My efforts to reach the travel agent to cancel the lodging went in vain because I forgot that 27th and 28th of April were the weekend and that they aren’t available. And after that cancelling meas forfeiting the whole money. So I had no other choice to get back to the hotel from Scotland.
After checking in late night the day before I called up my friend that I had indeed checked in the hotel and am back safe and sound. Since this one had free wifi, I shot a mail to my family too. The night was fun, because there were two buildings of the same hotel and I tried to search for a reception in the first building on the main road after a few minutes saw a board, that for Reception I should try the other building near by. When I went there, thankfully there were two guys in the reception and they handed me the key, the breakfast card and I went in search of my room. Here too the steps are small, but little better than the other one. But then after climbing one level and then walking around, I sort of lost my room. I was wondering where three rooms (30, 31 and 32) went off in the same level when I can see 29 and 34. There was this small girl going hither and looking at me on what I was going to do. Then after some time, I decided that I might need help. I asked this girl, if she saw number 32 anywhere. She was so happy that I talked 🙂 and she went running here and there..and after some time she saw a small corner and in that corner there were the three missing rooms. Urgh!!! In the name of all that’s holy, can’t hide the rooms any better, can they? By the time I thanked her, her mom arrived and I was on my way to my room, which was obviously small, but better than the first. The shower was still very small. I cannot turn around at free will.
In the morning, after getting up after 7 am or so, I was so ready for my breakfast, because I hadn’t eaten anything the previous day except for a small piece of the home made cake I got in Grasmere. They had extensive breakfast, but again I was more interested in my hash browns and fruits :). After that I wasn’t sure what to do for the day. So I decided that I will start with by going to Victoria station from there and then decide from there. If nothing else, I will take the big bus tours for the city. Since my hotel was in Illford, I got the directions to the station, which was again round the corner, I also took the small suitcase so that if time permits I will visit my friend and return the suitcase and get mine (along with other luggage) back. Since I had the wifi, it was easy to find the directions. Went to the station to take the Greater Anglia train to Liverpool Street and from there take the underground train to Victoria. I noticed that this area was inhabited with more Indians and Black people (I am not sure how else to address them… I have nothing against them though). Saw a Punjab National Back near the corner. After arriving in Victoria, I decided in favor of the big bus tours. There was this old guy who was selling tickets for the BigBus Tours (there are quite a lot of them). There was a red line and a blue line tour. The blue line tour takes around the Paddington area (like the Hyde park, and near by places that side) and the red line does the rest of the city. I took the red line which also includes the free cruise from Tower bridge to Westminster. After waiting for sometime, they directed to a bus that came, but after sometime found that it was the Blue line tour, which I had not opted. Well, since I was there, I completed that whole section and got down in the Marble Arch bus stop (its a hop on, hop off tour) and then again got in a Red line tour. This had the interactive tour guide, and took us all through the small streets and important places. The tour guide was a young chap and kept the ride alive. There was quite a traffic, which was usual in London and there were demonstrations going on in a particular section too, being it May 1st and Labors day and all. Since I was sitting in the top, I had enough opportunities for my photos. I had decided that I will get down near the Tower bridge. I am not interested in the Wax Museum or the Ripleys etc..
It was already more than 2 hours of journey by then. Finally the famous London Bridge and the Tower Bridge came. I got down there. I had no intention of going into the Tower of London or the climbing the bridge or anything. I guess I was getting slightly exhausted by my travels. But had some good pictures. I was so hungry by then, that I was desperate to find something to eat. The only thing that was on the way from the Tower Bridge to the Cruise near the Tower of London was a hot dog stand. I went to him and asked him if he had anything vegetarian. He replied ‘Sorry Darlin’ got nothin’ in vegetarian’. Well I guess my face would have shown the disappointment because the next thing he said was , ‘ well you know what, I can make up a cheese roll for you, if you wanna have it’. That should have made my face brighter. I said ‘Thank you, I would like it very much and a cup of cappuccino please’. That was approx 5 pounds. I am glad he did think of something to satisfy my hunger, and I am very grateful for him. He got paid alright, but he need not have bothered. That small cheese roll and a coffee did great for my energy. After that I went for the free cruise.
Do you know that the Thames River is very dirty? It was… The guy who was driving the boat also acted as unofficial guide and helped us through the different landmarks from the river and had a good sense of humor too. After getting down in Westminster, got back in another Red line tour, only to get down in Victoria at around 5 pm. Wow, the whole day went around in going through the city and in fact I did not get in the London eye, or any other place. After that I got the National Rail to Sutton and went to my friends place and stayed there till 9 pm.
She dropped me in the station at around 9.10 pm so that I catch my train to Victoria. It was already too dark and little deserted. But by the time I reached Ilford, it was beyond 11 pm. Because Illford is a small station and a rather small place, the minute I stepped on the road, with my suitcase, I felt a pang of discomfort. There were hardly anyone on the road, except for a very few and the moment I started walking I heard a drunk person saying something. I was wondering how much energy I would need to start running with my luggage, if it comes to that.. (you know mentally preparing myself for eventualities and all). But in spite of my fear, I always make sure to keep my gait and look confident and that has always helped me. Once I reached my hotel by 11.30 pm, I let out the breath I was holding. That was really a bad idea. I should have left a little early, but then I didn’t expect the trains to slow down like they did that day. It usually takes an hour and a half from Sutton, but the train stopped in lot of places due to signal.
All in all, at the end of the day, my birth day went very well, doing what I wanted to do. Exploring.