Monday, August 22nd–London

Flying from Edinburgh to London; into town from Stansted; afternoon tea @ Richoux; Boots; Sainsbury's; a walk in the neighborhood; dinner at Garfunkel's

Best Western Cromwell



There's not a lot to report on today since most of it involved travel.

I slept OK last night but woke up around 6 AM, at least an hour earlier than I had planned on.

I wasn't too impressed with either Ryanair or the Edinburgh airport this morning. I got there and was through security shortly after 9 AM for my 10:40 flight, and discovered that I'd have to wait until 9:40 before they'd announce from which gate my flight would be leaving. There are absolutely no places to sit in the middle of the shopping area which is the first place where they display the flight information, so I had to just stand around and wait. At least I had been smart enough to also check my hat box as well as my two suitcases, so I only had my pack and Chris's cane and my pack just had my camera and all my caps, so it was a fairly light load. About 9:30 a message came onto the reader board that my flight had been delayed until 10:55 and the gate wouldn't be announced until 9:55.

When the gate was announced it was as far from the entrance as you can get in that airport. Shortly after I got there the announcement board at the gate said our flight was now boarding and the plane hadn't even arrived yet. It could have been worse–while we were waiting the people who had been waiting for their flight at an adjacent gate learned that it had been changed to a different gate all the way on the other side of the terminal, as far from the entrance in the other direction as our gate was.

The plane was an older Boeing 737, and it felt much like any commuter flight such as between Portland and San Jose or between Seattle and Victoria BC, more like a bus terminal than an airport. We had to go outside to where the airplane was then up the stairs, and it was the same here in London Stansted. The gate where we landed wasn't far from baggage claim, but there seemed to be no one working anywhere near there which made me wonder what happens if someone has a problem with their luggage not arriving. It's a good thing there were luggage carts available because the single taxi desk was upstairs and almost at the end of the terminal from baggage claim. There is only one cab company that can pick people up at the airport, and you have to go to their central booking desk to arrange a ride. The good thing about that is that the cabby is right there and will help you take your luggage out to where his cab is parked.

The cab ride from Stansted to my hotel here in London cost more than my cab fair from my hotel in Edinburgh to that airport plus the airfare from there to here including two largish, heavy suitcases, but the high cab fare isn't that surprising after I checked the distances on Google Maps. From Heathrow to here is about half a hour's ride; from Stansted to here takes about 75 minutes. I could have taken the train in but I had four bags and Chris's cane so a cab was much more convenient. Basically, altogether it cost less than $225 to go door to door from my hotel in Edinburgh to here which is quite acceptable.

It was about 2:30 PM when I got here and I was able to get checked in and my room was ready. This year I chose to stay in a room that's a bit larger than the one I stayed in last year, with a couch and an extra chair. It's quite nice, very comfortable, and seems almost palatial after the small, basic but OK room where I stayed in Edinburgh all last week. And the shower here is much larger than the small, phone booth one I had in Edinburgh with a door I could barely squeeze through.

After I brought all my stuff up here to my room and took some pictures, I went across the street to have a very nice afternoon tea for lunch. I went to the Richoux which I'd been to for tea and later for dinner when I was here last year, since they actually opened my last week here.

After lunch I went to the Boots almost next door for some Slimfast, then came back across the street to the tourist shop on the corner to buy a ticket on the hop on, hop off bus tour that stops the closest to here. I then came back to my room and unpacked and sorted out the rest of my things, and stretched out for a while.

About 7 PM I walked up the street to the Sainsbury's to pick up some small bottles of booze and a couple of jars of pickled eggs, which keep very well without refrigeration since this room only has an electric kettle and no fridge or microwave. I had some of the pickled eggs last year, and they're pretty good. So if I skip the not included breakfast here in the hotel, I can have a Slimfast or a couple of eggs.

After I dropped my purchases off here in my room it was time to get some exercise before going out for dinner. I looked at the area on Google Maps and decided to basically walk up to the street the Royal Albert Hall's on and back, which took about half an hour. I then went across the street to have dinner at Garfunkel's which I'd been to at least twice a week when I was here for three weeks last summer. And the younger guy working there whom I had seen most often was working there again tonight, so it was pleasant seeing him again.

I plan on getting up early enough to drop off my dirty laundry downstairs about 8 AM although I might just get up only early enough to pull on some clean clothes and a pair of shoes, take my laundry downstairs, and then come back up here to shave and shower afterwards.

Tomorrow night I have my first BBC Proms concert at 7:30 PM, a little Tchaikovsky, some Rachmaninov, and some Prokofiev, and was just now able to reserve a table for dinner at one of the restaurants in the Royal Albert Hall before the concert.

That leaves between dropping my laundry off downstairs about 8 AM and walking on over to the Royal Albert Hall at 5:30 PM free. My hop on, hop off bus tour ticket is good for 48 hours, so I think I'll ride all the way around tomorrow morning and maybe stop off somewhere the second time around. Then later in the afternoon I might use the treadmill downstairs or go for a walk for my daily exercise. And I also want to go through my DK Eyewitness Guide for London and update my lists as to what I want to see and where else I want to go while I'm here.

It's now a bit past 11:30 PM. I'm going to finish my decaf coffee with a shot of brandy (Sainsbury's own French brandy) and take a look at my tour book for a bit before bed.

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