Monday, June 6, 2016

Thoughts on Adventure - Installment 1

The TRIP OF MY LIFE was absolutely wonderful!  I had a blast walking around one of the largest & most cosmopolitan cities in the world ALL BY MYSELF.  (Apologies for the *all caps* but there is just no other way to convey the thrill of that adventure!)

I'm not going to try to make sense or even decent prose of my notes - just going to post as I have them, along with a few photos.  The problem will be choosing which of the hundreds of photos to post.  You will note there will not be a lot of photos of the traditional (expected) landmarks.  I skipped most of the tourist attractions and dove into what I love - history, gardening, rambling, absorbing the city & its sense of place.

I will make several installments, so please be patient.  On that note:

Day 1 - arrival
The flight was crazy - delays out of DFW set us back 20 min or so, then 2 couples who had been cross-booked from other airlines became fairly belligerent & stayed that way for 5,000 miles.  Every seat on our plane was full.  398 passengers/crew... several infants & 2 wheelchairs.  Turbulence the entire way. 
I had been very anxious about customs... but it was a breeze.  My enthusiasm earned a grin from the Passport Control agent & many good tips from my cabbie.  It was slogging down rain, I was exhausted & disoriented... I sprang for it. 

My hotel (Darlington Hyde Park) is old, charming, quirky & there are tiny twisting staircases everywhere.  Thank God there is a lift (elevator).  I was exploring, got lost & was instructed to just take the lift.  G for ground floor reception.  B for basement laundry & breakfast room. 

Darlington Hyde Park - Sussex Gardens
There are no washrags in my room.
My room is a tuck-away in a corner at the back of the "house" - the minuscule shower is on the same level w/ bedroom, and there are 5 steps up and around the corner for the toilet.  Separate spigot for hot & cold water.  I fear I will tumble right down (or up) those steps & break my neck.
There is no ice.  I knew this going in, but was stunned to find that - quite literally - I could not get ice.

I will be forever grateful to the person who invented WetOnes.  Don't ask.

The power converter/adapter I was so proud of & was assured was correct for the UK.... has the wrong plug.  The reception desk had a loaner, thank goodness.  
There is a charming American couple staying here w/ their 2 quite small children & an abundance of luggage.  I have visions of it all spilling down the narrow twisting staircases & causing a blockage.

Lovely nook

Tiny twisting staircase


The staff here are all displaced Serbs or Croats or Czechs.
The sirens on emergency vehicles sound just like American sirens.  Contrary to what you might see in the movies. I was disappointed.

Initial impressions:       Charming!     Busy!     Overwhelming!
Even the casual types here look better than any American.  Because of their posture.  And their shoes.
Everyone walks very FAST while staring at their phones.

Surrounded by elegant decay
Elegant decay
Most men wear suit-jackets, even with jeans. 
It's wet & rainy, but everyone ignores it & carries on about their business
Backpacks instead of briefcases - with suits
Bicycles everywhere
Pedestrians everywhere
Pigeons Everywhere

Crossing the street is an act of defiance against the Gods & should be classified as an Olympic sport.
People will not meet your eye on the street.
Everyone here is from somewhere else & they all carry on speaking their own languages & still understand each other
I rode the Heathrow Express and in a Black Cab and walked along Hyde Park. All on my 1st day!!!
Trains -  Very smooth.  Very fast
Paddington Station:  Controlled chaos
Even in the rain, no umbrellas!  Then suddenly... 4 umbrellas in polka dots & flowers & hot pink... and one somber in black.

Everyone seems to wear a lanyard with their ID.
I stood in line (queued) at passport control with an Imam, a retired French burlesque dancer (proudly showing pictures) & a Hassidic couple.  Everyone is everyone!!!
Every building has a foyer.  Why?
Wrought iron railings and gates to basement flats (apartments) everywhere.
The food at ASK Italian restaurant was delicious, but there was no bread or salad with the meal.  Fettuccine Bolognese (meat / tomato sauce) - I was so exhausted & light headed I became drunk on pasta alone.

ASK restaurant

There are tiny, lovely gardens - all private of course - everywhere.

Lovely random garden


  1. Washrags...haven't heard that term in years. I have never understood why 'face cloths' are considered too intimate to provide, but not towels or hand towels. Love reading your impressions, makes me remember my first trip to London. I cried when I stood on the Thames looking up at Big Ben. I didn't grow up wealthy and I couldn't believe how lucky I was to be seeing this place I'd read about all my life.

  2. Shelley - I would never have thought of face cloths/washrags as an intimate item, but I guess they are. So when you travel, do you bring your own?
    And I'm with you, did not grow up wealthy - saved for +5yrs for this trip - and tears were involved *many* times.

  3. Bill takes his own face cloth - his toiletries bag has a special mesh pocket for it. I try to remember, but if not, I just use the corner of a hand towel! We mainly travel in the motor home and I stock that with everything. Other wise we are in the US (where they are supplied) or Australia, generally staying with Bill's sister. Can't remember if elsewhere in AU this is an issue. They generally follow the British line when in doubt. I've no idea if 'intimacy' is the real reason, that's just what one lady at a B&B told me was hers.

    So, where are you going to save up for next?

  4. Unfortunately my travel plans are going on hold for a while. I am dealing with some costly repairs to my car (or a replacement - ugh), so all savings will go towards that for the foreseeable future.
    IF I can swing it, there is a writers conference in Ft Lauderdale in Feb. that I am anxious to attend, and another conference that is in New Orleans this year and Toronto next year. Everything hinges on the car maintenance at this point.