After an uneventful, albeit sleepless, trip across the pond I arrived safely in London at Paddington station. This was to be a short 8 minute walk to my hotel …. hah! Of course, I had to engage in some touristy gawping and a reluctance to ask for directions. I headed out of the station in what I was sure was the correct direction until my iPhone convinced me to make a uturn. Well at least that gave me an interesting photo op.
I forged ahead as if I knew what I was doing until I eventually dead-ended at a hotel entrance ( not mine ) so I started a zig zag return towards Paddington. I consulted my iPhone and went off in another direction. Okay, clearly I need to turn right here….. or wait should it have been a left. I’ll walk a few blocks and then retrace myself if necessary. Okay pretty sure retracing is a good idea and dear God this suitcase is getting heavy. Oh look, I’m right in front of Paddington station again. It’s time to give up on my iPhone but if I turn left here I will be on a street I seem to remember from the map. Ah yes, these street names sound familiar. Aha! my hotel!
All hail Caesar! It was only 0930 which was pretty amazing as my plane had landed at 0630. I felt like I had been wandering for days … okay maybe day. My luck was in and my room was available for an early checkin and the breakfast buffet was still open. I unloaded my bags in my room, consumed some quiche and fruit, showered and then crashed. At some point I woke up and went for a wander in the nearby Kensington park, but eventually went back to my room and crashed again. I woke up off and on during the night and apparently in the am …. blackout curtains are a mixed blessing.
After a bit of a late start on Tuesday morning I walked down to Kensington park to start my day. It’s a gorgeous park and the sun was actually shining.
It is apparently a “leash optional” park except in certain areas like the lake and the kids playground.
I really enjoyed the park but I had a voucher for 7 tourist attractions that must be exchanged for actual tickets. So after indulging my pastoral senses, I headed back onto city streets in quest of the Westminster Pier. Well at first I just followed along the sidewalk on the south side of the park, but it was so pretty I kept being drawn in. This time by the horse guards exercise area of Hyde park.
I then very firmly told myself that it was time to head south through city streets and get out of the park. I abandoned my iPhone map then as there were handy maps on street corners every half a dozen blocks or so. I realized after a while that I was totally lost in spite of these maps. I pulled out my paper map and tried comparing it to the street corner maps and decided I could never make them work together. it was time to calibrate. according to the street corner map, if I walked two blocks to my right I would be on x street. so what happened? I was no where near x street. So I looked more closely to the next street corner map! aha! The maps were GPS style – North is not necessarily at the top. whichever way you are facing when looking at the map is the top of the map, e.g. if you are facing SW then the top of the map is also SW. well I was way off course but I did not regret it. I went through some interesting neighborhoods and even got to walk through embassy square.
I finally worked my way down to the Thames near the Chelsea bridge. My first view of the river was not terribly dramatic but it was my first view of the famous river.
I then followed the very lovely Thames river walk past the Chelsea bridge and on until I reached Westminster Abbey and Parliament and everyone’s favorite, Big Ben.
By this time it was late afternoon and I was ready for a break. I got my on/off bus pass and climbed onto the roof of a double decker tour bus and gratefully listened to the tour until it got reasonably close to my hotel.
I cleaned up and was able to meander over to the Maharaja on Queensway where I enjoyed some Naan and tika masala before cLling it a day.
…. and my Tuesday was done.