Wednesday, 30 May 2018

London, England (198 St. John Street, Clerkenwell)

I was up early this morning to ensure I had time to finish packing for my flight to Bucharest. Our Airbnb host asked yesterday that we not use the one bathroom at all. Apparently, there is still a leak somewhere. Since he have a great discount for Craig to stay on another day, I decided not to ask for more compensation.

Since the journey to the Luton Airport takes about an hour, I wanted to be out of the flat by 9:30 a.m. Craig will be without my help for about a day, so I left written instructions for him. He will be joined by his Seattle friend, Bruce, later today, but I wanted to make sure that he was comfortable with getting around otherwise. (I hope Craig appreciates my attention to detail.)

After we said our goodbyes, I left for the Farringdon Train Station, located directly across from the underground station. This is where I bought a ticket for Luton Airport. After arriving at Luton Airport we all got on a shuttle bus to the airport. It was just two hours before the flight was to depart. I checked in my suitcase then ate a late breakfast before going through security to the gate.

Our flight was delayed about a half and hour due to air traffic over Germany. Though we must have made up some time because we were almost on time when we landed at Bucharest.

My only concern at the Bucharest Airport was how to arrange for good transportation to the hotel. I read about the various transportation options while I was waiting at the Luton Airport. I decided to give the taxi service a chance. To use the taxi service you go to a machine in the Airport lobby and select a taxi service, press a button and you get a ticket. The ticket shows the name of the taxi service, the number of the taxi, and when the taxi is expected outside to pick you up. Mine was about five minutes late, but he took me directly to the hotel with no problem. The 30 minute ride cost, with tip, about $15.00, which I thought was very reasonable.

I found out that I was upgraded to a junior suite, which I very much appreciated. It was now 8:30 p.m., which is two hours ahead of London due to the distance we traveled to the east. We had flown over two time zones. I ordered room service and got settled into my room. Watched another episode of The Crown before going to bed.

Tomorrow I plan to sleep and rest. And perhaps go for a short walk to the river and see at least one attraction here. Touring London for the past week left me without my usual naps and I need to get back on my regular schedule.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

London, England (198 St. John Street, Clerkenwell)

We were out the door earlier today because we are traveling to Richmond, home of the famous Kew Gardens. Actually, the trip is several steps. First take the underground from Farringdon Station to Baker Street Station, then the Jubilee line to Waterloo station. At Waterloo station, buy tickets for the train to the community of Richmond. When at Richmond, catch a bus to Kew Gardens. The duration for this journey took about 90 minutes. Though, on the way to Farrington Station, we stopped by the nearby post office to put several items in the mail.

At Kew Gardens we both used our senior status to get reduced priced tickets. (Saved a little over two pounds each!) There was so much to see here, so we took a few minutes to discuss our game plan. We agreed to join the Temperate House tour at 12:30 and, in the meantime, would walk through the Palm Glass House.

The Palm House was very warm and humid. I had to take off my glasses and coat as soon as I walked in. So many tropical plants! But the heat and humidity! I now know that I probably will not visit tropical countries. Think I’ll stay a good distance away from the equator.

The Temperate House (plants that live in more temperate climates) tour was very interesting. It has recently reopened this month. The person giving the tour gave an excellent introduction of the building’s history and purpose. When inside, out guide selected a few plant groupings and told us more about each.

It had started to rain while we were on this tour. By the time we left it was a downpour and there was so much water, there was a moat forming around the building. We were both drenched as we returned to the visitor center. We hadn’t come prepared for the rain. We saw an electric truck pulling covered cars and decided to join that tour. That was a great idea. We were able to see many of the garden’s features without leaving the dry comfort of the tour.

The rain looked liked it wasn’t going to stop so we caught a bus that took us back to the train station. By the time we returned to the flat we were tired and hungry. Craig suggested pizza and I was okay with that.

He found a nearby street that had many food and drink establishments. One of them was a placed named Santore. While it was 8:00 p.m., the place was full and we waited 10 minutes for a table. We quickly agreed upon a pizza to share and a good merlot. We have many family stories to share and this was our last night before I leave tomorrow.

