and beautiful London train station which first opened in 1868. The Victorian Gothic Architecture is a wonder. The elegant interior is crammed with restaurants and shops of every kind. We didn't linger in the station, but set out to walk the short distance to the hotel. It should have been a quick walk of less than two blocks, but it took us a bit longer because we took a couple of wrong turns. We checked into the Hotel Apollo, a bed and breakfast which was small and charming and very clean. 

The Hotel Apollo in London was cozy and clean.

Craig phoned again, this time from the taxi. He said that the meter was ticking away at an alarming rate and asked if we could meet him outside the hotel as he was certain that his 50 pounds just wasn't going to be enough. Mathieu and Darcy sprinted back to the station and located an ATM, where they were able to withdraw from my account. They returned in plenty of time to hand over the 120 pounds due for the taxi ride from Heathrow! We had heard that London cabs were expensive, but wow!  

It seemed that every year we had traveled to France, there was a problem with one or the other of our debit cards. Even though Craig and I had both informed the bank of the dates of our travel and were assured that both cards would work properly, it had never turned out that way. The problem was not insurmountable, but was awfully inconvenient at times. It was actually a good thing that Craig's flight had been delayed! 

No comments: