London to Paris by Bus!

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today (August 10, 2014), we took a bus, MegaBus to be exact, from London to Paris. It was a trip we were certainly looking forward to but things did not go exactly as planned. Read on!

Deal of the Century?

Before we get started, I’d like to brag, just a little, about the screaming deal we got on our tickets for this London to Paris journey.

As you know, we always do a lot of research for any trip we take and that included the cheapest most economical way to get from London to Paris.

While doing this research we came upon MegaBus who, as you may or may not know, is a master at offering a few seats at ridiculously low prices – just a few, mind you. But, you have to know when the tickets are first offered and you have to be quick on the draw.

I had been watching their site for a while, waiting for our date to come up. And, when it did, I pounced! I snagged us two tickets to Paris for the TOTAL price of £10.50! That was £5.00/each and a 50p online booking fee. When I checked their site again, just an hour later, the same seats were now £40.00/each.

I was so blown away by the deal we got that I actually called MegaBus to confirm that the price actually included BOTH of us AND our luggage and that the total amount was correct. They assured me it was correct and congratulated us on the deal we got.

How Were We Going to Take a Bus to Paris?

Well, when booking this trip, it was not clear exactly how the bus was going to get to Paris. We knew there were two choices, the Chunnel or the Ferry. We had no idea which way we would be going and figured, either way, it would be an adventure.

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, so let’s get back to the beginning of this day’s adventure.

Up Very, Very Early

In order to get to London in time to catch our bus, we determined that we had to take the 7:30am train leaving from Longfield.

We packed as much as we could the night before and set the alarm to give us enough time to have a shower and a light breakfast.

Much to our delight, one of the people we had met during our stay offered to drive us to the train station. That meant we didn’t have to worry about calling a cab. And, true to his word, he was ready and waiting for us in plenty of time to get us to the station.

I am quite certain that the instructions on our tickets said to be at the station two hours before departure. As our scheduled departure was 10:30am, that meant, of course, we were expected to be there by 8:30am. And, we were pretty much on time.

However, when we tried to check in, we were told that the check in process for the Paris bus would not begin until 9:30am. What? That was only an hour before. The clerk just shrugged her shoulders and told us to come back at 9:30.

Chaos at Victoria Coach Station

Any other experiences we’ve had with using Victoria Coach Station have been somewhat disorganized but, for some reason, today was downright chaotic and extremely overcrowded.

We were being jostled and bumped into on a regular basis and finding any place to sit appeared to be an exercise in futility.

There were no clear lines for any of the scheduled buses, no consistent use of gate numbers and any announcements were, to our ears anyway, too garbled to comprehend.

Scheduled Departure Time Came and Went

After checking in at the appropriate time, we once again settled in to wait – as much as we could, anyway. The crowds just kept growing and no one seemed to be leaving. We’re amazed that tempers weren’t flaring at this point, but most people, though disgruntled, were keeping their cool.

When our scheduled departure time came and went, we went back to the ticket clerk to get an update. We were told there was a delay but they couldn’t be specific as to how long the delay would be.

Bicycle Race Through London

After talking with fellow travelers we discovered that, of all days, today there was a London-wide bicycle race and most of the major thoroughfares were closed off with lots of detours causing lots of road congestion. Wonderful!

But we remained hopeful that we would get on our way soon and get to Paris at a reasonable time. Silly us.

Finally on Our Way – Sort Of

After a more than two-hour delay, we finally were directed to our bus. It didn’t pull up to one of the gates. We were lead to our bus, parked a few yards away from the terminal.

And, we had to be paying attention to the muffled announcements and the constantly changing gate information or we could have easily still been waiting!

Bus Trouble

When we finally pulled away from the station, within just a few feet, the bus stalled. Our driver promptly restarted the bus only to have it stall again after only another few feet.

At this point, a collective groan issued from most of the passengers and the driver, also, seemed frustrated and annoyed.

Thankfully, after the third restart, the bus remained running and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Missed Our Appointment on the Chunnel Train

Because of the delays, we had, apparently, missed our bus’s scheduled appointment for our spot on the Chunnel train. The driver had no choice but to wait until we were rescheduled for another available spot.

He had no idea when that might be so we were cautioned not to venture too far from the bus in case we got a spot and had to move quickly. When he did finally get notified of our appointment, it was almost a two-hour wait.

We were beginning to get concerned about when we would actually make it to Paris. We knew that the hotel we had booked did not have a 24-hour front desk.

Loading the Bus on the Chunnel Train

Never having experienced the trip through the Chunnel, we were uncertain as to what to expect. Would we all have to exit the bus and, perhaps, pick up another bus when we arrived in France?

We were assured by the driver that this bus would take us all the way to Paris.

We watched in fascination as we approached the train and other cars, trucks, campers vans and more loaded before we did.

The train cars are huge! And our bus didn’t even take up an entire train car. We’re still in awe of how they were loaded in the first place, just driving on from the station platform onto the train. I was certain there was no way that our bus was going to make it.

But, of course, it did. All I can say is I’m sure glad I wasn’t driving. It would have seriously freaked me out.

Check out this video of our bus getting loaded into the train car and being unloaded in France.

 

Welcome to France

A mere 35 minutes later we were in France and the whole unloading exercise went without a hitch and was totally efficient.

It’s obvious that they do this several times a day and they certainly have it down to a science.

No Customs or Immigration

We have marveled before at how there are no customs or immigration requirements as we traveled throughout the EU. We simply got on the train in the UK and got off in France. And, it would be like that the whole time. And we would travel through France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark and even Malta, Tunisia and The Azores (Portugal).

Are We There Yet?

Now that we were finally in France (already well past the time we should have already been in Paris), we assumed that we would make a bee-line to Paris and attempt to make up some of the lost time. Sadly, making up the time, did not appear to be a priority.

Driver Change

Only a short distance into France, we pulled off into a gas station. Because of all the delays, our driver had used up his allotted time for that day and we would need a replacement driver, who was waiting for us at this gas station.

The hand-off was relatively quick and painless, but it was still another delay.

More Stops/Delays

At our next stop, Boulogne, we dropped off one of the passengers at the designated stop. However, after that, we made another stop – still in Boulogne – to pick up another passenger and to drop off our previous driver.

And, as if we weren’t already late enough, we then made an unscheduled detour to drop off the person we had picked up in Boulogne. No idea why we needed to do that, or why it was even allowed.

Lights on the Horizon

From then on, each time we saw lights on the horizon we hoped that maybe, just maybe, we were approaching Paris.

Our hopes we dashed many times during the journey.

Welcome to Paris

At almost 1:00am, we FINALLY arrived in Paris. That was SEVEN hours late.

The original plan was to take a local bus to our hotel. We had, naturally, researched the local system and even knew which bus to take. It would take us about 30 minutes and get us very close to our hotel.

However, at this time in the morning, nothing appeared to be running. The “bus station” didn’t even appear to be a station, just a place where buses were parked.

Call to Our Hotel

We weren’t traveling with a cell phone on this trip so I asked our bus driver if we could borrow his cell phone so we could call our hotel to see if they were even still open. We knew they didn’t have a 24-hour front desk, but we had expected to arrive in Paris much, much earlier than this.

The driver was happy to let us use his phone, thank goodness.

We were ecstatic when someone actually picked up the phone and it took all of the French I know to get across where we were and to find out that the front desk clerk was just about to close up.

We promised we would get a cab right away and be there within half an hour, or so. He said he would wait if we didn’t take too long.

MegaBus Driver’s Promise

The driver promised us that MegaBus would reimburse us for the cost of the cab to get to our hotel as we had arrived so late.

Not only did MegaBus do that, they also refunded the cost of our tickets. Great customer service. We would definitely use them again as, we’re sure, these delays were a freak occurrence and out of their control.

Cab to Hotel

We had to do a little walking from the bus station to a busy corner in order to hail a cab, but we got one in short order, showed the driver the address of the hotel and arrived within the timeframe we had given the front desk clerk.

Happy to Check In

We were so happy to find that, true to his word, the clerk was indeed waiting for us. And, promptly locked up after he check us in.

We had made it! We were in Paris!

Final Two Days in the U.K.

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, (August 8 & 9, 2014)  we had our last two days in the U.K for this trip.

Our 26th Anniversary

Friday, August 8th, was our 26th wedding anniversary. We had planned to walk into Longfield again today, to pick up our laundry and to have our anniversary dinner at – yes – Monroe’s.

Sadly, the weather had other plans for that day.

The rain started at about 8:00am and came down in buckets for quite a while. After that, it settled in for the rest of the day.

Spirits Not Dampened

However, we didn’t allow the weather to dampen our spirits and spent a relaxing day reading and enjoying the hot tub.

We did resolve, however, no matter what the weather was like the next day (Saturday), we simply had to go into Longfield to pick up our laundry. After all, we were leaving very early on Sunday morning to catch the MegaBus that would take us to Paris. Yes, we were taking a BUS to Paris! Be sure to read of August 10th blog post for how we did that.

Anniversary Dinner

Instead of the lovely dinner fare we had hoped for on our anniversary, we had to content ourselves with a not unpleasant, but plain, dinner of sausage, chips and salad. As we said earlier, the small restaurant where we were staying had a basic, but limited repertoire. But we enjoyed it, nonetheless.

Rain Continued Throughout the Night and Into the Next Morning

We began to get a little worried about the required trip into Longfield on Saturday as the rain continued right through Friday night and was still there to greet us on Saturday morning, although with much less fervor.

It finally began to clear and just after lunch we felt it was safe to make our way into town.

Our Favorite British Fare

Some of our favorite British Fare
Some of our favorite British Fare

While in the UK we indulged in some of our favorite British products. Some we even packed away to take home with us.

We both enjoy Digestive Biscuits and just had to get the ones that came in their own tin. These digestive tins have now become a decoration in our kitchen and, as we couldn’t resist eating all the biscuits, now hold spaghetti.

Geoff has always LOVED Marmite, so when he discovered this HUGE jar he just couldn’t resist. He decided that this was a collectors item and would lovingly carry his prized possession, unopened, all through Europe and across the Atlantic.

Sadly the Geoff/Marmite love affair came to a tragic end in Los Angeles, but you’ll have to wait until the November 3rd post to read the devastating story of how it all ended.

Laundry and Dinner

We had phoned the laundry to make sure they were open regular hours on Saturday and, fortunately, they were. We said we’d stop by that afternoon to pick up our laundry and they confirmed that it was ready and waiting for us. Good thing, too, because we were off to Paris the next day and we needed our clean clothes!

As our plans to have our anniversary dinner at Monroe’s last night were thwarted by the weather, we decided that tonight, our last night in the U.K., would be just as appropriate.

Although we no longer recall what it was we ordered that night, we are quite sure it was good as we never had a bad meal any time we ate there.

Encounters with Royalty at Hampton Court

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, (August 7, 2014) we visited Hampton Court and had encounters with royalty!

Last Chance to Get Our Laundry Done

As we would be leaving the UK in just a few days – on August 10th to be exact – this trip into Longfield would be our last chance to take in our laundry and have it ready for our fast-approaching departure to France via the Chunnel.

We won’t go into the somewhat perilous walk into Longfield (oops! actually, I guess we just did). But it was without event or injury and our laundry was safely deposited at the cleaners.

Train – Tube – Train to Hampton Court

Arriving at Hampton Court
Arriving at Hampton Court

With our two-together rail pass in hand, we bought our tickets to get us to Hampton Court, where we would spend the day.

