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Tag: Travel (page 2 of 2)

Canal Meanderings – London Trip Day 2

We started the day by going for a little walk. Both Victoria and I had put on black nail polish before we left and it was starting to look a little ragged around the edges. We went back to Hammersmith Station and into the shops there. There was a drug store where we managed to pick up nail polish remover pads which were surprisingly effective, a tiny hair brush, shampoo and conditioner.

The Saba hotel seems to have given us very tiny amounts of hotel shampoo and we needed something better than that, and more of it to last a week. This way we can use the same stuff all throughout our trip. The square was bustling in the middle of the day as you would expect.

The morning was crisp but comfortable enough for me. Victoria was a little cold. We returned to our hotel for a short stay and then headed out, this time with a light sweater for Victoria.

We decided to walk up toward a new park we had not seen yet. Victoria was a bit disappointed as this wasn’t the dense trees and beauty kind of park. More of a large-ish parkette with open grass and walkways to other corners. The whole thing was on a wedge shaped piece of land. In London, none of the streets are in a grid layout.

We made our way to Ladbroke Grove Station and took the train northeast toward the birthplace of Alan Turing! It is a hotel now and they keep a plaque on the wall to commemorate it.

The next stop was little Venice, a canal with long, elaborate house boats. The water was beautiful and so were the buildings surrounding it. We stopped in a house boat cafe and had a tasty soda and some light snacks before heading down the canal.

Some of the houseboats were rickety, and some were well cared for. One had a Pizza John flag hung in the window, to let you know a John Green fan was there.

Renowned author and pizzamas persona

A short while after this a tiny dog shot past us like a rocket. Apparently her owner had continued to walk while she investigated something more interesting, and decided she had to book it to catch up. It was quite surprising and we both laughed.

Not pictured: the dog. She was too fast!

The canal had a very peaceful vibe. So peaceful that Victoria and I didn’t notice that her directions had been faulty. We went the opposite way down the canal to what we had intended.

We stopped into a Pret a Manger, which was my first time and it seemed similar to the kind of market where you select your own food, pay, and then find a place to sit you find in Toronto. The food was good, though. Afterward we stopped at the coffee kiosk at the closest tube station and headed back home.

On the way back, a nice man stopped in the middle of his phone call to warn us against going down a dead end and that seemed quite nice. We saw some fun and quirky things along the way, or maybe it is we who are quirky.

At the hotel we recharged our batteries, both figuratively and literally, then headed out again. This time it was evening and we were going to find dinner.

Victoria thought we should go through a park east of the hotel which turned out to be a very lovely park, but it was quite far away by walking. It was already dinner time, so we looked for restaurants near the park and ended up at a burger place called Byron. The wait staff must have had a change-over because nobody was minding the “please wait to be seated” sign and we waited quite a while before anyone really came to speak with us. (Even after peering into the restaurant to make eye contact with a server.)

It turned out to be a good choice, however. The burgers they had were fantastic. The hot sauce was… not hot. The cider was excellent. We had a Hawkes mixed berry cider and it was very tasty.

Now faced with the task of making our way back to the hotel on weary feet, we headed on a circuitous route west to Brook Green, where we found two people practising light saber skills in the park in the middle.

Come to London. Learn the art of the… LASER SWORD!

What a delightful thing to find on our way home!

Here I sit relaxing and wondering what tomorrow will bring. I think it may be something nerdy.

First day in London – UK Trip Day 1

Hi there! I’m writing from my bed in the hotel room. I am completely exhausted, but happy. But let’s rewind a bit and go over how the day has gone so far.

Today started yesterday. It’s been one long day that should have been two. Victoria was quietly freaking out for most of Sunday the 15th, which is of course a little un-calming to be around. So I tried my best to assuage her fears or to simply stay out of her way. Sometimes alternating between her calling out things for me to decide on and me making a decision and then promptly leaving the room.

What? I was NOT playing Portal for XBOX360 while my cutie was trying to pack. YOU were! Nuh-unh! Erm, anyway.

I had already put my things together so we only had to wait for the time to leave. That time came, and Victoria seemed to think taking transit was the best course of action. I wasn’t as sure about this. I had a bad feeling about that plan.

Well, that seems to be for good reason as two cultural festivals had blocked many of the streets on Sunday in Toronto, so we waited at the stop for a street car that would not short turn only to discover that it would never come.

So I hailed a Lyft with the app and waited. Thankfully that option proved much quicker at first. There was a short while where the car seemed to be inching along Lakeshore toward the Gardiner expressway, but we made it to the airport on time.

Usually the part I stress about is the security line but at this point it’s pretty passe. So we got through in less than 10 minutes and settled in for a two hour wait for our plane to leave! Tons of time!

Well I went off to the Tim Hortons to grab us a quick coffee and upon finishing the transaction, I noticed something amiss.

Now if I were to ask you what’s the most important thing to have with you on a flight to London, what would it be? What’s the most important thing you need with you?

A passport? I patted my pocket, and nothing was there. The one spot I always put it no matter what and it wasn’t there!

OH. NO.

I’d like to say that I maintained my composure during all of this but I think we all know that I freaked the heck out.

