A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: icufoundme

20090425 Saturday in London - Part 1

View Western Europe - Spring 2009 on icufoundme's travel map.

I woke and the light was creeping in through the gaps in the sides of the black-out curtains. I'm curious what time it is. The hotel is silent so its either early or late. (It's so strange not having a cell phone! I keep expecting it to vibrate in my purse.)

I felt great after a long night of undisturbed sleep. Running my fingers through my hair, I found a big tangled clump. It turns out that my wax earplugs (which are amazing and highly recommended still, BTW) were stuck together and in a big knot tangled in my hair. Thankfully, it was fairly easy to untangle. It's mysterious that they were stuck together. That tells me that at some point in the night, I removed them and stuck them together, then fell back asleep before putting them down.

I wander out of my room and ask 3 different staff members for the time before someone understands me. I think the owners are Indian, the laborers may be lebanese (there is construction and painting on my floor), and the staff Ukrainian women... If I had to guess. But who knows. At least everyone is cheerful.

I was delighted to find that it's 8:20AM - still time to get the free breakfast! So, I put a scarf on my head and run downstairs to a tasty full breakfast. I'll take a picture tomorrow.
(At this point, I've decided to stay at this hotel. I thought about hauling my suitcase to McDonald's to use the internet and search for a hostel, and it sounded very unpleasant. So, I checked in for the next 2 nights and decided to search more aggressively for someone to share my room. During breakfast I scoped out the women for potential accostees. No luck so far.)

Housekeeping is ignoring the "do not disturb" sign and asking to clean my room. She agreed to come back in an hour. By then I should be showered and ready to go out.

I write the rest of last night's adventures and delete the redundant photos, rotate them, rename them by date and order taken.

Time to shower and head out for more adventure. I'll stop at McD's and upload the photos on my way.

Posted by icufoundme 11:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged lodging Comments (0)

20090423/4 First Day in Europe - London (Part 2)

The first Pint is the deepest.

View Western Europe - Spring 2009 on icufoundme's travel map.

After I sent my last post, my computer died before I could get the pictures uploaded. So, I packed up my laptop and walked down to the spot where Victoria station lets out. I was hoping to get a bus tour booked for tomorrow at the tour kiosk. They were just closing up, and gave me a brochure. As far as I can tell, I could walk the same route, and the difference would be the walking time, and the tour guide giving a bit of history. If I decide to go ahead with it - I can come back in the morning. The buses leave every 15 minutes. Its hop-on / hop-off.

[Update: The full size images are now posted at http://icufoundme.shutterfly.com/]

By the station, there is a little corridor shopping center with booths selling tourist collectors items. I bought some post cards and postage and eyeballed an army green silk paisley scarf for 2.99. Maybe I'll pick it up tomorrow.

The temperature is dropping and the breeze is cool. It reminds me very much of Santa Cruz weather. It's all about the layers. I put on my first of 2 sweaters tied around my waist.
It's about 5pm and the workers are filling the pubs. Time for my first pint in London.

I walk to the end of the block where I see what I assumed to be a pub. It turns out to be the Balls Brothers wine bar. I took a picture and walked back the direction of my hotel resolved that my first drink will be a pint of ale ;)


I come across "The Duke of York" and ask the barkeep to recommend a pale ale. He says "light or dark"? I choose dark, and he gives me IPA. I wander the pub and there are no seats. A nice gentleman named Jason offers me his stool, so I take a seat. I talk with him and his friend Tom for about 45 minutes as I finish my pint. I can't believe I forgot to get pictures. Well, I have Jason's email, so hopefully he will post a picture.


After that Pint, I continue down the street - stopping in a couple of ladies clothing stores that were very reasonable. Beautiful things, but nothing I need, obviously.

I really enjoy the small day-to-day differences between cultures. One of my favorite things to do is browse around grocery stores. I stopped in Sainsbury's to pick up snacks for later at the hotel, and took a bunch of pictures of things that amused me. Those who worked with me at SurfControl will recognize the Yorkie bars I used to have at my desk sometimes; "Not for girls!". Hahaha! Gin and Tonic in a can - nice!


After leaving the store, I come across "The and decide to have another pint. This barkeep picks up on my accent right away, and when I ask for a pint of ale - he tells me that they call lager "beer", and ale "bitters". So, I ask him to recommend a bitter, and he asks me "large or small". I say "pint", baffled. Then , I notice that lots of people are drinking beers from tiny glasses like ones I'm used to seeing at restaurants serving orange juice or milk with breakfast. A half pint, I assume.
He pours me a lovely pint of "London Pride". Nobody speaks to me the whole time I'm there except some tourists from Louisiana who agree to take a picture for me. I took a short video of the pub scene for anyone interested.


Overall, it seems that Londoners aren't particularly friendly unless you press yourself on them, then they open up. I suppose it's the same most places. The few friendlies I met were from outside London proper, and emphatically agreed that they had the same conclusion.

