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The Grand Tour Lite, alla 2014

May 17, 2014

I’m just saying…

London Again, with apologies to Eric Coates

When last seen, our intrepid duo was foundering in the bowels of Rome, dealing with the likes of revolutionaries, Papists and whatever, and subsisting largely on pizza and Doner Kebab. We now find them in London, burdened with jet lag, respiratory problems, and three additional years. Fortunately, Kebab is still in abundance.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We arrived at Heathrow on Tuesday afternoon after a ten hour flight from LAX. This is not something I’d care to repeat. Ten hours in a sub-zero environment, strapped to an economy-class seat to the accompaniment of jet noise, more or less wide awake, doesn’t leave me in the best of moods. I had loaded up my iPod with classical music, but abandoned it after about fifteen seconds. The quiet parts were lost completely and the rest just couldn’t compete. Oddly, Peggy, an avid traveler, was happy as a clam watching late-run movies.

Once on the ground we made our way through customs (“UK Border”) and purchased Oyster Cards, which give us a week of unlimited Underground travel. The Picadilly line brought us to the King’s Cross section of Islington, and after a fifteen minute walk from the station we arrived at our Airbnb rental and were greeted by our host Gail and her cat Tootsie. After unpacking we fell asleep almost immediately.

We awoke after dark and went out for something to eat.

Regent’s Canal from Thornhill Bridge

Dinner at a Turkish restaurant

King’s Cross station

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our sunny sitting room in Islington, complete with cat

Today we set out to see a few things, in preparation for later excursions.

One of these days I’d like to compile a list of British equivalents for American expressions, or vice versa. “Give Way” for “Yield”, “Way Out” for “Exit”. The words “Proper” and “Grand” come to mind…

We cross Regent’s Canal every day on the way to and from the flat. I never knew London had canals, but the site lists twenty.

The interior of King’s Cross station. It, and the adjacent St. Pancras train station constitute one of the biggest junctions for rail travel in London.

Euston Station, a short walk from King’s Cross. We’ll depart from here to the Lake District on Tuesday.

The Tower of London, of which more later.

Cranes are a constant on London’s skyline. The truncated egg building is City Hall.


This is the (first) obligatory shot of the London Bridge, more properly known now as the Tower Bridge.




The Shard, Renzo Piano’s finest, or at least highest.


The north face of the Tate Modern, and the Millenium Bridge.


St. Paul’s Cathedral, seen from our walk to the south.

The pix above were taken on our walk from the Tower to Foyle’s book shop in Charing Cross. I was frustrated with the little guidebook maps, and the iPad, out on the street, was even worse, what with glare and pinching and unpinching. Suffice to say that we did eventually reach Foyle’s, but it was one long walk, Peggy’s gracious forbearance notwithstanding.

There was also the pressure of time – we had a 6:30 dinner date with friends (via Nick) Elly and Ben back at King’s Cross. We did make it, but just barely.

Charing Cross Caravan. Loud, crowded, and totally cool. Highly recommended.

Elly chose the place, really very convenient for us, the food and drink were great, and the company even better.


And so, in the immortal words of Mr. Pepys, to bed.



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