It has been great to have the time to catch up with Craig. His family lived in the Seattle area and we saw them from time to time for weddings, picnics, and most recently, funerals. Craig is actually my mom’s first cousin, so I’m his first cousin, once removed. He and my mom share the same grandparents and I’m one generation removed, so these grandparents are my great-grandparents. Anyway, we talked frequently about his Aunt Floye (my Great-Aunt Floye) who traveled the world in her senior years. (Floye was his father’s sister and my grandfather’s sister.)

Our pizza, Napoli style, was excellent. And so was the wine. I didn’t realize it, but we walked over 25,000 steps yesterday. No wonder I was tired. Think Craig was tired too.

I folded the load of wash that I started before we left for dinner. Then got my things ready to pack tomorrow. Thankfully it was a cool day and the flat was like it should be (not hot!) with more typical London weather. I’m sure that neither of us will be bothered by the heat as we sleep tonight.

Onwark to Bucharest tomorrow.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Monday, 28 May 2018

London, England (198 St. John Street, Clerkenwell)

Since we didn’t quite make it to the Kensington yesterday, we will make it our travel destination today. High on the list is to see the Victoria and Albert Museum and Albert Hall. Time permitting, we will walk over to Kensington Palace.

Rather than take a bus, we opted for the underground that will drop us off near the V&A Museum. Nice to have Farrindon Station so close and the walk to the station takes less than 10 minutes. Craig is getting better with the underground and learns more each day.

After we arrived at the V&A, we sat down and mapped out what we wanted to see. We decided to start at the top and work our way down. As I had mentioned in a previous post, the ceramic collection goes on forever and difficult to walk from one end of the floor to the other without stopping many times along the way. Even though I have visited the V&A several times, I see something new when I go with someone else.

Craig wanted to investigate a nearby hotel that was recommended to him by a friend. Since he is staying an additional day, he could either rent the flat we’re in for one extra day or move to a hotel. This hotel was a short walk from the V&A. The recommended room was called a “cabin” room because it really was the size of a small cabin you’d find on a boat or train. Room just for a bed and a small bathroom. The interesting point was that this large converted house was once the home of the Queen Mother’s father. After viewing this hotel, Craig decided to stay another night in the flat where we’re staying and we were fortunate that the Airbnb host discounted the rate.

As we were walking toward the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Statue, we realized that Kensington Palace was a short walk from where we were, so we first walked over there. Craig took pictures while I found a place in the shade underneath a tree. It was getting very warm but found it cool sitting on the grass while waiting for Craig.

On the way to the Royal Albert Hall I showed Craig where I stayed a couple of years ago. A single room Airbnb property where I shared a kitchen and bathroom with several other people. That type of Airbnb quickly became a non-option when I made future Airbnb Reservations.

At the Royal Albert Hall I was beginning to get very hungry so I ordered a hot dog from a nearby street vendor, but only ate half of it. It was horrible. Craig took a bite from the other end of the hot dog and agreed that it was the worst. We had a good laugh and hoped that we wouldn’t feel the side affects later in the night.

We didn’t do a tour of the Royal Albert Hall, but you could walk around the hallway around the auditorium and view pictures of some of the many performers who have been featured over the years.

It was getting late in the day and we took the underground back to our area of Kensington where we found a place to have dinner. I must have had bad food karma today because the baked cod that I ordered was not cooked all the way through. At that point I lost my appetite.

The flat, at least the bedrooms, were not so hot in the evening because we closed off the bedroom area before we left earlier in the day. The rest of the flat cooled off once we opened the windows.

Tomorrow we are visiting Kew Gardens. It will be a good change of pace to take a train out of central London so Craig can see the countryside.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Sunday, 27 May 2018

London, England (198 St. John Street, Clerkenwell)

After we were up and about this morning, our Airbnb hosts came by at 11:00 to repair the small leak in my bathroom’s shower – which had previously leaked into the flat below. We left them at the flat while we rode the underground to visit Parliament Square and Buckingham Palace.

It was too bad that the Parliament buildings and Big Ben were covered with scaffolding during renovation. But the work has to be done to preserve these buildings for future generations. We walked down Westminster Bridge so Craig could have a better view of the Parliament buildings from the river side, where there wasn’t as much scaffolding.

