Friday afternoon, library_lynn picked me up at the office and we headed to LAX. I'd learned at the last minute that our airlines had a 70 lb per bag weight limit, not 50 lbs, so we didn't have to do any last-minute shuffling -- we'd packed our bags to the 50 lb. limit. We have new aloha-print suitcases, two red (mine) and one blue (hers). I used Lynn's old carry-on bag for my uses, instead of taking the padded laptop bag; a calculated risk, because there's less protection for this computer [as you can see, it made it through unscathed], but I didn't want to grapple with two carry-on items. Lynn used her new "Shoujo Beat" bag that she got when she signed up for Shouju Beat at Anime Expo. When I wheeled my luggage out of the office to the car, and we loaded the car, we made the decision to bring the folding trolley with us. It's travelled internationally before -- it was a checked item on our Toronto trip -- but, like us, this is its first trip overseas.
We made it to London, took Heathrow Express to Paddington Station (a natural place for a bear to change trains) and activated our GSM phones. We're on Vodafone. My UK ph#: 0 7767 741313. library_lynn is 0 7767 741314. I've brought a number stamper and stamp pad, and I've been stamping my cell number on the back of my business cards. Maria, anyone else dialing from outside UK, I believe the country code is 44 and you leave off the zero. Therefore you should be able to dial me from the US (for example) by 011 44 7767 741313.
I also had lunch: a genuine cornish pasty from West Cornwall Pasty Co., there in the station. I asked the man settled the question of how to pronounce the word "pasty"? (Some pronounce it with a long A, some with a short A -- in other words, to rhyme with tasty or nasty, respectively.) He pronounced it with a schwa or short O sound -- like the first part of posse or possibility. Well, now I know. He was mildy surprised to learn I'd had pasties in California.
The folding trolley came in hndy getting our luggage from Heathrow to Paddington and onto the Underground. I ran into my ankle, though, so I've got a bruise on my left ankle now. Ouch! We took the Bakerloo line to Baker Street, then the Jubilee line to North Greenwich. Which is a station straddling zone 2 and zone 3 -- so we went a bit of a ways out from central London, in other words. Then a taxi to the Express/Holiday Inn.
The room had an interesting feature: you had to put your room card key into a gizmo to make the lights in the room work. We flopped down, took a nap and a shower, and eventually emerged into the world; walked down to the 14-screen "Filmworks" which is the core of a little shopping centre, with several restaurants and next door to a DIY warehouse store, an electronic appliance store (i.e., like a Home Depot, followed by a Best Buy store), and a supermarket called Sainsburys. There was a Starbucks in the grocery, but (a) they were closing when we got there and (b) didn't have wireless access. So we didn't get online last night as originally planned.
We had dinner at Nando's,, which is a Portuguese chicken place. (Sort of like El Pollo Loco, as far as the marinated chicken goes.) I had a "Savanna" Cider, from South Africa; library_lynn had a hot chocolate which was served up frothy like a capuccino w/o the coffee. Nando's was very tasty; their chile and lime "mild" chicken was spicy enough for me, I'm glad I didn't go for one of the hotter options.
The "Express by Holiday Inn" has breakfast, as just about all UK hotels do; this was a so-called "English" breakfast, which is a continental breakfast bar. Fruit (including Washington apples), cold cereal, apple juice (they were out of orange juice), milk, cheese, croissants, irish butter... I don't think I'm leaving anything out. I was ready for some pancakes and bacon after eating breakfast, but Lynn was satisfied. Not "full" but she didn't want to be full. One of the two lifts was out of order. We were on the 4th floor; the ground floor had a chinese restaurant (I didn't eat there, though), the 1st floor had reception and the breakfast "great room", and the 2nd thru 7th were guest floors. One working elevator is not enough! Every lift that came up was full; every lift that came down was full.
And we had three full suitcases plus the folding trolley to get downstairs... so, I lugged them all down the stairs. Broke a wheel on one of the new suitcases. I'm not thrilled with how these hold up, because I'd bought a purple suitcase for my K.C. trip and one of the wheels stopped working there, too. I got them at J&J Rugs, on Maple Street between 8th and 9th in L.A.'s garment district; I was happy enough with the guy's attitude about taking back or fixing my purple one, so I got more, but now I'm thinking I shouldn't have... also I shouldn't have picked two reds, I should have all different colors so I can easily pick which is the one that has my clean clothes.
But I digress.
We took a taxi from the hotel directly to King's Cross Station. We're staying two nights at the Belgrove Hotel, which is on Belgove Street -- it's not on the maps. The maps shows "Belgrove Square" near King's Cross, but not Belgrove Street. The taxi driver couldn't find it. (And he charged us 30 pounds to go from Greenwich to King's Cross. We're thinking next time we'll struggle with the underground again, it's much cheaper.) We got out, talked to a couple of cops, and eventually figured out how to find the Belgrove. It's next door to the California Hotel, and the next street over has a number of additional small hotels, all pretty much interchangeable I believe. We'd been cautioned that the Belgrove wasn't the best; it may be a hole, but it's a cute hole. Or something. We're in a room with two twin beds again; it's a tiny room, but it's the one closest to the front door, and everything's up and down stairs so close to the street is good.
And now we're at the British Library. (And next time I'll do my composing off-line...)
More later, I guess. Having a wonderful time, wish you were here. Tomorrow we go to Cadbury World, and tomorrow night we go to the Tun - the London fan meeting at Walkers of Holborn. Then Tuesday, up to Glasgow!