Today was the day the blister won, but more on that later. On the way to pick up my LondonPass, I stopped by a pharmacy to get things to take care of the problem, namely antiseptic and blister bandages. I seem to be destined to hew to the Northern Line, so I grabbed a train to get me Leicester Square, the closest stop to the address listed for picking up the pass. It was listed as 11a. This is just a little misleading. The building marked 11 is on one side of the street; 11a is the basement of a kiosk in a tiny island of no man’s land between two streets.
So, know this: if you’ve pre-purchased a London Pass and need to go to 11a Charing Cross Road to get it, get off at Leicester Square, walk south, and when you get to 11 turn around and head for the little kiosk you’ll see. It doesn’t look like it could possibly have a stairway in it, but it does, a tiny winding thing. With it you get a little booklet listing all the places where the LondonPass gives you an advantage (usually admission, sometimes fast-track admission, but not always; in some places you get a free simulation ride or a free guide book in addition admission).
It is completely worth it to get this thing, I promise.
Remember what I said about liking the Tube? Still true. And I managed to take one of my favorite photos so far in Euston Station.
Anyway, I didn’t have much of a breakfast (my hotel, Clink 78, provides toast and cereal, but I am a carnivore and require something more substantial than that before long), so while between Leicester Square and Charing Cross I looked for a place to eat. I missed out on getting an English breakfast, as it was past 11. So I took a look at the Bear and Staff, but wasn’t really thrilled. And so I happened on the Garrick Arms. Now, after doing a bit of research, I think I would have been too intimidated to go had I known then what I know now, but I can tell you they have well earned their reputation. The staff were friendly, relaxed, and helpful. The barman recommended an ale to go with the Suffolk pork sausages I ordered, which was fantastic (unsurprisingly a Greene Knight IPA, but to my delight pulled from a cask!), and the manager (possibly the proprietor) was moving around among the customers, making sure everything was all right.
The food arrived very fast, and I ordered a side of cabbage for the heck of it. Never had it, and I enjoyed it very much. Of course, it’s quicker to list the foods I don’t like compared to those I do. Anyway, the serving size was generous: three sausages set over cheddar mashed potatoes, in a shallow bowl with just the right amount of gravy. The sausage was exquisite, cooked to almost crispy on the outside. I did take pictures of the food, but it’s very difficult to keep bangers and mash from looking at best unappetizing and at worst faintly vulgar.
After geting fed well enough to keep me from getting hungry until well past dinner, I decided to walk to Trafalgar Square, since I was not far away at all. I realize the National Gallery is there. While I am interested in painting and scuplture, I only have so many days, and they’re pretty much laid out. I love taking high speed pictures of water, so I hung around the fountain at the start, watching people climb up on the lion pedestals to get their photos taken. Moving away from the gallery, I discovered the view you get, and took a couple of pictures of that.
It was getting a bit late, so I wanted to get moving to the Tower. A quick check of my map showed me the 15 bus would get me there, and I’d heard they had some vintage Routemasters on that line. Transit geekery compelled me to take the bus. And as I was looking for the stop, what should pull up but a vintage Routemaster?
I still can’t believe no one would come up to the top deck with me. Silly people.
About thirty minutes later I arrived at the Tower. No waiting for me, with my LondonPass, and my timing kept its good record as I arrived moments before a Yeoman tour. My thoughts on the Tower will have to wait; I’m still mulling things, and doing a bit of research. But if you haven’t gone, and you’re going to London, go see the Tower. And do stick around for the whole Yeoman tour.
After the Tower, I walked east along the river, taking in the view of the Tower Bridge. By this time my foot was beginning to seriously hurt. After a frustrating search for a toilet (found a pay toilet, happy to cough up the 50p once I got to it), I ended up back along the 15 route. And what should turn up? Another vintage Routemaster! The only trouble with the heritage route is that it terminates at Trafalgar Square. I’d been counting on it to go further, so I could get off at Piccadilly Circus and take the train back up to King’s Cross that way.
But the blister won the day. I went ahead and took a cab. What a fantastic car the London cab is! My poor cabbie didn’t sound too thrilled with my destination, expecting the worst from someone asking to go to a hostel in King’s Cross. His attutude completely changed when I remembered to give him a proper tip–the fare came to £10.80, and customarily you just round up to the nearest pound. Twenty pence is just not enough, so I bumped it up to £12, which still left me feeling a bit like a cheapskate, but he seemed genuinely appreciative.
So now, back at the temporary homestead, I’m taking things easy. I’ll try to take a shower tonight, though I’m not looking forward to it (unisex showers–fantastic). Tomorrow is Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor, so I have to make sure the foot is appeased and I get some rest, since I don’t want to sleep too much on the tour bus. Bonus: got reservations at St John Bread & Wine for after I get back. If I’m too tired to get there on my own, I might take a cab again, but that’ll break my daily spending limit (set by me as a personal exercise, not by any financial institution).