Westminster Abbey was closed today, because it was Sunday. Though Craig seemed to enjoy looking at this building from the outside. Definitely a large church, though there are many other churches in Europe that are much larger. Still, considering that the Abbey is around a 1,000 years old, that is impressive.

We walked through St. James’s Park to Buckingham Palace. Craig was interested in the movements of the red-coated guards while we visited the palace. We took a selfie before we walked through the Palace’s gift shop, which is one of the best gift shops that I’ve been in. They seem to have the best of everything. Craig found a number of souvenir items that he will take back to the U.S. for family and friends.

We were both getting hungry and Craig encouraged us to take a bus from the Green Park station to Sloan Square so we could explore Chelsea and find a place to eat. I’ve avoided buses because they can become tied up in traffic and I also don’t understand their routes, but I thought I should give it a try. Probably more interesting for Craig since riding a bus gives him more opportunity to see London.

We almost had a disaster when Craig realized he didn’t have his wallet. Fortunately it was waiting for him when we returned to the place where we bought our lunches.

As it was getting late in the afternoon, we decided to take a bus back to the flat so he could prepare for having dinner with a friend of his. I would leave after I had my dinner to meet up with my friend Miguel.

We both arrived back to the flat at around midnight. It was still hot in the flat and there wasn’t much of a breeze to help cool the rooms. I stayed up and watched another episode of The Crown then fell asleep on the sofa.

Tomorrow we are traveling to the Kensington area to visit the Albert & Victoria museum and perhaps a couple of other museums in the area. Then walk by Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial. We may also return to the New Globe Theatre to watch a play.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Saturday, 26 May 2018

London, England (198 St. John Street, Clerkenwell)

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we’re walking by the Tower of London today, crossing Tower Bridge and explore the area south of the Thames. It will be a full day.

Again while Craig was getting his coffee and doughnuts for breakfast, I used the time to take a shower and get dressed. It was going to be a bit warmer than yesterday so I wore a lighter t-shirt.

Traveling to the Tower of London was easy. The nearby underground station had a train that went directly to Tower Hill and we got off there. After walking across the Tower Bridge we got to see it open for a passing boat. It was a beautiful day and we both took some terrific pictures.

The Borough Market, one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, was a short distance away. We were both getting hungry and went out own way to find something to eat. There was no shortage of options! Thankfully, it wasn’t too crowded and most lines were short, except for this one booth selling coffee that had at least 30 people in line waiting.

On the way to our next destination was another Caravan establishment. Craig found another one the night before, so he has completed the Caravan trifecta. Then we found out there was one more that we didn’t see listed.

Craig was talking with the bartender and a couple nearby. I happened to see Tom Daley (the UK Olympic diver) with some friends outside. My first celebrity sighting! I’ve probably walked by dozens of celebrities in my travels but wasn’t paying attention.

After I finished my pint of beer and Craig finished his gin and tonic we walked toward the New Globe Theater. They offer tours there and have regular performances as well. We were hoping just to look inside to the theater, but we told we would need to go with a guide. We agreed this is something to consider for later.

Nearby was the Tate Modern. Part of it looks new and the remainder of the space was reclaimed from the former Bankside Power Station. As a result, a number of very large rooms that are perfect for displaying the vast number of exhibits. I saw Tate Britain with Prean last year, that also has a number of pieces of modern art, but this was my first visit here. It was getting toward the end of my day of touring and after about an hour I left Craig who wanted to continue walking around.

I decided to walk back to the flat via the Millennium Bridge then see St. Paul’s along the way. It was a great day for walking. In all, I walked 18,697 steps today. Once back to the flat I was ready to remove my shoes and get off my feet. After I opened up all the windows to let in fresh air I took a nap on the couch. Later I walked to the nearby Waitrose and bought some hamburger and frozen peas for dinner.

While starting to watch more of The Crown, Craig walked in. He was out on his own exploring London. Unfortunately, his mobile hotspot’s battery went dead and he lost the ability to use his phone for its map function. He said he took some wrong turns but eventually was able to find his way back. Considering he has only been here a few days and without a map, he did a super job finding his way around.

