a Cheap Holiday

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Rubber Ball trip, Day 1 (events originally occured on Oct. 1): Cheerio pip pip from Londinium! The flight over was fairly uneventful, though I was able to get very little sleep (even with the Tylenol PM) due to the incredibly crowded nature of coach class on British Airways. Though frankly, even coach class on BA is light years better than coach class on any American air carrier. However, it does make one quite green with envy to walk past those full-length lounge seats in first class. Someday I'll fly first class in one of those lovely loungers.

Having been to London once before made the whole ordeal of getting onto the subway for the ride over to Bloomsbury much less daunting. Though Londoners view the "tube" as crowded and overpriced, it is simply the fastest and easiest way to travel long distances in London. Kali had warned me that the tube ride from Heathrow to Bloomsbury was going to take an hour and I thought she had been joshing. But, per my handy wristwatch, it was indeed an hour's trip. I got off at Holborn station, quickly consulted the neighborhood street map in the tube station, then set off to find the hotel.

What I quickly discovered was that the hotel had been improperly listed by the booking website. For our hotel was not to be found at 36 Bloomsbury Way, as stated by my reservations confirmation. I took a moment to step into the Thistle Bloomsbury Hotel (which is located at 36 Bloomsbury Way) to ask the doorman where I could find the Gresham Hotel. In an accent as thick as breakfast bacon, he gurgled some directions that I could not make out. I politely said thank you and then set off in the general direction he had pointed. At least I was in the right district, how hard could this be?

Amazingly enough, I had been able to intuit more of the doorman's directions than I thought, because I came upon the Gresham Hotel at 36 Bloomsbury Street fairly quickly. Checkin was completed by a nice Italian clerk. I happily bounded off to the room.

Another insight that my previous trip to London provided was the understanding that hotel rooms in London for under £100 are not at all posh. They are clean. They are serviceable. But they are not luxurious. The fact that we had a private bathroom in the hotel room was about as posh as it was going to get. However, it was a room facing the back of the building, which meant we would be shielded from considerable street noise. I organized my luggage and then took a much needed hot shower.

I was quite distressed to be unable to locate a telephone in the room. I had chosen this hotel precisely because it advertised in-room direct dialing and after the telecommunications debacle of our last London trip, this had been a huge consideration. I stopped at the front desk on my way out to scrounge some lunch and made mention of this. The lovely Italian desk clerk assured me a telephone would be present upon my return, though it would be a day before switchboard repairs would be complete and we would be able to dial out. Oh well, as long as we got service before the other members of Kali's entourage arrived in the city, we could make do.

After lunch, I tried to take a brief nap. Not long afterwards, the clerk rang the room (on our newly acquired telephone!) to inform me that Kali had arrived. Knowing that she would be hauling around tremendous amounts of luggage, I quickly scampered to the lobby to assist. She relayed to me the great pains she had undergone to locate the hotel as well, though she had done so from the relative comfort of a taxi. However, she had had to navigate the tube station's escalators only with the tremendously kind assistance of a passerby.

After some catching up, we headed towards Russell Square to have a nosh and a pint at her favorite pub, The Swan. According to Kali, having mixed drinks in London is a ripoff--they're weak and overpriced. Much better to have the local cider, which is still quite strong and easier on the wallet. I surprised myself by having two pints and then almost immediately feeling sleepy. The jet lag was catching up now, time to "kip off," as the locals say.


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