It was a train to London Victoria Station, then the tubes to Vauxhall and then, for the final leg, a train to Hampton Court.

Hampton Court is just a short and pleasant walk from the train station and the entrance is very impressive.

Once we had arrived at Hampton Court, we needed to queue up in order to get our official tickets to actually enter the court.

There was, of course, the obligatory gift shop – for your convenience as you wait.

Various Types of Architecture

Hampton Court has some competing architecture. That happened because it was first started by Henry VIII, but when William & Mary came to the throne of England, they had different ideas and built to their tastes.

Originally, they had planned to undo everything Henry had done and replace it with their own vision. Fortunately, it was prohibitively expensive to pursue such a goal, and much that Henry built has survived, along with what William and Mary built.

Encounter with Henry VIII

An encounter with Henry VIII at Hampton Court
An encounter with Henry VIII at Hampton Court

While wandering the myriad halls of Hampton Court, we had the distinct pleasure of coming across Henry VIII discussing, I believe, one of his women, and what he needed to do about her.

His minister, who was walking along with him, was trying to be as helpful as possible, but Henry seemed particularly distraught. We all watched with fascination as they worked through their problem before wandering off down the hallway still deep in conversation.

It was a truly amazing experience with Henry and his minister staying in character for the entire encounter. It was fascinating to watch and to listen and to feel like a part of history.

And, as luck would have it, this would not be our only encounter with royalty while at Hampton Court.

The Gardens

Hampton Court Gardens Map
Hampton Court Gardens Map

The gardens at Hampton Court are – in a word – amazing! Perfectly manicured, incredibly tranquil and totally enjoyable.

We happened upon some of the groundskeepers and were able to chat with them for a while. Needless to say, upkeep of such extensive gardens is a full-time job, but what a remarkable result. Obviously a labor of love more than just a job.

The Maze

Naturally, we did the maze as well, expecting full well to get lost. We understand that there are people available to lead you out if you do, indeed, get lost.

However, we didn’t actually find the maze that difficult and were able to get through it in a reasonable time.

Our Second Encounter with Royalty

Our second encounter with royalty happened while we were walking in the gardens.

George II and his minister were ambling along a path, discussing matters of state, we presume. We were able to approach them and speak to them both for quite some time.

Again, these actors remained totally in character the entire time and provided us with an unforgettable experience and memory of our day “at court”.

Dinner at Monroe’s

To top off the day, we finished with yet another dinner at our favorite restaurant in Longfield – Monroe’s.

A Perfect Day – Windsor Castle, Bath, Stonehenge And Fish & Chips

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today (August 5, 2014) we had what can only be described as the perfect day. Read on to find out why.

Early Morning Train Into London

In order to meeting the tour bus at Victoria Coach Station, we had to get up very early. The bus would be leaving at 8:30am and we needed to be there to meet it at least 15 minutes prior to that.

Up at 4:00am

In order to make it all happen so that we could be at the tour bus in time, we had to be up at 4:00am to get showered and dressed. We then started our walk into Longfield at 5:45am in order to catch the right train into London.

No Rail Pass Discount Today

This was the only day that our Two Together Rail Pass was of no use to us. Anytime before about 9:30am is considered “peak” time, so we just had to bite the bullet and pay full fare on this day.

Meeting The Tour Bus

Had we been staying at a hotel in London, the tour company would have picked us up at our hotel. However, that was not the case and we need to get ourselves to Victoria Coach Station. The Coach Station is about a 10-15 minute walk from the train station, but we had coordinated everything correctly and we arrived at the tour bus in plenty of time.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

The first stop on our day-long tour was at Windsor Castle.

On this type of tour, trying to fit so many things in on a single day, generally there isn’t enough time at each stop.

We had to line up and wait for our tour guide to procure our entrance tickets and the line was already quite long when we joined it. However, it didn’t seem like a long wait before we had our tickets and were exploring the castle.

