Tag Archives: London

Day 10 – London to Edinburgh

After the botched birthday night, we discovered a new “feature” of our Horrible Hotel: 10 AM checkout, no exceptions. Our plane left at 3 PM. Sweet. Wisely, we forewent any other thoughts of London success (for this trip anyway) and just went for a long coffee and chat. Amazingly, Gatwick’s Easyjet people have also managed to construct an inter-connected series of tunnels very similar to Glasgow’s but with only half the real estate. Gatwick’s superior security made me re-think my assessment that Easyjet is just out to get me. Perhaps they’re ramping up some massively complex psychological scheme to foil terrorists. For example, if you had bombs in your shoes, walking eleven miles on flammable carpeting would likely ignite the explosives. You know, from the friction. You’d never make it with a bomb either – carrying all that weight all that distance would take the spunk right out of you.

Edinburgh was a sunny, cool relief. (London had seemed like a glamorous good idea, but we have re-assessed and decided that the fewer the destinations, the better the vacation.) Our bed and breakfast is a bit out of the way but it’s manned by a very practical and non-intrusive hostess, a prime selling point. We schlepped off to the city center immediately to catch the beginnings of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and some dinner. I’d ordered the catalog but, with 1500 un-reviewed listings, I had no idea what tickets to pre-order, so we’re winging it, which is working out well.

After a long hunt, we tracked down a great restaurant and had our best dinner yet (also a great wine – Whistling Duck Shiraz and Cabernet) and staggered back up the hill to forge through the hordes of people in the streets at 11 PM following the opening night of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. About 6 weeks ago, we snagged the last 2 tickets to Monday’s performance, so we stopped for a few minutes to gloat. All in all, a nice return to Scotland.

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Day 9 – London – R’s birthday!

London was a steambath and the Birthday Gods had clearly taken the evening off, as everything that could go wrong did. We did have a pleasant morning/mid-day though. First thing, powering around at high speeds with my iPod, I tracked down my annual Levis fix and availed myself of the usual bag of Muji container goodies. (I wear my black tech pants for these errands. This leaves both hands free for complex maneuvering but, with British currency mostly being coinage and all my usual bag gear transferred to my multiple pockets, I am remarkably lumpy and weird looking. And, I imagine, heavy. I haven’t lifted myself recently, so I can’t prove this last. Perhaps I’ll ask Easyjet if I can just hop on next time we’re at the airport. “Now let’s see how much I weigh without the hairdryer in my backpocket. Now let’s try it with the hamster. Now with the gun.”)

In the afternoon, R. and I trekked off to Churchill’s War Cabinet Rooms which were excellently detailed and affecting. You’d think that these underground small spaces would trump Easyjet any day, but I’m fine as long as there’s an available exit not manned by some perky horror with a blond braid and an orange jacket who’s out for my luggage ruin. In the weird absence of any of Churchill’s own books, we decided that the appropriate memento would be a poster of Churchill looking fierce underwritten with the huge line DESERVE VICTORY! I’ll take my encouragement where I can get it.

I will spare readers the gory details of the evening out on the town. Suffice it to say that the restaurant was located all the way across London from the hotel, that it lay on a street which shares its name with four other streets, that the staff themselves could not locate it on a map, that it had changed its name recently, that the staff was useless, that the food was only all right and that it was about 1000, say it with me, UN-AIRCONDITIONED degrees. (When will Europeans realize that we have the technology to address temperature irregularities? They don’t have to elect Bush or make any other concessions to America to get it: we’ll let them have it for free. In fact, if they ask nicely, I will personally send them a prototype model from which they can construct their very own and manufacture others for their profit.)

Day 8 – Glasgow to London

We hate Easyjet. They suck. There is no limit to their sucking. Their suckage is monumental. First of all, they have no right angles. Apparently, all the big airlines appropriated all the right angles before Easyjet got there. Or Easyjet had theirs taken away for SUCKING.

Let’s start at the beginning. No sleep. Then 90 minutes on the train to and from Edinburgh for 20 minutes in Edinburgh to drop off a piece of luggage we saw no point in taking to London. This was my cagey plan that would, supposedly, deliver us from Easyjet’s Nazi luggage tactics. Then I went and dropped off laundry in a totally grim area of the city and had lunch at a place where everything tasted and smelled like it had been flown in from hell `specially. (What nut came up with Mango Spice salad dressing? It’s a f#$ing fruit, for Pete’s sake, not a piece of cajun meat ready for the rubbin’.) Then I rushed back, packed and grabbed a cab to go meet the bastards at Easyjet. So I was in a good mood when I got there. And we all know how much I love flying.

They “made an exception” for us by not charging us our first-born for checking my CARRY-ON bag (which they claimed was too large for them, despite the fact that other people were carrying on their living room furnishings in paper bags). There was much frantic re-sorting to remove from this bag everything spillable and valuable before they took it away to join the bag that they informed us could have been a carry-on, the fact of which they informed us of AFTER they sent it through.

Then they tried to confuse me (when I tried to get up to speed on the cost to weight ratio of our bags) by insisting on using the word “pounds” to refer to the cost while I was using it to refer to the weight. After I’d gone cross-eyed, they sent us on the death march of about 7 miles of un-air-conditioned corridors, passageways, terminals and tarmac that separates the devil-spawn check-in people from the evil minions of Satan who man the planes themselves. This is so that when you actually finally completely lose it, you can only take half the staff down with you and the rest will remain to complete the mission.

Being now both blind and disoriented, they sprang it on me that it’s free-for-all seating. (The first time I took Southwest, I cried right there in the terminal.) How expensive can it possibly be to stick little labels on the rows? At this point, I took a Xanax. Heroic R. did get us seats together but, unfortunately, they were not seats but BUCKETS thinly disguised by polyester. I couldn’t really get up to check on this theory because I would have had to bend my knees slightly, which is not permitted by the available space.

Once in London, we discovered that our recommended hotel did not in fact have a lift or normally spaced floors, so we carried all our bags up four flights of – SURPRISE! – un-air-conditioned stairs. (I am well aware of what a diva I sound like, but, with respect to heat and space, I am a difficult case, being both claustrophobic and, history has shown, susceptible to heat stroke. London in August in a heat wave is not my best environment. I could do snakes probably. Or ninjas. Or mud. But not heat. Or small spaces.) Rough day, needless to say.