Monday, 31 January 2011

Getting down to London

We went to London this weekend. London is about 60 miles away from Cambridge. That means about 95 km for those of us who don't know how to convert miles to km (myself included, thanks Google!). We asked my cousin Ross about the best mode of transportation - train vs bus vs renting a car. The car rental is the easiest to rule out: (a)expensive, (b) hello, wrong side of the road, and (c) we were leaving Friday after Matthew left work, and who wants to drive through or around London on a Friday at rush hour?? Ross suggested the bus (except here it's called a coach), since it is cheaper than the train.

We looked into the train anyways - it goes from Cambridge to King's Cross Station in London. That would mean we'd have to take the tube from King's Cross (north London) to Charing Cross station (centre London) to catch an overland train to my Nan's house. So, we checked the National Express website, and there was a coach that left Cambridge at 1535 and got into London Embankment at 1735. The Embankment is a big long road that is on the city-side of the Thames (as opposed to the side my Nanny lives on), and is within 10 minutes walking distance of Charing Cross station. Awesome! I was totally stoked that we wouldn't have to take the tube in rush hour on a Friday - especially as we had a playpen (and those bad boys weigh a TON), a car seat, a sports bag of stuff, a diaper bag, Matthew's backpack and a baby. Easy decision: we booked the coach tickets and were on our way.

The drive was uneventful. Elizabeth fell asleep in the taxi on the way to the coach station, and then woke up as soon as the coach left - obviously. But other than having to read "Hand Hand Finger Thumb" (dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum) a million times, nothing terribly exciting happened. We arrived at the Embankment stop just as Elizabeth started to get really grumpy about being in her car seat (aka car jail). We went to get off the bus, and asked the driver to open the hold so we could get our stuff out, and he said, 'Oh no, you can't get luggage out of the hold here, love. You have to go to Victoria station. It's against the rules.' . . . . . seriously? Are you kidding me? The "rules"???

After a two-minute hate for London & buses & drivers & traffic & basically everything about public transportation, I got over it, and we figured out how to get the tube from Victoria station to Charing Cross. Turns out it is only one tube line with no changes, so easy peasy, right? Wrong. Victoria station was having major engineering work done, so there were NO escalators or elevators going down. There was a line up about 100 people deep just waiting to get to the stairs down to the tube line. The headline of the Evening Standard actually said, "AVOID VICTORIA STATION AT RUSH HOUR"...  And there we were, with about 800 pounds of crap with us, and a cranky, hungry baby. Awesome.

We quickly realized that getting down to the tube station was impossible, and got ourselves out of the mash of angry commuters who just wanted to get home. After phoning Nanny to tell her we'd be late, we started the walk to Charing Cross - there was no point getting a bus or trying to get on the next tube station because everyone else was having that exact same idea. In hindsight, we should have probably strolled rather than power-walked, because we passed some of the great sights of the City Of London - Westminster Abbey, the Parliament buildings, Big Ben, the walk up White Hall and past Downing Street... but I had to get to a bathroom and didn't want to stop because then E would have realized she was starving. So we busted it to Charing Cross, and got on a train, and finally, got to Nanny's house. Instead of being a 3 hour trip, it was 4 and a half. But we made it. And Nanny had spaghetti waiting for us. And we bought beer at Charing Cross. There's nothing that home made spaghetti and beer can't fix.

How sad is it that I didn't take a single picture of Elizabeth on her first walk through London!! Parents of the Year, right here.

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