Windsor castle is actually a royal residence and has pretty much been so since it was first built in the 11th century. Queen Elizabeth II was not, however, in residence when we visisted.

Some of the sheer opulence amazed us – a rather obscene display of wealth but that seemed to be the norm of such sites that we visited, including the Tower of London where we saw the crown jewels.

We did our best to hit the highlights within the allotted time we were given at this site and easily found our way back to the waiting tour bus thanks to the clear instructions given by our tour guide.

Bath

Roman Baths, Bath
Roman Baths, Bath

The town of Bath, located in Somerset in Southwest England is a quaint town that maintains its look with strict building codes.

Most of the houses and buildings use the tan-colored stone and the entire town has the same “feel”.

Of course, Bath is most famous for the excavated Roman baths and that was the main reason we wanted to visit.

Some of the excavated areas are amazingly well preserved, but there are still many places where you can see the areas that have been less restored. The site itself is fairly large and we enjoyed wandering through the ruins for the short time we were there.

From time to time you’ll actually get a “Roman” explaining the history of the baths and we would pause to listen.

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

OH! MY! GOODNESS!

I was not prepared for my reaction to Stonehenge. Geoff, who had been there several times as a child, had always, jokingly, referred to it as “just a pile of rocks.”

As soon as I saw it I was totally overwhelmed and even began to cry. I believe it is the closest I have ever come to a truly spiritual experience. I have always been drawn to older structures, ancient history, etc. but this is the first time I have come face to face with something so awesome (and I do not mean the glib “awesome” we all use too often. I am using the true meaning of the word – that which creates awe.) and so ancient – 5,000 years old!

Show Some Respect!

Given how affected I was by Stonehenge, I’m afraid I did not handle well the people that were treating it like it was just another attraction. As we passed some teenagers, that were barely even looking at Stonehenge, I got annoyed at the fact that they were laughing, roughhousing and munching on crisps (potato chips). I’m afraid I lost it a little bit and grumbled, “For goodness sake, show some respect! This is 5,000 years old!” I doubt they even heard me, or would have cared if they did.

That’s so sad.

Not Nearly Enough Time

I didn’t want to leave. I was already planning a return, somewhere off in the future, and hoping to be there for one of the solstices when they actually allow a certain number of people INSIDE the stone circle.

There is also much, much more to the area than just Stonehenge, but we had no time to explore. We had to get back to the bus. But, not before spending some time in the museum at the entrance and, the inevitable, gift shop.

Last Ones Back

Geoff can attest to the fact that I’m always the one trying to make sure that, on any trip like this, we’re always back to the bus on time. I never want to be the last one. I never want to keep others waiting. I never want to risk missing the bus.

This time was different. Even when we realized we really needed to get back, and we picked up some speed in our step, we were still the last ones back to the tour bus.

Our tour guide had already headed back with everyone else’s self-guided tour electronic recorders and then had to take our’s back separately. (We had been admonished at the beginning of the tour not to return them ourselves but to bring them back to the bus for our tour guide to return.)

Back to London

From Stonehenge it was a straight shot back to London, which took a couple of hours.

With all of these types of tours, they’re always quite happy to pick you up at your hotel (but that didn’t apply in our case as we were staying too far outside of London), but dropping you off was another matter. They would identify a few spots and drop you at the one nearest your hotel.

We had actually picked up the tour bus right at Victoria Coach Station and thought that we would get dropped back there. Apparently that was not the case.

Dropped Off Near Victoria Station

The tour bus dropped us, with a few other people, “close” to Victoria Station. But, as we had already been into London a few times, we had no trouble finding our way back to the train station, which is exactly what we did.

Dinner In Longfield

Late Dinner

It had been a long day and we finally got back to the Longfield Train Station just before 9:00pm. It would be a very late dinner for us tonight.

