We picked the Gore Hotel for our stay. I wasn’t sure what to expect, having heard that London’s idea of a hotel is something out of the nineteenth century. The place is pretty narrow – I managed to knock over a lot of furniture dragging my luggage to the room – but it’s comfortable. There’s a popular bar and a bistro on the ground floor.
We woke the first day to the news that John Entwistle of the Who had passed away. Then Neil Diamond made an awful appearance on a British morning TV show, singing Sweet Caroline over a synth backing track. Music-wise we were off to a bad start.
We had a little trouble figuring out the Undergound zone fare system in the bustle of Friday morning rush hour at the Gloucester Road station. I think we ended up buying tickets for everyone in the station. Get your head together before approching the kiosk.
Advice from all sources agreed: don’t rent a car in London. The traffic is insane… on top of that the other vehicles are too distracting. A lot of the cars look like noses.
Tower of London
Okay, that’s not the Tower. That’s the Tower Bridge, next to the Tower, which is more of a sprawling castle complex than a tower. But I imagine back in 1080 the White Tower was about as towering as it got.
Tickets are pricey but if you get there early (before the buses) and tag along on the Yeoman’s Tour it’s a great place to visit, chock full of history and photo ops.
Cabinet War Rooms
- Temple, Knights Templar
- Weird birds on the Mall
- Sherlock Holmes Pub
- Surprise of Chelsea
- Light of India
- Lamb and Flag
Thumbs not so up:
- National Museum. The Rembrandt Room is good, though.
- Victoria Garden. The travel book made it sound a lot nicer.
So we went to Starbucks. Come on, it was ’70s Day.
There are about a thousand railway stations in London. York is serviced out of the Charing Cross station – the ticketing system is vintage 1978, with a clunky terminal and a phone book full of rail schedules in tiny print. The agent at the booth was very helpful though, steering us to an early morning round-trip ticket that cost about half the one-way fare we were contemplating.
Check it out: 62 pounds one way, 24 pounds round trip. They say the UK rail system is in disarray.