We arrived here by train today, from London. We had flown into London on Tuesday, having left San Diego on Monday. Of all the flights I’ve made to London, this was probably the easiest—ten hours non-stop on British Airways. We took a taxi from Heathrow to the apartment we rented —we said we’d arrive between 5:00 and 5:30 pm, and we were there at 5:05. No one there. We called, but had to leave a message. Called again 15 minutes later—had to leave another message.
As we were waiting, with our luggage, an estate agent (what we’d call a Realtor) came by to show another apartment in the building, and said we were the second family she’d found waiting for that apartment, and, in fact, the apartment was owned by one of her clients, and he had leased it to an individual at 400 pounds per week, and that tenant was now, illegally, subletting it as a vacation rental at well over twice that amount through Booking.com. She added that the owner was aware of the situation, and would not object to our staying there, but we should try to get a refund from Booking.com. After about the 5th call, we actually were able to speak to the guy who was sub-letting the apartment, and he told us he was across town and would be there in 45 minutes. And he did finally show up, after we had been waiting outside with our luggage for almost two hours. It was a reasonably nice apartment, in a great location in Knightsbridge, and we were glad to finally settle in.
After that rocky start, our stay in London was great. On Wednesday we toured Buckingham Palace along with what seemed like about 10,000 other people. It was fun to see the rooms where the Queen entertains visitors like President Obama. Not quite sure that Trump will ever be invited. Even though we had lived in Essex near London (1/2 hour by train) we had never toured the palace. Our tour included a garden tour, but as it was pouring all day that day, we really didn’t see much of the garden. That evening we splurged and had dinner at the Ritz. The food was excellent, and really not all that expensive, cheaper than Mister A’s.
On Thursday we visited the Tate Britain—where the largest Turner collection is. We took two tours, one on the history of English artists, and another on 19th century art. We had lunch at the Tate, then took the tube to the Courtland Gallery, which is in Somerset House. That evening we ate in our favorite Indian Restaurant. We first ate there in 1999, and it’s still there, in the same location, doing well.
The trains to Cambridge leave London from King’s Cross station. We weren’t sure that our tickets for today, were good for any train to Cambridge, and not just the 10:40 am train. We we’re sure how long it would take to get to the station by taxi, and wanted to get there early, but perhaps not the hour and ten minutes early we actually were. We went to the information counter, and as soon as Roger said something, the clerk said “sorry, we can’t help Americans” smiling as she spoke. I said “we’re anti-Trump does that help?” She laughed and said, yes that helped a great deal. She added that she didn’t understand how the man got elected as all the Americans she met with said they didn’t like him. Roger pointed out that only about 10% of Americans had passports, and it was the un-travelled, un-educated types who supported him. (Well, Roger used a somewhat more colorful language that would not be appropriate for this site.) Our tickets were good for any train that day, so we took the 9:40 am, and were in Cambridge by 10:30 am.
We took a taxi to the Hotel du Vin and Bistro, where we left our luggage (check-in time wasn’t until 3:00 pm,) and walked a block to the Fitzwilliam museum. When we were living in Essex, we had come up to Cambridge several times, but somehow never visited the Fitzwilliam. It was well worth the visit, quite an eclectic collection. We shared a great fish and chips order for lunch, then tottered back to our hotel, and were able to check in. We’ll have dinner at the “Bistro”.
Dinner was fabulous—especially the chocolate bombe for dessert.