Day 28 – London – Friday 6th September – the last day before we travel.

So, last night we were discussing the trip out to Terminal 4 at Heathrow, the Navigator has a different opinion to Mark and I, but we let it rest and decide to take the gutless track and let somebody like the reception guy clear it up, maybe she’s right, but I think she’s wrong, let’s see. No point poking the tiger so late in the trip.

We’re at Heathrow Terminal 4 now and I’ve got a bit of time to recount the day’s activities. We don’t find out the answer to the above question because we later decide to get a car and not the tube to Heathrow because of Friday peak hour. My goodness aren’t airport terminals exciting places!

This morning we take it a little easy, Mark is going to a haircut at 9.30 but we plan to head up to Kensington Palace when he’s done. A phone call from Mark tells us he’s lost, he missed the barbers and then did a look through the streets and ended up at the totally opposite side of our flat to the barbers, so I go for a walk and find him near Brompton Hospital down in South Kensington and we find another funky looking barber shop South Ken Barber Shop, they do the funky curly wurly moes, all the groovy undercut hair does, beard shaping, just name they do it, two men and two women cutting. Mark gets a good short scissor cut then the cut throat razor shave, and it was cheaper than the other place and they did a great job, so it all worked out well.

We walk back to find the Navigator and then walk up Gloucester Road to Kensington Park and the Serpentine and the Diana Memorial, then the Palace. It’s a nice stroll, the lovely old buildings, the old pubs with flowers hanging outside, the op shops, a sort of village atmosphere in the middle of London. We hit Kensington High Street and cross the road to the gardens, they are green and colourful with all sorts of flowers, quite beautiful and calming to walk through there slowly. We leave some of Tim’s ashes in the beautiful gardens.

A sprinkle of Tim’s ashes going into the Kensington Palace Gardens.

It was a bit of walking and the jumpers were off, the Navigator was huffing and puffing a bit, so we slow down a little before she gets too whingey. When I ask if she’s Ok she says she has a bit of the sniffles. She can’t find what she wants at Kensington Palace shop so her and Mark get the tube into Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace, and are back at the flat in no time, but I’m quicker after a stop in at a little Marks and Spencer food shop in Earls Court.

We have a relaxing late lunch, watch a couple of soppy romantic movies on tv, and chill before the final pack. We decide to book a car to the airport as it’s bedlam on Friday afternoon on the tube, and no seat for the hour trip to Heathrow might bring one of the fellow travellers undone, it’s £60 but it’s 45-60 minutes drive and in the Friday traffic it will be a challenge.

A pile of 44 gallon drums on the Serpentine, art I guess?

Our driver is right on time, a black Mercedes wagon, and we head into the London traffic with Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, Marc’s, Beamers, super bikes lane splitting their way through the traffic, and all sorts of exotic vehicles and drivers.

The checkin goes smoothly, then through the “gates of no return” where my knees set all the bells off, the full search and x ray machine sort it out, but Genelle gets checked after setting the bells off as well, must have been the steely resolution that set it off!

We wait for our gate to come up on the board and finally it’s Gate 11 so we amble down to wait.

As we wait I’ll do a summary of what things we liked, disliked, and could maybe improve on next time.

Some things we liked;

  • Amsterdam, really liked it but not immediately.
  • The Flanders Fields WW1 battlefields – sobering and such a small area and so close to the Somme area in France
  • Ireland – good fun and easy to travel around
  • The gardens of Versailles
  • The Kathmandu backpack/trolley 70 ltr bags – such versatile bags to travel with
  • Lyca SIM cards bought in Dublin – €20 for calls and 35 big of data worked a treat all over Europe. I researched that one. Only used about 5 gig. Phones worked everywhere in Europe. Data is king.
  • Google Maps – with data away from wifi this is a godsend

Some things we didn’t like;

  • Rude ignorant pricks who push into lines, you find them everywhere
  • Trying to find out where train carriages were going to stop on the platform – the Navigator has a small issue with this and may need counselling
  • Bicycles in Holland and Belgium – watch out for them they are killers, much more dangerous than cars, step in front of one and you’ll get the stink eye and the venomous spitting insult.
  • This is just me – but the Irish just like drinkin’ and dancin’ at weddings way to much
  • We were good packers we thought, but there are still about 6-8 pieces of clothing maybe more that didn’t see daylight. Pack less, keep it simple. Jocks, socks 3 shirts, 2 t shirts, 2 long sleeve ts, 1 rain / wind jacket, 1 pair of good walking shoes, iPad, camera, phone to plug overseas sim into, little charger unit, a few toiletries, gps with international maps if your driving anywhere ( we like Tom Tom), 1 book to read on planes and trains ( when read discard and buy a new one), a light easily packable hat of some sort.
  • The amount of tourists and school kids in the main cities, it really slowed after 31 st of August when their summer holidays finished, but I did notice a few Italian accents on kids in London so maybe they have a bit longer. I reckon best time to travel in Europe is October.

Some things we could have improved on;

  • Trains in Europe that link to smaller lines – if the price isn’t too big a difference go First Class as the smaller link train should have a First Class section and you will get a seat, second class you risk not getting a seat if it’s busy line eg Brussels to Brugge.
  • Taxi in Paris from Gare de Lyon, find the official taxi line, otherwise risk finding a rip off driver that will cost you €15-20
  • A bit more language training eg French & German, Mark was starting to get into the groove, Genelle not really interested at all in anything other than English.
  • More common food decisions, two of the travellers have very limited food ranges, and as such they have to decide where to eat as I’ll eat anything.
  • A bit more time in some places, perhaps to be able to do the travel a little slower, we travel hard and fast and there isn’t much down time to just chill.

I’ll add to this when I have a bit more time.

Cheers for the last day of London, the rest will be if anything weird or wonderful happens on the plane trip and I can’t imagine that’s going to happen.

Paul

A f….g swan in the Serpentine! They aren’t only in Brugge?

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