Thursday, September 1st–London

All day Golden Tour to Cambridge then Oxford; dinner at Richoux

Best Western Cromwell



I woke up very shortly before my alarm was set to go off at 6:30 this morning. I was a little slow getting started and decided I didn't have time to take a shower since I wanted to be in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza next door not much later than 7:15. Besides I'd be on a tour bus and would have my hat on most of the day anyway.

Like with most of the out of town tours I've been on, you're picked up from a location near your hotel and dropped off at a central location from which the tours actually leave. I had to go into the office at Victoria bus station and get my real ticket since I was having problems with email on both my smart phones but that didn't take much time.

Golden Tours uses really nice buses for their out of town tours. Our bus had two different tour groups going to Cambridge then Oxford, one of English speakers and one of Mandarin speakers. There were about fifteen in our group and about the same in the other group. Commentary was provided live in either language by a guide for each group over the bus's sound system.

The bus had a small, airplane-like restroom on board under the last row of seats right before the emergency exit in the middle of the bus. Unfortunately when I finally had to use it shortly before we got to Oxford the toilet had stopped flushing but by then I really needed to use it anyway. When we got to Oxford I told our driver who said that happens when it runs out of water.

It took quite a while to actually get out of London itself on our way to Cambridge, our first stop. Without bad traffic it should take an hour and a half maximum to get there. Although Aria, our guide's presentational manner was dry and somewhat boring all day she was actually quite friendly, knowledgeable and informative. When we got to Cambridge we could either have wandered around on our own or followed Aria around through the town and many of the colleges that are open to visitors which is what I did.

When we boarded the bus to go on to our next stop, Oxford, our provided lunches had arrived. I have no idea who was supposedly responsible for quality control at the Cambridge outlet of Subway but they failed with at least my sandwich which seemed to be just lettuce between slices of bread with no other content. At least the cookie and chips were decent.

It's supposed to be a two hour drive from Cambridge to Oxford in good traffic. We had about two hours there, and most of us followed Aria around for the first hour and a half. Once again, Aria took us to most of the places in Oxford that are open to visitors.

I really liked Cambridge and Oxford and all the colleges we wandered through and past, with all the lovely architecture but don't have much else to say other than that because I don't remember a lot of details.

With good traffic it's supposed to take an hour and a half to get from Oxford to London, which is about what it took us. Instead of dropping people off at all the different places they're picked up from in the morning, Golden Tours does the same thing that Premium Tours did on my trip with them last year–drop people off at two places only, here at Gloucester Road with three different Tube lines using the station, and also over at Victoria which offers other Tube lines and the over ground bus station.

I came back up here to use my own restroom and hung out for about an hour before heading out for dinner. Although I'll probably go to the Indian restaurant around the corner before I leave next Thursday, I thought I'd go to the Richoux, Garfunkel's or Ask Italian across the street depending on which menu posted outside tickled my fancy the most, and I decided I'd most like the mushroom risotto at the Richoux with calamari for starters.

It's now a bit before 10:45, so I hope to have an early night and catch up on my sleep from last night. I have my second of three concerts at St Martin in the Fields tomorrow night, which I'm really looking forward to although I'll have dinner somewhere else before the concert.

I think I'll go to the British Museum first, which is too far to walk to from here (well over an hour) so I'll take the Tube in. From there I'll walk over to the London Transport Museum, a fifteen minute walk; then I'll walk to the National Portrait Gallery, a ten minute walk; then I'll go to the National Gallery around the corner.

I don't want to leave too much before 11 AM so I don't finish up at the National Gallery too early before 6 PM, which will give me plenty of time for dinner somewhere before my concert.

The unlocked, SIM-free smart phone I ordered online didn't come today; I hope it comes tomorrow.

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