A Slice of Life
Day 13 – Monday July 13th
I woke to a typical British day; overcast and drizzling rain. There is nothing like a good hot breakfast and a cup of Earl Gray tea to ward off the cold and dampness. It made me glad I was served another hardy English breakfast this morning!
I had scheduled most of this day in London visiting many of the historical WWII museums, and of course, viewing the “Changing of the Guard” at Buckingham Palace. When I was planning this trip I decided not to try to drive into London, but to take the train from Stevenage to London and then take an “On & Off” bus tour of the city.
This day of frustration started when I discovered I didn’t have enough British pound coins for the parking machine (they only take coins) at the train station. I spent almost two hours trying to find someplace to exchange my money. I wanted to exchange some Euros I had brought with me for British pounds. I finally found a Post Office open and got that done.
Once I had parked at the train station, I had to wait for someone to come along to show me how to use the parking ticket machine, (different from all the others I had encountered so far on this trip) only to find out that this carpark payment system used a different “Park & Pay Later” plan. A friendly traveler came along and told me that I should put the yellow token I had received at the entrance barrier into the machine. The machine would give me back my token for use when I returned to the carpark for my car. I thanked her and she said, “Don’t lose that token.”
I had reserved my train ticket and bus tour ticket from home but had, for some reason, not printed out my confirmation notices. That wasn’t a problem at the train station, as the clerk just pulled up my reservation on his computer and handed me my “Return” tickets to Kings Cross. I found the correct platform for my train to London and was finally on my way.
By this time it was 9:30 and it took another hour for the train ride to London. The Golden Tours website had indicated that I could board the double-decker Golden Tours bus right across the street from the Kings Cross train station. Sure enough, I found the Golden Tours representative at the bus stop. But when I told him I had no confirmation paper, he informed me he could not let me board the bus without a ticket. I asked him to just check my reservation, but he said he couldn’t do that from his portable ticket machine. Stress Gummy time!
So, what did I have to do to get a ticket? I had to get on another train and go back to Victoria Station, where their main office was located, and have them look up my reservation and print out my ticket. So, back on another train I went to Victoria Station (which by the way, my train had passed on my way in to Kings Cross). But of course, it couldn’t be that easy could it? For some reason the Victoria Station was now closed and the train went right past it to the next stop. I ask a couple on the train what I could do and they said, “You’ll have to get off the train and catch a bus back to Victoria Station.” And where in the world do I catch the bus? “Ask the Station Master at the exit.” They said.
That involved several more blocks of walking to find the bus stop. When the right bus came the driver didn’t want to accept my train ticket for the bus ride. I told him the Station Master at the train station had said we (there were about 20 of us with the same problem) could use our train tickets for the bus and that the drivers would be notified by radio. He said he hadn’t heard anything about that. Stress Gummy time again! Luckily there was a very persuasive lady in our group who convinced the driver (on pain of death) to let us on.
—–To Be Continued—–