Tomorrow is Buckingham Palace, Parliament Buildings, and Westminster Abbey. Then look around Chelsea before heading back to the flat.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Friday, 25 May 2018

London, England (198 St. John Street, Clerkenwell)

Cousin Craig and I woke up at about the same time this morning; 8:15. He had said he might be exceptionally tired in the morning but think he was more alert than me. While he went out to find himself some coffee and doughnuts, I used the time to shower and get dressed for our first day of seeing London together.

Craig mentioned a few places he would like to see and I put together an informal itinerary for us. He was interested in walking through the National Gallery and perhaps walk around Soho. Also he wanted to get experience navigating and riding the underground trains.

We were out the door at around 10:30 and walked over to the nearby Farringdon underground station. Last night Craig walked over to this station and was able to guide us to the station again this morning. Good job, Craig! We caught the train that would take us to the National Gallery, so we needed to get off at the Embankment Station. Since we were so close to the River Thames, we walked down to the river and we looked around got our bearings before visiting the National Gallery. By this time it was lunch time and we decided to eat lunch first, then visit the Gallery.

Craig found a nearby Italian restaurant and we enjoyed a very filling meal. We enjoyed talking with the staff and enjoyed our meals very much. Craig is taking everything in and reading signs, looking at buildings, and asking many questions. I hope it works to speed him up a bit and for me to take it slow.

We found our way back to the National Gallery and went in. There was a Monet exhibition, but we decided to look around the gallery first then decide if we wanted to visit the exhibition today or another day. I don’t believe Craig has seen so much world-class art in one place. The gallery is the 11th most visited museum in the world, as of 2017.

After about 90 minutes we were both ready to leave. (You can see a lot of art in 90 minutes.) We saw a number of Monet and van Gogh pictures, among many other artists from different periods. From there, he was interested in checking out a few jazz clubs in the Soho district. The path getting to one of the clubs took us through most of Soho so he was able to see more of this vibrant area of London.

We found the club he was looking for then went to find the underground station that would take us back to the flat. On the way, he had an idea to find the Tiffany store in London. We found one on Old Bond Street and Craig used his phone’s GPS to get us there. It was a bit trying, but we eventually found the place.

Now to find our way back to the flat. It was after 4:00 and I was getting tired. I also didn’t want to push too many activities into one day. We both looked up the coordinates to the nearest underground. Of course with him using an Apple product and me, using an Android application, we eventually found our way to the Green Park station.

We had quite a discussion about which train to catch. We eventually decided upon the Victoria line. Though we missed our stop and had to backtrack so we could get off at Kings Cross, then take another line to the station nearby to our flat.

We found our flat was a little cooler than last yesterday, but still neede time to cool off. He went out to find his dinner and I ate the leftover chicken noodle soup that I made yesterday. Then took a nap.

When he returned from his dinner he did more research about where he would like to go tomorrow and I continued to watch The Crown. Until he told me, I didn’t realize that he had watched The Crown and also Victoria. From there we had plenty to talk about.

While he did his reserach, I watched a couple of episodes of The Crown and he commented every so often. I had no idea he would enjoy this series as much as I did.

Nice to sleep in a cooler flat. Tomorrow we are visiting the Tower of London (only as a drive by, not to go in) and Tower Bridge, the Borough Market, Globe Theater, and the Tate Modern. And who knows what else in between. Thankful to visit places I hadn’t see before. Should be fun.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Thursday, 24 May 2018

London, England (198 St. John Street, Clerkenwell)

Today I’m expecting Cousin Craig to arrive. His plane is scheduled to arrive at Heathrow at 11:45 a.m. Since I haven’t heard that he missed his plane, I’ll assume that he is on his way.

Before his arrival, I finished unpacking, made sure all my laundry was washed and put away, and fixed chicken noodle soup for lunch. I don’t expect him until 3:00 p.m.

At around 3:30 I received a text letting me know that he made it to the nearby Kings Cross Station. He has asked if I’d like to meet him at a place named the Caravan, located near the station. After a moment I said I’d walk over there and join him for a beer.

