A Travellerspoint blog

Last night in Europe

An evening in London, complete with food that lives up to the British traditions!

View Christmas 2017-2018 on Bill Hall's travel map.

We leave Spain behind.

It’s our last night on the continent and we’re in the hotel lounge. I’m having a coffee and Laurie is having a beer. We’ve pounded the pavement in London this afternoon and walking on that pavement wears me out much more so than when I was young. We’re taking it easy tonight, and tomorrow we fly out for the states.

After walking all day, I feel it in my lower back and my legs. I take a few Ibuprofen and it abates. Laurie has been struggling the latter part of the trip with two blisters on her feet. We walk a LOT when we’re in cities, usually 5-7 miles a day, all on pavement. Maybe more. It doesn’t wear on you when you’re walking on grass or trails. Just concrete. I’ve been trying to take it easy on Laurie as the blisters are bothering her.

The Barcelona train station, "Barcelona Sants". You buy a 4.30 euro ticket, go downstairs, get on the train, and it goes straight to the airport. Too easy.

With few exceptions we’ve walked on hard surfaces today. We started out early. For Spain we were early. In the states we would have been late for work. We walked the few hundred yards from our hotel to the train station and caught our train to the airport. The ride is around 20 minutes and we arrived without problem.

The Barcelona airport is quite big. You arrive at the train station and walk maybe half a mile to get to the first terminal. From there we caught a bus to another terminal where our flight left from. When we arrived at the terminal, the bus doors wouldn’t open, so the driver just took off and did another loop around the airport!

Vending machine sandwich at the Barcelona airport. Sometimes things are lost in translation. I'm not sure I would want to gamble on this sandwich. Exactly what is "creamy"? And what is "polar bread"? Is it made from polar bears? Tell me!

This took about 20 minutes. When we returned to the proper terminal, I tried to exit the bus again and the doors open slightly and started to shut again. I wasn’t going to do another 20 minute lap around the airport so I put 230 pounds of brute force into the door. We exited the bus, and I’m not sure about those behind us.

These are Kinder eggs. They're incredibly popular in Europe and they are chocolate eggs. When you eat the chocolate, you will find a small toy surprise inside. The U.S. government views these as dangerous to the public and you can be heavily fined for bringing them in. Apparently the government has so little faith in US kids that they think the kids will eat the toy too.

We checked our bags, security went smoothly, and we had a bit to eat. We boarded our EasyJet flight to London and bid Spain goodbye. We had a great time there and it will be missed, but we have to head towards home and back to work. There are folks relying on us back in the states. We enjoyed our time there though….as well as we enjoyed all the other places we visited.

I doze on the plane and we land in London. EasyJet did a great job all the times (four total) we flew with them this trip. They got our bags everywhere they were supposed to, as well as getting us everywhere we were supposed to. And at bargain prices. Today’s flight, WITH an extra $20 charge for a checked bag, cost us $59 each.

I wish we had airlines like this in the states. They “turn ‘em around”. The plane lands, they get the people off, get the new people on, do what they need to do, and get the plane back in the air. There’s very little downtime and they are about as efficient as any airline I’ve ever seen. I’m sold on EasyJet.

We go through passport control in London. Maybe it’s just me, but we seem to have had our passports looked at much more frequently than previous trips. They’re a nervous lot due to terrorism issues over here and rightfully so. I can’t blame them and since we go in the “non EU/UK” passport line, there are usually like 3 people in it and we’re through passport control quickly.

We go to pick up our bus from Gatwick to London. It’s about an hour and ten minute drive and EasyBus charges 2 pounds ($2.75 US) if you book early. The Gatwick express is quick, easy, and goes right into Victoria station in London. It costs around 18 pounds (around $25 US). There are discounts for certain times and such, but none beat the 2 pound price on EasyBus.

Today, the ride on Easybus was a bit rough. The driver was slinging us around and both Laurie and I were a bit queasy by the end of the ride. It was unpleasant and I was questioning whether we should have spent the extra $45 for the train. We cleared up quickly once we got out of the van.

Our London cab!

I’ve been trying to take it easy on Laurie’s blistered foot. I tried a bus to get us closer to our hotel but either I misread the route on the signs or the thing took a detour. Either way, we got off a stop or two later and instead of making Laurie walk anymore I hailed a genuine London black cab.

The black cabs aren’t cheap, but if you’re not going too far and you’ve got a lot of baggage, it’s money well spent. The drivers are usually quite personable and friendly. There are two fold down seats in the back and I’d say 5 or 6 people could ride in one pretty easily. They’re also very knowledgeable about the city and where things are. He dropped us right at the front door of our hotel.

Beware pub grub. Some of it is pretty good. Some is mediocre with poor service.

We checked in and dropped our packs. We head for a nearby pub to get something to eat. We had great pub food at the start of the trip, but on this end, not so much. The food was rather mediocre. The pub was staffed with a Russian transplant and she was not happy to be there and to be working. This showed in her dealings with everyone. We have officially been waited on by the worst waitress in the UK.

High Street platform on the London tube.

I always bring back candy from the countries I travel to and share it with the folks at work. On previous trips I’ve brought chocolate back from Germany, chocolate from Switzerland (probably my best one), and chocolate and lemon gumdrops from Italy. This trip I planned on bringing something back from France or Spain.

Folks waiting to get home.

I have looked since mid-trip for candy to bring back. I couldn’t find anything in France. They have awesome baked goods and fancy schmancy handmade candy that wouldn’t survive the trip back, but plain old chocolate was hard to find. Spain had weird licorice/gummy style candy that really wasn’t very appealing.

For the Dr. Who fans in the audience, I saw the tardis!

I searched for a leather case for my Surface in Spain and didn’t find one. I have searched for decent candy for over a week in 3 different countries to no avail. We found good snow and lots of pastries…but I had to settle on candy. I found some hopefully decent German Christmas chocolate in London. I got a bunch of it to take back. Hopefully it is good chocolate. Then again, nobody dislikes free candy!

Look right and look left is painted on many if not most of the street crossings in London. They drive on the left here instead of on the right like we do in the states. Apparently folks from the states look the wrong way, after a lifetime of expecting traffic to come from a certain direction. After a bunch became road pizza, they started labeling the crossings.

We ended the day in the hotel bar with a coffee for me and a beer for Laurie. In the morning we head to the airport, bringing our adventures to a close. When we’re settled back in at home, I’ll post my reflections on the trip as I always do.

Thanks for following along everyone. See you stateside.

Posted by Bill Hall 14:18 Archived in United Kingdom

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