I originally intended to write a blog every one or two days but got trapped in a whirling cesspool of time zone adjustment and hangovers which means every second not spent critical trip planning or city exploring is spent adding fresh drool to my jacket sleeves.
So let’s time travel back to London (time travel being the only affordable mode of transport in that city), shall we?
DAY 1 & 2 (March 13/14):
My hostel, The Antigallican (428 Woolrich Road; from Heathrow – Picadilly line to Green Park, change to Jubilee line to London Bridge; above ground train to Charlton stop; across the street on corner; ring bell on number pad on Woolrich side), was probably my favorite thing about London. For $20-25/night, I got a clean bed and towels in a 6-bed dorm; free wireless; and a continental breakfast, which with PBJs can stretch to a free continental lunch and dinner, freeing up precious funds for a pint or two at the bar attached to the hostel. That bar was off the hook Thursday night too. I suppose that could be a drawback for some who enjoy peace and quiet, but come on. Who comes to Europe to sleep?
DAY 3 (March 15):
Having gone crazy lengths to get her passport in time and straight off the back of a Hawaii trip, Ashley rolled into London. Cell phoneless, we had to set up an elaborate meeting plan by email a few hours in advance. Man, the olden days must have been so inconvenient. We trekked to Euston station and, at the Virgin ticket office, purchased round trip (return) “Rail and Sail” tickets that included a 4-hour train from Euston in London to Holyhead on the coast and a 3 ½-hour ferry ride on the cruise ship-esque Ulysses (or under 2 hours on the Swift ferry) from Holyhead to Dublin. Tickets cost 50-some pounds (about $100 US).
Tickets purchases, we headed for Victoria station with access to some more tourist sights. We walked all the way around Buckingham Palace thinking we missed it the first time. I was hoping for some gaudy ornateness and a turret or two, but I guess they used all that energy on the gate and huge fountain.
Who knew royalty and 8-year-old me had so much in common?
The palace itself looked like a courthouse. And there is no way to get a picture kissing the rosy cheek of a palace guard because they’re inside the gate. Rip off.
The best we saw was this guy on a horse across the street.
Upon further exploration, we found some classically British sights.
And Westminster Cathedral
And this posh monkey sculpture near Victoria Station.
We dined on chips and pints (I’m guessing people here have their first heart attack around age 10) at The Boot, which is mentioned by Dickens in some old-ass text; scampered around a bunch of universities; and saw a lot of Dickens name-dropping.
Soon enough it was time to point our sleepy selves toward Ireland. Now I bestow upon you some of the important lessons learned by your plucky but inexperienced Euro traveler.
*When you finally make it through the battering at airport immigration, ask people how to get to the Underground or the Tube (they’re the same thing). At the ticket office, ask for a Tube map and the bus, Tube and Rail visitor’s guide map. If you fly into Heathrow, you’re at the bottom left of the Tube map. Coming from Heathrow, you have to cross all 6 zones to get almost anywhere. If you want to go out and see anything else that day, it’s best to buy a day pass for about 13 pounds (roughly $25 US) which gets you unlimited Tube and Rail rides. If you won’t be crossing all the zones or won’t be going at peak commuter times, cheaper day passes are available. Ask the grumpy ticket person.
*Skip London. Or use it primarily as a travel hub. It is a cheap place to fly into, but that is the only time you will use cheap and London together. If you can, fly in early, explore for a day and fly/train back out that night.
(More soon, but now it’s time to go out and explore Gernika.)