A Travellerspoint blog

October 2020

April 17, 2010 - another exciting day in London

There seems to be no escape. The volcano keeps erupting and the airlines keep cancelling flights.

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground

Day 4 — April 17, 2010 (Saturday)

Another day and the volcano is getting worse. Flights are now canceled until Sunday at 1:00 PM and probably until Monday. The French train strike is still on; ferries are swamped and not even accepting foot traffic. Our hotel has no British Airways information and we are expected to check out at noon . . . with no place to go.

We had breakfast and Ed left for the airport to see if he can either get his suitcase or file a lost luggage report. My Internet access is used up and the phone Edie loaned us has no minutes left. This is an unending bad dream.

Later:
Noon has arrived but Ed has not. I called Peugeot and explained we can’t take our car today. He understood, said they would hold it and to give a call when we had a pickup time. Thank goodness Peugeot listens to the news.

I e-mailed the kids with our (Edie’s) phone number but told them we have no minutes so can’t use it. Peg sent a Eurostar web link for a London–Toulouse train on the 19th but since Ed isn’t here, I can’t book anything.

I called the front desk and they said I had to check out so I packed all of our luggage and somehow managed to get it all down to the desk. There were two families ahead of me but when my turn came, they rebooked us back into the same room so I had to drag everything back upstairs . . . but we have a room!

I’m sitting in a very noisy lobby for an hour so they can clean our room. I found a chair facing the door so I can watch for Ed. It’s noisy here. Some man lost his daughter and started yelling hysterically. She was right there! All our fellow BA refugees are now lined up trying to rebook and rooms are limited so I’m glad I came down fifteen minutes early. We have to pay tonight and it’s pricey. Wish we could sightsee since we’re paying for the room. Ah well, just happy to have a room. Now if Ed could find his suitcase . . .

An older Houston uber-Republican decided to start a conversation that was inescapable. I remained polite but not very agreeable. I finally escaped him and returned to our now-clean room. Decided to do my nails while watching the depressing news about the volcano.

Ed finally appeared triumphant with his suitcase. Joy! We checked with the concierge about church and then made a wild attempt to book trains online to Toulouse. We could book to Paris for $568 and couldn’t figure out how to continue. French rail strike and lousy web site . . . sigh. We gave up and started calling travel agents who were not interested in our business. Strange country.

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We gave up and set off in search of church discovering a rather strange locked church about a 20 minute walk away . . . on my now-serious foot blisters. Walking back we stopped at J.G.W.S. Masque Haunt [pub at 168-172 Old St., London] for dinner. We got a Finian’s Red Ale and Ed got a beef pie while I opted for roasted lamb. It was superb and everyone in the place was a neighborhood resident. It was truly a fun pub with excellent food and a great choice of beers. They also had a nice wine list including California wines.

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground

Bunhill Fields Burial Ground

The Masque Haunt Pub in London

The Masque Haunt Pub in London

Stopped at a pharmacy for band-aids (called plasters here) for my blisters before returning to the hotel. We booked Sunday night at the hotel and really need to get to France. We’re paying for a leased car and a gite in the Dordogne while we are in London.

Posted by Beausoleil 15:53 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (4)

April 16, 2010 - an unexpected day in London

We managed some sightseeing while trapped in London. If you're there, you might as well look around . . .

Double-decker London bus at the Bank of England Museum

Double-decker London bus at the Bank of England Museum

Day 3 — April 16, 2010 (Friday)

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This morning at our British Airways (BA)-provided breakfast there was a sign posted that they would pay for another night at the Thistle Hotel. Knowing that, we decided to see London for free. The concierge gave us a map and we set off on foot.

*****

We walked to and across Southwark Bridge, meeting a trio from Canada in the same ash-cloud dilemma walking downtown. Later we met a lost Aussie businessman who needed a look at our map. Looking for the Globe Theater we asked a young Londoner for directions. He was interrupted by an elderly Londoner and they contradicted each other. We opted for the younger fellow since he seemed more willing to check directions on our map. Later the older man came racing over to tell us that the younger fellow had been correct.

*****

*****

Bank Station at The Royal Exchange

Bank Station at The Royal Exchange

Whittington Gardens-Saint Michael Paternoster Royal

Whittington Gardens-Saint Michael Paternoster Royal

View of the train bridge from Southwark Bridge

View of the train bridge from Southwark Bridge

Dome and Spires of Saint Paul's Cathedral from Southwark Bridge

Dome and Spires of Saint Paul's Cathedral from Southwark Bridge

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London


We found the Globe Theater and checked the gift shop and the outside. Next we walked under the Millennium Bridge and into the Tate Modern Art Museum. London is odd in that museums are free but you pay to visit the churches. Having no British money, we chose museums!

I’m not terribly excited by modern art but a lot of it, while not inspiring, is often lots of fun. The museum is very well done with explanations, movies and interactive exhibits that were wildly popular with young people. It was fun to watch and the works were interesting (or curious). We went to the top floor restaurant for lunch overlooking the Thames River, Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s. They took credit cards so we had the crab lunch and it was good.

*****

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

The Tate Modern - London

Lunchtime view of St. Paul's from the Tate Modern

Lunchtime view of St. Paul's from the Tate Modern

We left the museum and walked over the Millennium Bridge and up to St. Paul’s, then back to the hotel without getting lost.

St. Paul's Cathedral from the Millenium Bridge

St. Paul's Cathedral from the Millenium Bridge


St. Paul's Cathedral walking up Peter's Hill, London

St. Paul's Cathedral walking up Peter's Hill, London

Back in the room, Ed tried to make a phone call and had to go down to the desk to make phone arrangements. He came back and it still didn’t work. Back down; back up; it worked. We saw on tv that BA canceled all flights up to 10:00 AM Saturday. That was our rebooked flight! Ed called the BA number they gave us and it didn’t work. He called Customer Service and got a robot who said to rebook on ba.com.

Next I had a fight with the computer trying to purchase Internet access. I got as far as the credit card and it was refused. Ed had used it a few times here in London and had no trouble. So . . . he called MasterCard to see what happened. We had called and told them we’d be in France but were using the card in London so they decided it was suspicious. He got it all straightened out (hadn’t they heard the news?!) and I signed on to see verification of our second flight cancellation. Sigh . . .

I e-mailed the kids who had already discovered we were in London. Jean & Peg checked the BA website! Next I went to the BA web site to re-rebook and it told us to telephone. I checked phone numbers and Ed called again. The phone says to rebook on the web site; the web site says to rebook on the phone. Catch 22 . . . I logged off.

I e-mailed Andrew (NiceLife on Virtual Tourist) and asked him how to get out of London because he lives here and will hopefully know. I’ll check VT later. There must be boats . . .

We went to the BA buffet dinner and to hear our update at 8:00 PM. Nice buffet–no update. Came back to our room to discover on tv that all BA flights tomorrow are canceled. Sigh . . . back to the web.

Posted by Beausoleil 13:47 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged museums london volcano uk tate_modern globe_theatre saint-paul's Comments (3)

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