Shopping and drinking in London.
London Travel Blog› entry 213 of 251 › view all entries
August 29th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Our flight from Prague to London was on EasyJet, a budget carrier with no assigned seating. Your position in the plane depends on how early you line up, so we got to the airport early and managed to get near the front of the line for our boarding passes. We were assigned group number “A” and boarded in the first group, securing bulkhead seats at the very front of the airplane. Legroom...sweet!
It was a short flight -- about 1:40 -- then we landed at Stansted Airport, about 30 miles (48km) from London. There were many transportation options for getting into the city, but we wound up on a train since that is the line I happened to get in first. After about 30 minutes on he Stansted Express, we had to get off and transfer to the Underground, and then transfer again to another line to get to our final stop.
Our hotel, The Grand at Trafalgar Square, is very centrally located. After checking in and getting settled in the room a bit, we went out to explore our neighborhood. We are near such notable landmarks as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square. We checked these out along with throngs of other tourists, but didn’t go to Buckingham Palace as we wanted to save it for tomorrow.
We walked quite a bit and were getting tired, but when we got to Piccadilly Circus, I became more energized … it was the long street full of stores that did it, I think.
At 8:30pm we took the Tube to West London to meet Turlough and Aoife, the couple we met on a dive boat in Jordan. I was surprised they were able to meet us, since they are leaving for Mexico in the morning and, according to Turlough, are completely disorganized, not packed, with no hotel selected, etc.
We met them, along with a friend of theirs named Peter, at a pub near their home in Parson’s Green.
The conversation was lively and interesting, and before I knew it, I had finished three beers and was awaiting my fourth, when Steve said to me: we have to leave NOW. Seems the stronger beer (and shot of whiskey) the boys had been drinking was catching up with him. So I quickly canceled my order, and we made our excuses -- to our hosts’ dismay. The night was still young! There were still several hours until their flight left! After some small arguing with Turlough, we left the party and set off for the Tube, where, unbeknownst to us, we caught the last train out.
The excitement did not stop there. Three stops from our destination, Steve announced that he could not wait any longer, he absolutely must find a toilet. He jumped off the train, saying he would meet me back at the hotel! When I got off the train, they locked the station behind me…it was closed up for the night, and I was sure that Steve had no cash for a taxi! This caused me no small amount of grief and worry. How would he find his way home?
I walked back to the hotel, noticing a very high concentration of drunks near the train stop. One young lady with mascara running down her cheeks was sitting on a concrete pillar, leaning over to vomit as I walked by. People were staggering around like they had spent the last 8 hours drinking cider and doing shots, which they probably had.
Thinking that Steve might just hire a cab and then figure out payment later, I waited on the hotel steps with cash.
Just over an hour later, Steve walked up, surprised to see me there. He had had quite an adventure of his own, which maybe he can recount in his own blog one day. At 2:30am, we collapsed in bed. There’s a reason we don’t do this very often.
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