Monroe’s

Our first stop was, of course, Monroe’s, which had become our favorite restaurant in Longfield. Unfortunately, they were just closing up, which wasn’t too surprising given the time. Fortunately, though, we did know that the local chippy was open until 10:00pm and it was just across the street.

Fish & Chips at the Local Chippy

We wandered across the street to Longfield Fishbar to treat ourselves to some fish & chips.

Even though Geoff noticed that Rock (what he knew as Rock Salmon) was on the menu, after the disappointment experienced in Chiselhurst, we both decided to order Halibut & Chips.

Rock Salmon

While waiting for our order, Geoff spoke with the proprietor of the shop and asked about the Rock Salmon (actually a type of eel). He had heard that it had all been fished out in the UK and, apparently, he was right. The Rock they served now actually came in the from USA. He only served it occasionally because he only offered fresh Rock, not frozen. It was only on the days that it was flown in – once a week or so – that he would have it available. He told Geoff that the Rock he had in Chiselhurst was likely the frozen kind and it just didn’t hold up well frozen.

Geoff also asked why it was now called simply Rock and not Rock Salmon as it was when he was a child. The proprietor explained that that was due to European Union regulations. You weren’t allowed to use the word “salmon” if it wasn’t actually salmon.

Lovely Halibut & Chips

Even though this shop had a couple of sets of tables and chairs outside, it was a bit cool for us and we decided to eat inside instead. There was no thought of us just taking our fish & chips back to the resort as they would have been cold by the time we got back. So, we opted to sit on a couple of chairs inside the shop, with the cardboard box packaged fish & chips on our laps and eat them there with the supplied plastic knives and forks.

Indoor Table and Chairs

The proprietor didn’t like to see us struggle with our meal on our laps, so he brought one of the tables inside for us. He then brought us some real, metal cutlery to use as well and that certainly made it easier to enjoy our lovely fish dinner. He also insisted on supplying us with a couple of bottles of water, on the house.

Wonderful Chat

We also had a very interesting dinner conversation with him. Among many other subjects, we discussed the high cost of housing in the UK and encouraged him to check out Canada for his retirement.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

221B Baker Street, Selfridges, Harrods, Marble Arch and More

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, (August 4, 2014), we spent the day in London taking in many, many sites.

A Full Day of Visiting Many Sights in London

Getting Into London

As has become our habit, we once again walked into the train station in Longfield, a mostly pleasant, but sometimes harrowing forty-minute walk. But we’re still here to tell the tale and, tickets in hand, once again made our way to Victoria Station.

Day Pass

This time, however, we purchased a day pass that would allow us not only to use the rail system but also the underground and bus system, for the entire day. As we planned to cover a lot of territory, we felt this was a wise purchase.

First Stop – 221B Baker Street

221B Baker St
221B Baker Street, London

As almost anyone knows, this address is, of course, the fictional address of the fictional character, Sherlock Holmes.

We arrived to see a long line of people waiting to get in to see the apartments. We actually had no desire to look inside. I was certainly just glad that I was able to find it.

It’s not actually where 221B should be – between, say, 221 and 223, so we got a little confused as to which way we should go on Baker Street once we exited the Tubes. But we managed to find it anyway and take a few photos.

I am now happy to say that I have made my pilgrimage to the home of Sherlock Holmes.

 

Selfridge’s

Selfridge's Selfie
Selfridge’s Selfie

From the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes, it was not a long walk to Selfridge’s.

We actually got a lot of information about this game-changing department store from a TV series, starring Jeremy Piven (one of our favorite actors).

Neither Geoff nor I knew that the person who built Selfridge’s was actually an American and forever changed how shopping was viewed in England.

The store is HUGE and I don’t think we even came close the seeing all of it. That seemed a rather daunting task.

I have always found prices, of just about anything, rather expensive in Europe, but the prices in Selfridge’s were simply astronomical. I couldn’t even bring myself to buy a small memento of my visit because I thought things were so overpriced.

But still, it’s an amazing place to visit.