I power walked over to my airline at the time, and instead of doing anything useful whatsoever, the young Air Transat employee simply re-iterated to me that I’d not be able to get on the plane without it.

Even when specifically asked if there were a lost and found or anything like that he chose to spit in my face by re-iterating to me I’d not be able to get on the plane. Really? REALLY NOW? That’s not the very first thing I knew.

So I went to a WestJet employee and they at least tried to help me. They also pointed me to one of the store staff behind themselves who knew exactly where to go.

So off I ran back to security. “A twenty minute walk,” according to her, but I was much quicker. Possibly quicker still because the Pearson staff who rode carts around offered me a ride. A lifesaver!

I made my way to the security desk, weaving through commuters going every which way, and finally arrived to spot a security person asking if someone had lost a ring.

“Did you find a passport?” I asked. But he didn’t even reply, and I saw it was the wrong line so I had best try the one I came from.

On the way to the security line I had previously used, I spotted a desk in the middle with several staff standing around. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a passport!

Oh, but the boarding pass was one of those printed from the kiosk ones. Not the one I had printed at home. Boo…

Oh, but what’s this? Another passport? I guess this happens more often than I thought.

“Hi! I’ve lost my passport, have you found any?”

They asked my name and apparently it’s the one they had just found. Miraculous!

I received a message just then, “They are asking us to verify our passports!” Victoria had messaged me, so I messaged back, “Found,” while I marched back with speed. Jogging my way through passengers. “I’m at security.”

That little fool had called our passports in for verification immediately after we had the discussion about me having to go back to security to find it. What is wrong with you!? I only took about 5 minutes to get back to the security lines!

Anyway. I made my way back, utilizing the carts again. A Pearson staff had parked for a bit and I asked if I could catch a ride. I made it back to the desk, sweaty and annoyed.

So that part of the nightmare was over, I guess. Now to air out my shirt and hope the stress sweats didn’t stink too much. I just love being sweaty and stinky on a plane.

Pictured: Me

I would like to claim that this is the first time this has happened, but it isn’t. There was the incident when I was trying to leave New York, but that’s a story for another day.

Once on the flight I had an okay time. AirTransat is a fine airline to be on a plane with, but their on the ground staff could use some training. I watched a show about fixing up old cars for people who have let them decay. I wanted to watch it as a form of relaxation the same as watching restoration videos on YouTube, but of course this show put on by National Geographic wants to be “good TV” so they’ve got to get the drama in there somehow. It was nonetheless enjoyable.

I didn’t sleep a wink after that. Not from any kind of stress, although the stress sweats definitely were a thing. I simply can’t sleep on planes at all. Ah well, I guess I’ll spend the day awake until bedtime in London!

Once we landed, the feeling of actually being in London for the first time set in. It was exciting! We purchased cheap data SIM cards so we can keep in touch, and maybe catch a Mr. Mime! Yes, we play Pokemon Go still.

SIM cards
SIM card get!

We also picked up our Oyster cards, and Victoria was visibly pleased by this. She loves to keep them after our trips. One thing we found useful is that since we were spending a week in London, for the price of the Gatwick express train we purchased an unlimited use weekly ticket on our Oyster card. Wonderful!

London Oyster card
The world is our oyster!

Now that we had the means of getting on transit we headed for our hotel. On the train we met a lovely lady who had two assistance animals with her. The fact that she had two, her lanyard about assistance animals, and the fact that one of them seemed to be very inquisitive all spoke to her being a trainer. So I went ahead and asked if she was training those dogs, and of course she was. We had a nice conversation. Everyone on the train seemed very nice.

She remarked that we happened to catch a very old train. It was certainly wobbly, but seemed modern enough to me. I was more interested in the house tops which had those chimneys I had remembered from Mary Poppins, and all of the silly graffiti tags. “Pies”, I feel ya. We’ll have to tell “SPUD”.

(Pies is a UK tag we saw with a multi-coloured rendering and SPUD is a tag we saw a lot of in our own neighbourhood for while.)

Upon arriving in Hammersmith station, we caught our bearings and bought a little sandwich and a coffee at a cute little coffee shop, and I did a little vlog.

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London vlog: harrowing journey!

A post shared by Ain Bowman (@eanbowman) on

We then headed for our hotel. It was a decent 10 minute trudge with all of our things to the hotel. On arrival we found they were all old converted townhouses. Beautiful! I wonder what the residents think about this?

When we were given our key card we headed up the creeky plush carpeted stairs a few levels to reach a set of tiny doors. Our room is cozy but our first concern was taking off our boots and having a short rest.

That sorted, we had a nap. We were both completely exhausted.

We woke up around dinner time in London, so to keep our bodies on London time for a while we went out to eat. We found a little Fish and Chips restaurant and had a pretty good meal. We shared one plate and that was the perfect amount of food for us, and only 13 pounds. So about what we would pay for a dinner for us both in Toronto.

Kerbisher & Malt
The fish and chips shop we stopped at.

Now I’m back here in my hotel and we’re getting ready to rest for the night. I hope you found this entertaining. I’ll try to keep up my travel log for this trip, so I should be posting daily for the next two weeks!

Bye for now!

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