The walk to meet him got me out to see a part of London that was new to me. I especially enjoyed walking along one of the nearby canals. At last I saw Cousin Craig waving to me from outside the Caravan, located at Granary Square, a new development next to Kings Cross.

We sat there enjoying a beer and got caught up before walking over to the station to hail a taxi that would take us to the flat. On the way from Granary Square we saw a number of bars with local young professionals enjoying a drink with their friends and co-workers.

After Craig dropped off his suitcase he wanted to find a place to eat and walk around the neighborhood. This was his first trip to London and everything was new to him. I find it interesting to watch people who are new to the city and understand what they find of interest.

Craig found a Vietnamese restaurant where we ordered dinner. From there we walked around the neighborhood. We noticed a number of bars and pubs that were packed with people. It seemed like there was some neighborhood event. We learned that it was an annual design convention and people in the home design industry were partying at many of the local venues. I happened to mention to Craig that people in most parts of the U.K. like to drink. Perhaps he figured this out already.

After walking around for nearly an hour we decided it was time to return to the flat. I could tell that Craig was getting very tired. I was surprised that he rested for maybe 15 minutes then was ready to walk around the neighborhood some more. I said I would stay at the flat. He returned after about 30 minutes before he started to unpack.

The flat was still very warm and we had opened all of the windows to cool it down. It eventually got cool enough when we decided to get to sleep. He took the bedroom that had an adjoining bathroom and I took the other bedroom.

Tomorrow is still somewhat open. I’ll wait to hear what Craig finds interesting and we will being to explore London. I look forward to finding new places to visit.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Bratislava, Slovakia (DoubleTree by Hilton, Bratislava)

I had planned to start to prepare for my trip to London at 5:00 a.m. but fate had other plans for me. I woke at around 4:00 a.m. and saw the message light on my phone blinking. It was from Cousin Craig who said his plane took off without him, so he will not be arriving in London later today. As a result of this news, I didn’t get any more sleep. The good news is that I had more time to get ready to leave by 6:00 a.m., per my plan that I documented in yesterday’s posting.

For me, I’ll just continue on as planned and will look forward to receiving confirmation later in the day from Craig when he has his flight re-scheduled.

I was down at the hotel’s front desk checking out at 6:00 a.m. A taxi was called by the hotel for my ride to the train station. The taxi showed up in five minutes and was at the train station about 10 minutes later. Last night I had purchased a ticket for the trip to Vienna on-line and looked for a ticket machine at the station that would print the ticket for me. Then I noticed that there were no OBB machines, so I then read my confirmation email from OBB which stated that I can print my ticket at any of the OBB machines, located in Austria. And I was in Slovakia. As a result I needed to purchase a new ticket at the station. It was made very clear to me that only paper tickets are accepted.

After I purchased my ticket, I found the train was already waiting at the platform, so I boarded and waited for the journey to Vienna to begin. The train made a number of stops along the way and we arrived on time an hour later at the Vienna Train Station.

The taxi ride was a little more expensive going to the airport than my trip from the airport to the train station in Vienna a few days earlier. This was due to a surcharge added to the fare for the taxi driver to return to the Vienna city center. I tried not to get frustrated with this trip’s additional costs. The purchase of the replacement ticket for the train and the surcharge for the taxi.

As a result of my early start, I had plenty of time at the airport to have a cup of coffee and a small breakfast sandwich at Burger King. (Yes, I looked to see if there was a McDonald’s.)

I decided that I should start the process of going through Passport Control and Security and get those tasks out of the way. The guy at the Passport Control booth was looking through my passport to find out when I last entered the Schengen Area (26 countries that have abolished formal passports for member countries, mainly those who belong to the EU). My passport is now becoming filled with stamps and I’ve noticed that the Passport Control people either give up and stamp my passport or try to find out when I last entered the Schengen Area.

I then looked for the Security checkpoint and didn’t find it until I walked up to the gate. This is the first airport that I’ve been to where the security checkpoint was at each of the gates and not a centrally located area within the airport.