Harrods

Harrods, London
Harrods, London

Harrods was our next stop and, at this establishment, from everything that I’d heard, I expected ridiculously opulent merchandise and equally ridiculous prices – and I was not disappointed. As with Selfridge’s, there’s a lot of history attached to it.

If you go, make sure you see the Egyptian escalator and the statue devoted to Princess Diana and Dodi el Fayed.

 

 

 

 

Marble Arch

Marble Arch, London
Marble Arch, London

Continuing on, and making good use of our day pass, we visited the Marble Arch at one end of Hyde Park.

Hyde Park

It was time for lunch, and a bit of a break, so we wandered into a Sainsbury’s (grocery store) just across from Hyde Park and bought a couple of savory pastries and something to drink.

We then settled down on a bench in Hyde Park and enjoyed an al fresco lunch and a chance to just sit and relax for a bit before continuing our explorations of London.

Speaker’s Corner

Hyde Park is also the location of London’s famous Speaker’s Corner where anyone can talk about anything they please.

We found the exact location but there was no one espousing their views that day.

Greenwich And The Cutty Sark

Another hop on the Tubes (underground/subway) and we were off to Greenwich and the preserved Cutty Sark, last of the China Tea Clippers.

Just My Luck!

I’m afraid my luck was of the “bad” variety when we boarded the underground to head for Greenwich. I didn’t realize it immediately, but apparently I had chosen a seat where some had spilled coffee. These seats are upholstered, so it wasn’t immediately obvious there had been a spill like there would be if the seats had only been hard plastic like those found on my subways – in Canada, at least.

I didn’t actually realize it until we got up to exit at our Greenwich stop and then felt that my bottom felt a little odd – and damp!

Geoff confirmed that you could, indeed, tell that my shorts were wet. Somewhat embarrassing.

We stopped into a pub, each ordered a cider, and sat until my shorts dried somewhat and the stain was no longer visible.

Actually, I guess I can be grateful that it was just coffee on the seat (at least it had a decidedly coffee aroma to it, thank goodness). I suppose it could have been worse.

After I was less damp, we continued with our outing.

The Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark, Greenwich
Cutty Sark, Greenwich

The Cutty Sark was another of the attractions that offered a two-for-one admission if you had the coupon (available online and printed out) and a rail ticket for that day. Which, of course, we did!

The ship – the original ship restored – not a reproduction – is actually suspended and the lower portion of the hull is surrounded by glass that creates a roof over the displays and cafeteria BELOW the ship.

There are also several interactive displays within the ship itself, explaining the history of it’s voyages and how it came to be in Greenwich.

The Greenwich Observatory

By the time we got to Greenwich and the Cutty Sark, it was late in the afternoon. We could have bought a combined ticket for both the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory, but we didn’t have enough time left to be able to get to the Observatory, which was a shame because we really would have loved to see that, too. Perhaps on our next trip to London.

Back to Longfield – Sort Of

Neither of us is quite sure how it happened, but we obviously picked the wrong train back to Longfield.

Oh, it was going in the right direction, but it must have been an express, or something like that, because it blew right past Longfield taking us into uncharted territory.

We got off at the next stop (Rochester), checked the departure board and found the right platform for the train that would take us back to Longfield.

We explained to the train’s conductor, who was coming around to check tickets, the error we had made and she just smiled, knowingly.

Dinner at Monroe’s

Monroe’s have a wonderful carvery – kind of like a buffet – with several different types of meat – usually beef, pork and turkey – and a huge selection of vegetables. On this particular day, the selection of vegetables included kale, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, green peas, roasted parsnips and carrots.

While we are vegetarian most of the time, it can sometimes be difficult when eating out. So this time we chose the carvery, had a little bit of meat and piled our plates high with the veggies.

There were also sauces and gravy available as well.

The food was good and the prices were reasonable, which is why Monroe’s was quickly becoming our favorite restaurant.