We managed to find our Hotel/BB in London, with a minimum of difficulty. It is located on a quiet little street called Cartwright Crescent which is reminiscent of Mary Poppins. We had to cart the cases up three flights of narrow stairs to the third floor room which was surprisingly large with an ensuite bathroom. Furnishings were plain but clean and comfortable.
I never have very high expectations when I come to London and this visit lived up to my usual notions. Perhaps it is just my negative attitude and my past experiences, but I tend to become agitated and tense in London. It could be the massive congestion, the overpriced cost of everything, the somewhat confusing underground, the inability to get a pint in the pub, or the superior tone of the londoners which I have conversed with or a combination of all of these.
We took a drive around the major sites on a tour bus and then tried to join a pub walk but we abandoned the group when we waited a good twenty minutes in the first stop without getting served. The tour bus, which was £26 a person, stopped running at 5pm so this forced us to take the underground (£4 for one ticket!). The tube in London is not nearly as easy to use as the metro in Paris. The lines have cute names like Picadilly, Northern, and Metropolitan or are referred to by colours. Unlike Paris, there are no free maps to assist tourists. As you await your train a disembodied voice rambles incoherently about cancellations, detours, and maybe even dead bodies on the lines...it is really impossible to tell because you can't understand a word that is being said and you just hope like hell that the announcement doesn't
involve your trip!
We also rented bikes in London (cheap at £1) but since the streets of London are a nightmare to navigate, this also proved to be a bit frustrating. Street names do not remain consistent and can change for no particular reason; two way streets suddenly become one way; double decker busses and black cabs whiz by within inches of the bikes; and it is impossible to ride on the sidewalk due to the hoards of people. My efforts to ask directions were usually met with blank looks and a shake of the head. The countries in which the native populace did not speak English had much more helpful people than the Anglos of London ... You would have thought I was speaking mandarin from the responses I received!
A highlight of our stop was a visit to the local near where we were staying. Here we met up with Marios, from Transalvania, Jennifer, a US expatriate, Frank, an English hippie/artist, and a French fellow. We shared a few pints with this group and exchanged different view points on life in general. Good times!