On day one, Wednesday May 7th, we travel to London and arrive on Thursday May 8th. Hmmm….
After a certain amount of faffing about with a nice enough fellow at the Heathrow Underground Information desk, we acquire Oyster Cards with which we may ride the transit thingies of London for a reduced fare during our stay. We are informed that they are good for life. As of yet, we do not have confirmation of this, as we are not yet dead.
We ride the Underground–or “tube” as the locals call it–
–to King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station.
We discover that while King’s Cross is so ugly the English have chosen to hide it behind a bunch of stumpy cardboard buildings, St. Pancras station across the street, is quite a lovely bit of Victorian mock-Gothic. So lovely in fact, that much of it is hidden by scaffolding so as not to embarrass its sister station while it is being remodeled into flats and a hotel–excuse me… an hotel. It’s still also a National Rail station with international trains to exotic places… like Exeter.
Up in the heights of Pankers–as the locals call it–we discover the Betjeman Arms and have a traditional lunch:
I have steak and mushroom pie and Jim has fish and chips. We both have rather nice beer and Jim adopts the rallying cry of the English pub-crawler that shall echo throughout our trip of “Pie and a Pint!” (I seem to have had all the best pies, however.)
We then drag our unhappy suitcases to the first hotel–the Howard Winchester–which is cheap, small, old, and weird, but also cheap! And only 4 blocks away. Hurray! This hotel seemed to have been built when indoor plumbing was a bit of an oddity and it’s only gotten odder. Our “en suite” bedroom has a large step-up closet sort of arrangement with a frosted glass shower door on the exterior which reveals a huge wet-room of slate tile containing a shower and toilet. But no shelves or hooks on which to put anything. The sink is in the room proper with the beds. Yes, beds. I was unable to book a “double”–a room with one large bed instead of two small ones (a “twin”)–and got a “Double Plus One”: one standard double bed plus one smaller twin which then became our Place to Throw Our Shit.
After Throwing said Shit around a bit and learning how to flush the extremely picky English toilet–it’s an art, I tell you!–we go out to prowl for Something Interesting and possibly more food. Or at least more beer.
We find Regents Canal
to which we would later return in better light–or possibly not better light, since this was a particularly pretty shot of the revitalized canal with its new flats and condos replacing the derelict warehouses and factories that used to wobble along this stretch until a few years ago.
Abandoning the canal, we at last find sustenance (though not much beer) at a mediocre Indian restaurant called the King’s Cross Tandoori (and Balti) before staggering off to bed.
Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of Kat and Mr. Kat in England!