London actually reminds me of New York a bit. During the day - the city is all business. People racing around in expensive trendy clothing, pushing and shoving to get to the important places they are headed. Its very multinational. And there are obvious divides - and in some cases animosities - between the cultures. But for the most part... people are just people like they are anywhere.

After that last pint, it was my favorite time of day for photos - the golden hour and evening. I had a second wind and walked down Victoria Street toward the River Thames. I spent the time until dark taking photos of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Methodist Central Hall, and a bit of The Houses of Parliament and The Eye of London.


In my photos, I keep cutting the very top off of my subjects. Dang. I try to get as far away as I can, and zoom out as far as I can, but It seems like I just can't seem to get a little space at the top of the building images. I'm the ultimate tourist here - climbing up on fences, standing in streets, crouching under trees with my camera to get the pictures. Heh.

Well, its getting chilly and I'm Hungry, so I head back to the Hotel.
There's a subway in an alley by the hotel so I get a warm Italian Sandwich to go.

After I'm safe and warm back in my room, I eat and take half of one of the sleep aid pills my doctor gave me for the trip (Zolpidem). Dessert is dark Choco Liebniz abd whole milk - mmmm!
I charge my laptop grateful that I bought that $5 universal plug converter from Amazon.com.


I was already exhausted today. Now I can't keep my eyes open a minute longer.

Good night world!

Posted by icufoundme 06:05 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

20090423/4 First Day in Europe - London (Part 1)

Let's get this party started... right?

sunny 65 °F
View Western Europe - Spring 2009 on icufoundme's travel map.

It turns out the only place near my hotel with WiFi is McDonald's. So, as I update my blog entry... my first meal in London is a Big Mac from good ol' Mickey D's. Heh.

It's a warm sunny busy bustling afternoon here (about 3:45 PM here, and 7:45 AM at home). I feel like I'm moving in slow motion... either that, or everything else is on fast-forward.

I arrived in London Heathrow airport about 10AM local time. I didn't get much sleep on the plane, so my body is aching to lay down. Alas, no rest for the wicked. I want to get adjusted to the time difference, so I'm trying to stay awake as long as I can.

Here is the play-by-play up to now...

Thursday I was running around taking care of last minute stuff before heading to the airport.

I decided to go back to Long's Drugs to grab the last 3 boxes of StoveTop stuffing mix for Adam and Karen. Unfortunately, someone had bought all the rest of the boxes. Doh! Now There is a gap in my suitcase. I'll have to transfer my sweaters from my backpack so things don't shift too much. I don't want the glass A1 bottles to break.
I had better luck finding the Prisma white pencils at Lenz Art on River Street. They had many boxes of them, so I picked up 4. Hopefully 2 boxes of stuffing, 3 tins of Citrus Altoids, 2 bottles of A1 steak sauce, and 4 boxes of pencils will hold them over until August when they will have more visitors from "The States".
I thought about stopping at a store in San Jose on my way to the airport to get more stuffing, but I was running behind (me? no!) and didn't want to chance it.

On the way to the park-and-ride in Burlingame (Anza), I randomly popped in a CD. It was "Lindsey's super duper ultra mix" from Pat. It was a great way to start the journey. I'll post the songs later for those who are interested. (Thanks, Pat!)

I usually fly out San Jose. San Francisco Airport is really impressive! Its a work of art (and contains many works of art). I'll get pictures on my way back through. I was getting used to my new camera and had it on manual focus so they were not coming out. BTW - The food was really amazing for an airport! [see picture]


An odd thing happened. My flight said it was "Continental Airlines" but the drop-off driver told me that they don't do international. Hm. Turns out it was Virgin Atlantic. On top of that - my flight was supposed to go to London Standsted airport, but actually went to Heathrow. My return flight to London from Marseille is to Standsted for that reason, so I'll have to look into that further.

I didn't realize (more like forgot) that you can't lock your bags unless you have a special lock. It turns out my bag was inspected anyway. There was a lovely note inside when I arrived.

Aboard the plane, it was mostly Europeans - especially Brits. They ushered us past the first class bar to get to our coach seats. Jerks ;)
Virgin Air is a really "Hip" airline. You can definitely see the Branson personality shining through.
While we were taxiing, it was so warm that I dozed off with my elbow in the window to support my head. As I dozed, my arm slipped and I had one of those jerked-awake moments and felt silly ;).
I took pictures of the treats and food they served for anyone interested. [pics]
The take off over San Francisco was beautiful. I wish I had set the camera for the full 9Mp instead of 5. [pics]
During the flight I was wishing I hadn't put my backpack in the overhead compartment. I was writing all this stuff by hand on a scrap of paper.


During the flight, I watched "Vicky Christina Barcelona" and loved it! I'm not usually a Woody Allen fan, but this one really moved me.

I also read a few chapters of "Eat, Pray, Love" which is also hitting very close to home right now.

