Category Archives: England

Last Days in London

My last days in London are a bit of a blur. I returned to the hostel near Regent’s Park where I’d been staying before, but I decided to splurge on a single room. What I didn’t realize was that the room was in a completely different building, but I still had to return to the main one to use my free meal voucher. Epic fail when you’re unwell and must walk 10 minutes in the cold just to get food.

However, it was a good idea to splash out on a single room as it came with a small fridge, sink and all the privacy I’d become accustomed to at Ross and Gill’s place. I still had to use shared shower and toilets, but I barely ran into anyone in the halls let alone in the bathroom.

I spent my last few days in London reading books in blissful isolation. When I ventured outside, it was to take a stroll through one of London’s many parks or go to a museum. I finally got around to visiting the Natural History Museum, which was very impressive and had incredible exhibits for adults and children. On another day, I walked around Notting Hill and browsed Portobello Road. Most of all, I just took in the atmosphere of the city by walking through different neighborhoods and stopping at local cafes and shops for food.

I must admit that after being on the road alone for so long, I was suffering from a bit of travel fatigue and feeling burned out. I was not motivated to look into tours or figure out how to get outside of the city to visit places like Oxford. While I know it’s not necessary to be up and doing things all the time, it felt like a waste of time paying for food and accommodation but not really seeing much of England. However, I figured I’d just have to come back to see the rest of the country another time.

The day before my flight out of England, I transferred to a hostel that was closer to the bus stop for the shuttle taking me to Gatwick Airport. Because my flight was extremely early in the morning, it was still dark when I checked out of the hostel. Surprisingly, there were actually heaps of other people waiting when I got to the bus stop. Within a few short hours, I was on the plane and saying goodbye to England.

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Bound for Scotland

I booked a bus bound for Scotland and was looking forward to meeting up with Ross and Gill, a couple I met while touring Australia ages ago. They had invited me to stay with them and I was excited to reconnect and see how they were doing. Unfortunately, the journey from London to Glasgow took a wee bit longer than expected.

I woke early in the morning and checked out of the hostel in no time. Hopping on the Tube, I made my way to Victoria Coach Station for my bus to Scotland. I arrived with plenty of time as I’d already sussed out how to get there and which gate I needed to wait in front.

Dumping my backpack in the luggage compartment under the bus, I took my daypack of goodies and found a seat. The first part of the journey was rather uneventful and I managed to get in a fair amount of reading. However, things got a big wonky when the bus driver pulled into a petrol station for an unexpected stop. She rang her company to report a malfunction in the bus.

They told her to wait for a mechanic to arrive after at least 30 minutes of back and forth on the phone for her. When it appeared a mechanic wouldn’t be able to come for several hours, they told her to continue driving and a new bus would meet her at a different petrol station so the passengers could be transferred and continue on their way. Everyone was happy to hear this and welcomed being on the move again. But, 15 minutes later she got a call and pulled over into the nearest petrol station. They were dispatching new bus and we were to wait for it to arrive.

The driver advised us it’d probably be 90 minutes before the bus arrived so we should go inside and stay warm. It was a good thing this road house was well equipped with restaurants and a small grocery store. All of the passengers hurried inside out of the cold to await rescue from a new bus.

After waiting close to two hours, a new bus was nowhere to be seen. But, the mechanic finally arrived and it turned out that we had a flat in one of the tires. He spent the next half hour changing the tire for us as we looked on, and at last we were finally on the way. Who would’ve thought I’d experience my first massive bus breakdown in England? Isn’t this supposed to be a story from southeast Asian buses?

Upon arrival in Edinburgh, they informed us that we’d missed the connecting bus to Glasgow due to our (very) late arrival. We’d have to wait for a couple of hours until the next one showed up. I phoned Gill and told her the situation as she intended to pick me up after work in Glasgow. She recommended that I just take the train from Edinburgh to Falkirk and she’d collect me from there, so I disembarked, got my things and made my way to the train station.

Everything managed to go well from there on out. I found my way from the bus depot to the rail station despite the extensive maze created by a renovation project in progress. I bought my ticket and hopped on the right train and was finally able to relax a bit.

Listening to the chatter around me, I was in awe of the fact that I couldn’t understand a single thing anyone was saying! The Scottish brogue was thick here! I know it’d been a while since I saw and spoke to Ross and Gill, but I definitely didn’t remember accents like this. As the train chugged along, I smiled to myself at the “foreign-ness” of finally being in Scotland.

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Random London Landmarks

In my aimless wanderings around London I managed to find some of the most random areas and landmarks purely through happenstance. Sometimes this is the best way of discovering a city.

After passing a rather large sports stadium where people were gathering, I stumbled upon Abbey Road, a famous Beatles landmark. Not being a fan, the street looked like any other street I’d walked along and I almost passed it. The small groups of people taking photos of a zebra crossing was my only clue that this was something special. As I stopped to watch people cross back and forth, I finally realize where I was. Apparently, reenacting the album cover photo is the thing to do. It’s a bit difficult when you’re traveling alone though so I had to settle for scenes of the crime.

Next up on my London walkabout, I came across a nice little area with canals and houseboats. It was lovely and reminded me of Venice or Amsterdam (not that I’ve been to either place yet, but I will one day). It must be nice to live aboard a boat as it probably gives you a real sense of freedom. At a moment’s notice, you can be on your way to a new adventure.

I also found a wonderful little garden that overlooked an area where the canals converged. Despite the cold and rain, the flowers bloomed cheerfully. I wanted to sit and just enjoy the atmosphere but the cold was starting to get to me so I couldn’t stay long. I guess I should’ve been grateful for the good weather I’d had during the earlier part of my trip. I was really being indoctrinated to the London lifestyle now.

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Filed under Attraction, England