We’ve said our goodbyes to the ship (at the most unreasonable hour of 6:50 AM), made our way down the gangway, collected our luggage and grabbed a taxi from the port into Southampton proper. At the bus station we find that we are a little earlier than we had planned. It’s going to be at least 40 minutes before the station opens and another 40 minutes before our bus to London arrives. Thank goodness it’s already about 15c with the sun shining so conditions are at least bearable.
Finally our bus arrives and thank goodness my Dear Wife had the forethought to purchase preassigned seats. This gave us a much preferred position near the front of the bus. I felt only a small measure of guilt as we asked the two people, who had already taken our seats, to allow us to sit. They muttered something about not knowing about booking a seat ahead of time. My guilt disappeared.
About 2.5 hours and several chapters into a new book later, we arrived at Victoria Station, London. Another taxi to our Best Western hotel and in we go.
Over time we have amassed a number of ‘loyalty’ points with a variety of different organizations. Getting something back in return does (eventually) have benefits and this time those came in the form of Best Western travel dollars. The beating that our CDN dollar has taken against the British Pound, however, turned $300 CDN into only £176. That worked out to about a night and a half. Somewhat better than a kick in the bum.
Due to our early arrival at the hotel, our room is not yet ready. The reception staff are happy to store our luggage so it seemed like a good idea to at least explore a little of the surrounding area. Tomorrow and Wednesday are fully tour-booked already so knowing where we need to go and how to get there is probably prudent.
It’s lunch time as we make our way, walking down Earl’s Court Road. The weather has gotten even better, the sun is out and the temp now about 21c. I say this quietly hoping I don’t jinx us. Whether it is an indication or not remains to be seen, but around here there are certainly no shortage of restaurants, fast food and otherwise. It’s easy to see why the food industry in the UK generates about £90 billion a year.
After a small lunch we continue our walk, making our way down to Kensington High Street. As our footsteps approach this rather affluent area, my eyes take in the Maserati, the Jaguar and the 3 Bentley’s we pass. These are all parked in front yard driveways. That’s really a rather simplistic description as the front yard IS the driveway, or at least 80% of it. Beside any of the vehicles there may be 2 – 3 meters of room (covered in plants and/or grass) and absolutely no room between the edge of the car and the sidewalk. Some have backed in which must be a challenge given the busy nature of the one way street we’re on. Having said that it must be equally problematic to back out, especially if your car is worth £150,000 or more.
A longer walk down Kensington will wait for another day. Right now it’s on the transit bus to go back to our hotel, get into our room and rest for a bit. Tonight we’re going to stretch our legs once again on a 2 hour London Walk, which is exactly what it sounds like. This is a famous walking tour company that has been doing tours since 1968 (now 50 years!). Having done one the last time we were in London, the decision was made then that, if we return, we’ll do another. This evening we learn what is known about Jack The Ripper – ‘he came silently out of the midnight shadows of August 31, 1888…’.
I’ll do my best to post an update to our investigation later tonight.