I'm regretting that i did not pack the telephoto and wide angle lenses that came with my camera. They were bulky so I thought I would not use them. Which may be true. But I have room in my bag. I'll just see that as room to bring more goodies home.

There was a very nice man sitting next to me that ended up being a real travel Angel. I think I made him feel a bit awkward with my clumsy attempt at breaking the ice. He and the other woman in the 3-seat row were already sitting and had to get up to let me to the window seat. I said something along the lines of "I bet you're relieved that I'm not much bigger". He said he wasn't really sure how to respond to that. Luckily over the course of the flight things went much better, heehee. (My mom said she would send her guardian angel to look after me, so I guess that can manifest in many ways). I guess its no coincidence then that his name is Chris. (Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travelers for those of you non-Catholic types.) He lives in London and makes furniture. He goes back and forth to San Francisco because his partner Paula lives there. He actually drew me a London map by hand and gave me some great tips on what to see [see picture]. After the flight, it turned out that we were heading the same direction, so he traveled with me on public transport ("the tube") until my exit which was immensely helpful.


I took the blue Picadilly tube from the airport and switched to the green District tube at South Kensington. Then jumped off at Victoria and hauled my bags to my hotel - The Wellington - at 72 Vincent Square.

At the airport, I exchanged currency [see picture], bought maps, bought a day pass for public transport [see pic], and made a hotel reservation [more pics]. Upon making the hotel reservation, I was told that this weekend is the London Marathon. What timing - doh! So most hotels are booked and overpriced. Most of the accommodations are designed for shared occupancy, so if you want a room to yourself, you pay for however many people it could sleep. I have a double room for 70 Euros - that's over $100! And - get this - the bathroom is shared with everyone else on that floor! Yeesh. The one nice thing is that it is centrally located. I can walk to most of the London city sites
I'll try to find a woman to share with if I decide to stay in that hotel.


Hm... my laptop is about to die. McD's has wireless but no shared power. No Dr. Pepper or Mr. Pibb either! I guess they don;t like prune soda in London. *sigh*

I'll try to upload my photos in the minutes remaining.

Cheers! Tally Ho! All that rot...

Posted by icufoundme 07:34 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged air_travel Comments (3)

Flight information

For all my stalkers out there...

semi-overcast 43 °F
View Western Europe - Spring 2009 on icufoundme's travel map.

Hello Family, Friends and Enemies!

Here are my flight details so far. I'm still not sure how I will get from Barcelona to Madrid. The train looks like a great option. We'll see...

From San Francisco (SFO) to London Heathrow (LHR)
Thurs, 23Apr09 Continental Flight 8240 Depart SFO at 4:30PM and arrive LHR at 10:30Am Fri 24Apr09
Reservation ID: NXFBDY
Booking Number: 1956794
Electronic Ticket Number: 0057409808548 E-Ticket
FLIGHT TOTAL: Round-trip $575.30
From London Stansted (STN) to Dublin (DUB)
Mon, 27Apr09 RyanAir Flight FR 211 Depart STN at 12:00 and arrive DUB at 13:15

  • *******59.43 GBP Total Paid

From Dublin (DUB) to Reus (Salou) (REU)
Fri, 01May09 RyanAir Flight FR1116 Depart DUB at 12:20 and arrive REU at 15:50

  • *******71.36 EUR Total Paid

Train from Barcelona to Madrid (or possibly rent a car or alternate airline)
From Madrid (MAD) to Marseille Provence MP2 (MRS)
Mon, 11May09 RyanAir Flight FR5446 Depart MAD at 13:25 and arrive MRS at 15:15

  • ******131.38 EUR Total Paid

From Marseille Provence MP2 (MRS) to London Stansted (STN)
Wed, 13May09 RyanAir Flight FR6541 Depart MRS at 22:40 and arrive STN at 23:45

  • *******33.00 EUR Total Paid

From London Heathrow (LHR) to San Francisco (SFO)
Thurs, 14May09 Continental Flight 8239 Depart LHR at 11:00AM and arrive SFO at 1:50PM

Don't forget to "subscribe" to this blog so you receive updates via email. I know how much you want to stop everything to linger over every word I write ;)

As always... If you know of anyone in any of the above cities with a spare room or couch to offer - hook me up already, geez!

Have a magnificent day,

Posted by icufoundme 01:52 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

It's alive! (My travel blog, that is...)

... and so it begins. /queue the music

sunny 70 °F
View Western Europe - Spring 2009 on icufoundme's travel map.

Greetings cats and kittens,

Today is the last day of "the grind". I'm frantically trying to get work affairs and last minute travel plans tied up. Tomorrow I fly from San Francisco to London for 3 weeks of jumping around Western Europe. Woo hoo!!!

I'll post my itinerary and flight information separately.

If you need to reach me, just email icufoundme at yahoo dot com.

Thanks for joining me on this great adventure!!!

System.out.println("Hello World!");


Posted by icufoundme 09:49 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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