Eventually we all got on the plane and were in the air and on our way to London. I put my carry on bag in the overhead above my seat before I took my seat. After we took off and given the all clear that we can move around, I went to get the water bottle and a snack I put in the bag before we left the terminal. I noticed that the bag was wet and realized that the cabin pressure on take off probably caused the water bottle to leak. Almost everything in the bag was wet. Another lesson learned for me today.

All went well going through the various steps at London’s Gatwick airport and was on the Gatwick Express headed toward London’s Victoria Station. I confirmed that I could easily get to Kings Cross Station on the Victoria line’s northbound train. Once at Kings Cross, I’ll decide whether to take the underground to the Airbnb flat or a taxi. When I arrived at Kings Cross I saw a number of announcements saying that all of the lines going through the station were experiencing significant delays. Guess that means I’ll take a taxi since it was getting close to 2:30, the time when I was to meet the Airbnb host.

I was in luck getting the taxi that I did. The driver was familiar with the area where the Airbnb flat was located and we were at the flat in less than 15 minutes, meaning that my fare was going to be less that I expected.

The Airbnb host was waiting for me when I arrived and he showed me around his flat. He had secured a wifi hotspot that would be a substitute for the lack of wifi in the flat and also no cable TV. He also mentioned that there was a leak in the floor of one of the bathrooms that had gone into the flat below and asked that we not use the shower in that bathroom until he has made the necessary repairs. Everything else checked out okay and I was in good shape when he left.

After looking around in the kitchen I decided I should visit the nearby Waitrose and pick up some food so I will have dinner tonight and breakfast in the morning. The store was about a block away and I found everything I needed. Of course I bought a chicken to roast for dinner. Also bought a sandwich because I was hungry right now.

I figured out the washer and got a load started then took a nap after I ate my tuna with sweet corn sandwich. The oven was a little more complicated than the washer and had to Google the owner’s manual to understand how to set the oven to roast the chicken.

After answering some texts, one was from Cousin Craig who confirmed his arrival tomorrow at 11:45 a.m., and made a call to my friend Csabi who was working outside of London. By the time I made dinner, did the laundry, and started to unpack it was after 9:30. I watched a couple of episodes of The Crown before heading off to bed.

Since Craig isn’t here, I tried out both beds to see if I preferred one over the other. I did.

Tomorrow I’ll make my usual chicken noodle soup and wait for Craig to arrive. I’ll keep the rest of the day open to see what he wants to do, if anything. It is a long trip from Seattle and I’m sure he will be tired.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Bratislava, Slovakia (DoubleTree by Hilton, Bratislava)

I must be getting lazy. I really only had two things that I wanted to do today. First, to mail the two birthday gifts that I prepared for mailing last night and second, to get a haircut.

The first was sort of easy to do. I now knew where the nearest post office was. It just took a bit longer to communicate with the woman at the post office who was helping me with the postage for the packages. I left each of the packages open in case there was a rule that the post office has the right to inspect what is being mailed. (Happened to me in Dublin.) The woman said no additional tape was necessary to seal each of the packages, so I went on faith that she was correct. Now, the question is how long it will take for each of the packages to be received in the U.S. We will see…

Next up was finding a place to get my hair cut. It had been almost a month since I last got it cut. When I was in London at the end of April. The treatment on my scalp left that part of my head looking rather grim. The lotion attacks the potential cancer and turns it red. I didn’t want to get my hair cut until my head looked more normal so to not gross out whoever was cutting my hair.

But, where to get a haircut? I Googled “barber” and found some places in the immediate vicinity. The first few I couldn’t find. I eventually found a salon that had set up shop in a sport complex next to public tennis courts. No one in the salon spoke very good English, but they understood (probably by looking at my scraggly hair) what I wanted. The young woman who was assigned to cut my hair did a good job overall. Nothing fancy, but got all of the hairs cut. I was happy.

And that was about all I wanted to do. I really didn’t have much interest in exploring more of the city. I was now getting concerned about making all the connections tomorrow that would get me to London and the Airbnb flat that I had rented. When I returned to my hotel room, I mapped out each of the steps and developed a quick timeline to ensure that I could make each connection.

Here is my list that will get from Bratislava to Vienna, to London, and to Airbnb Flat:
1). Pack suitcase
2). Check out of hotel
3). Take taxi to train station and make sure I’m going to the right station.
4). Get ticket for the correct train that would get me to Vienna’s main station
5). Board train to Vienna
6). Find taxi at Vienna train station that will take me to airport
7). Check in with airline at the Vienna Airport
8). Go through Passport Control
9). Go through Security
10). Board Plane
11). Arrive at London’s Gatwick Airport
12). Go through Passport Control
13). Get suitcase in baggage area
14). Go to the Gatwick train station and buy a Gatwick Express ticket to London
15). Find the next Gatwick Express train going to London’s Victoria Station
16). Board train
17). Confirm how to get from Victoria Station to Kings Cross Station
18). Take underground or taxi from station to Airbnb flat and arrive by 2:30

I could have time-boxed each step, but I kind of know how long each step can take. We will see tomorrow how this plan works out.

Last night for dinner I ordered a tomato-based linguine from the hotel’s room service. It was okay, but not very filling. For tonight, what the heck. I walked over to McDonald’s and picked up a couple of cheeseburgers. I enjoyed the evening walk to and from McDonald’s.

Tomorrow I’m planning to get up at 5:00 a.m. and be out of the hotel by 6:00 a.m. This evening, I started to re-watch The Crown. That will get me in the mood for my trip to London.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

Monday, 21 May 2018

Bratislava, Slovakia (DoubleTree by Hilton, Bratislava)

I woke up to sunshine! A beautiful day to explore Bratislava and I was ready. After breakfast and a shower I was out the door and on my way. All I knew is that I was headed toward Bratislava’s old town. On the way, I stopped by the local mall to see if there was a post office there, and there was. I was hoping they would have packing material for sale at the post office and they didn’t. While walking around today I’ll look for a shop that sells padded envelopes.

I had several routes, according to my phone’s GPS, to get me to the old town of the city. I selected a route that would keep me in the shade the longest. I took a few pictures along the way. The architecture in Bratislava isn’t as dramatic and impressive as in Prague, but many of the older buildings are in fairly good shape. Streets were not crowded at all, either with cars or pedestrians.

I came across Church Blumental and saw that it is in the process of being renovated. I took a picture of the church, as it was, and also the statue across the street. It was a great place to stop and rest before walking forward to old town.

Along the way I found a stationery shop that had just what I was looking for. I bought the padded envelops and was on my way. The old town of Bratislava is not large as Prague, but is in great shape and has many interesting shops and buildings. I saw the castle in the distance and decided that I could always come back tomorrow if I felt like I wanted to see it.

On the way back to the hotel I took a different route. As I was walking along I tripped and almost fell. I walked back to see what it was, since I’m careful to watch my step. It turns out there was a lump, about the size of a golf ball, in the pavement. I could see why I missed it because it blended in with the pavement around it. Now, to see if I can still walk. I kept walking and I felt okay, but knew that something was a little off, but not causing any problems.

As I walked I didn’t feel any problems with any of my joints and kept positive that I’ll be fine. Before I got back to the hotel, I stopped by the Starbucks at the mall and ordered an iced latte and a yogurt. What a great way to enjoy the day and people watch.

When I got back to my room I saw that I walked almost 15,000 steps. I was happy with what I saw today and feel that I’m getting accustomed to Bratislava after a couple of days.

I sent a text to my cousin Glenn who should be settled by now in his lodgings in England. (Yes, I’ll have two cousins from different sides of the family visiting London at the same time.) He is visiting the southwestern end of England in Penzance. He sent me back a picture of his dinner – fish and chips. Looks like he is doing fine. Though, he isn’t planning on visiting London so I doubt if I’ll see him when I’m in London later this week.

After dinner I heard from Cousin Craig who will be arriving in London on Wednesday. We are coordinating where we will meet up on Wednesday. Though, I still need to plan my trip on Wednesday that will take me by train to Vienna and then on the plane to London.

Tomorrow I plan to mail my two packages and get a haircut. My last haircut was in London almost a month ago. The weather tomorrow calls for rain, so I’ll see what actually happens after I wake up. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the good weather that I’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE