Today was mostly a travel day. I personally was looking forward to getting to London only so that I could quit writing this blog in French and having Google Translate translate it for us. It’s tiring to write in a language you don’t know.
So we packed our bags, bid adieu to the amazing and beautiful and sometimes rude Gay Paree, and boarded a Eurostar train from Paris to London, which traveled under the English channel. The trip was largely uneventful… I kind of expected more out of the “chunnel,” but it was just dark.
Along the way we took some pictures from the train of the French countryside. It was mostly pretty boring scenery, which caused us to entertain ourselves in other ways:
Once in London, we saw some of the typical London scenery, including the ubiquitous double decker buses, and while we didn’t pass by any of the touristy sights, the architecture is markedly different than Paris, looking more like any US city than the grandiose and ancient edifices that are peppered throughout Paris, although this one was a little high fallootin’:
Speaking of ancient, it was the first time we’ve seen a phone booth in eons, so we had to take a picture of them, and two different kinds to boot!
Our Uber driver dropped us off at the address provided, and we proceeded to the door and knocked with the knocker. No answer. We rapped again. Still no answer. I dug up the contact information I had through VRBO (for the record, I think I like AirBnB better than VRBO), sent a message, tried to call… all to no avail. We asked several passersby if they knew where the address we had was… they were all friendly and polite, but none of them knew.
Hmm. Other than getting lost on the Paris Metro, this was the first major foul-up we’d encountered on our trip. I called again, checked Google Maps, did all sorts of things. Finally we began walking up and down the street. Voila! (We’re still thinking in French.) The address contained the name of the apartment complex, and the number within said complex. There really is no such address as was given to us per se. We were deposited within a shouting distance of the address, but it certainly wasn’t obvious. The VRBO property manager loses a star or two for providing less than stellar directions. Even the neighbors had no idea where the place was.
So we lug the suitcases (well, I lug the suitcases: note to self: get smaller suitcases for the next international trip) up to the third floor, and are greeted by a Russian maid who speaks virtually no English. Sigh. We were so looking forward to communicating only in English for a while.
Since she had an hour to go, we deposited our luggage and explored the neighborhood. Shortly we saw a place featuring fish and chips. You gotta have fish and chips in London, and so we thought it very appropriate as our first meal. The place was very cleverly called, “Fishers Fish & Chips.”
So we order the fish and chips, and when we were served, we realized that we had both experienced a new personal record for the largest piece of fish ever served to us as a fish and chip:
And here we thought they’d serve smaller portions overseas. The good news is that I now have breakfast for the next morning, since there was no way either of us could finish those monsters. We’re hoping the fish didn’t get caught near the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The waitress was a hoot, and we even bantered with another couple next to us. Thus far, we have found just about every Londoner we’ve encountered to be exceedingly friendly. One lady even hit my leg just a little in the grocery store and just about fell all over herself apologizing profusely. In Paris or even Amsterdam they wouldn’t have even acknowledged it if they’d drawn blood.
The view from the flat is not exactly touristy, but it’s fine. The flat itself isn’t going to get a great rating. In addition to the lack of communication by the owner, the fridge stunk to high heaven (I walked into the kitchen after Carolyn had the door open while depositing our groceries and noticed the significant odor even then), the toilet has a hard time flushing, and the bathtub’s vinyl shower curtain has that mold they so often get. It’s not horrible, but the place is definitely not cared for to the level we’ve seen in other VRBO’s and AirBnB’s. But it’ll do.
At least the decor is magnificent:
We’re gonna relax the rest of the day. All of this walking has been hell on our feet, and we’re both a bit tuckered out. We’ll probably even take it a little easy tomorrow: just figure out the Tube and get our bearings and see maybe a thing or two, but we won’t push it. Part of the vacation is to see things, sure, but the other part is to relax, and there hasn’t been a ton of that so far.
And of course, we must close with the Door of the Day: