Monday, October 14, 2013

September 14, Saturday in Lake District to Carlisle, Train to London

Sept 14, 2013

I woke at either 4am or 5, since I didn't know if I'd changed my watch the last time I had it on in Rotterdam. So got up at half past whatever, and puttered away in the dark trying not to wake hubby. Once again, I had no internet connection so I wrote my report from yesterday and just now realized I forgot to add the areas we'd been on tour since the flyers were already packed away and I couldn't do it from memory.
I got my first Cheerio! this morning from a lady having breakfast with us. We had another full English breakfast but it wasn't as good as the one in York. We were on the road by 9:30 and headed up to Carlisle going on the road that would take us up and over the mountains of the Lake District since we were told it was the most scenic route. It was but the road was very narrow and hubby and I were on pins and needles the whole time.

*Note- for any future trips that require renting a car, don't get a mid-full size. Hubby had ordered a mid-size but on arrival we were told they only had the full size which was a Ford mini van. These roads are not made for this size car. So go for the smaller ones. Trust me on this.**
Our drive took us to the upper elevation of the moutains and right away we noticed the green changed to brown, mixed with green in the valleys. Still mainly farm areas and sheep but not as much. Again there were thousands of miles of slate stone walls.


I think this photo is going to be enlarged and framed. It looks like a painting to me, but this is taken out the front windshield of our car. 
As we were coming down the backside and into the valleys, we started noticing a couple sheep had gotten outside the fences and were munching on the taller grasses along the sides of the road. As we went around a corner, we came up on four in the road, two just in front of us. They started walking quickly down the road with their little black butts wiggling in front of us.

I managed to get some photos of them. I wished I'd had time to switch to video but it happened too fast. They joined two others and we drove onto the other side of the road to go around. We were laughing out loud for the sheer joy of it. We came onto another group on a small side road and stopped for photos of them too. One just keep glaring at me, and then ran into two others. Time to go before we started a stampede.

The rest of the drive was uneventful with hubby only scraping the side of the car on the bushes occasionally and swerving too quickly when a car came the opposite direction. We drove around a huge lake as we came out the other side and finally ran into the M6 to take us to Carlisle.
We thought we'd stop in Penrith, as we were told it was a scenic town but we never saw the exit, and hubby was hoping to see a castle he'd heard was in Carlisle. Once we exited there, we saw one sign with a castle design pointing right. How hard would that be? Well, not when you're in England. That was the last sign, never knew how far it was, or the name, and after 20 minutes we got lost and had to backtrack to where we had exited originally to find the car rental drop off. The only reason I saw that street sign was I saw one named King St and logically said maybe next one would be Crown St, our turnoff. Then I saw the Crown Inn and as I read it as we passed, I saw the street sign behind it. So we missed that street to turn on and had to go around back on a bunch of one way streets to find it again. Not easy, and many expletives were added to the scenery.

We finally got to the train station an hour and a half early. While we were driving through town it wasn't too impressive. Lots of non-descript red brick buildings. It made me think of a textile factory town. (If you've seen  Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South on PBS, you'll know what I mean). I noticed the buildings were much more plain and sturdy looking. It reminded me of Scottish architecture, and I remembered seeing a sign that said (Scotland) Carlisle on the M6. I was able to ask someone how far Scotland was from here, and he said 6 miles to the border. We were only 6 MILES FROM SCOTLAND!! Darn, not enough time and no car!
The train station had some nice character but again nothing fancy. We were able to board an earlier train, one of the Virgin Trains, and this puppy goes fast. In about 3 hours we'll be in London but in the meantime we get to see more of the countryside.  

The trip from Carlisle to London went mainly through farmland so there wasn't much to see and take photos. However we were zipping along so fast any photos would have been a blur. During the last hour they brought us Picnic Packs in a bag which came with ham sandwiches, chips, cookies, candy bar, orange juice, and water. 
We arrived at London Euston station about 3pm and since our luggage stayed with us the entire trip, we just walked out to the street. So much easier than having to wait for your luggage. We found a cab waiting out front, which was a large roomy black one. It was shiny and spotless. The back seat is set back with lots of room in front of you to put all your luggage. So the driver never has to get out of his car to put it in the trunk/boot. He's behind a Plexiglas screen and there are speakers that we can hear each other. We gave him our location, about 25 minutes away, and he gave us a bit of history on the city, but was very proud of his taxi. He told us good taxi drivers go to a school for 3 years to learn all about the city and their minds become a map of everything. Once done, you are your own boss, own or lease your own car, and you work as much or little as you want. I never asked how much he earns.

Our hotel was about a block from Hyde Park, which I've read about so much in historical mysteries, like those of Anne Perry. The entrance to the hotel, the London Marriott on Park Lane, is through the back alley so I never saw what the entire hotel looked like until I found this photo of it on the internet. From my view on the sidewalk there was nothing outstanding about it. But inside it was all white marble and sleek wood. 

Our room on the 2nd floor was very nice and modern, but nothing worth photographing. But it felt familiar and comfortable to us (ie- we know how to work everything), and the bed was soooo soft.

We got a map and directions from the Concierge Desk (which we're mainly talking to Polish and German employees), and went out walking. We walked right out to a London double-decker red bus, next to a English telephone box. Someone told us the telephone boxes are hardly used anymore but they're kept on for the tourists to see. Thank you, England! 
We walked down Oxford Street around the corner, a very busy shopping area, & I saw my first Muslim woman wearing full burka with only her eyes showing. We both caught and held a glance for a moment before walking on. There were many Muslim women and men on the street, and I began seeing more wearing all black, and more with their faces covered too. The sheer amount of people on the sidewalks was stiffling. We found out later that it was London Fashion Week, and also the triathlon was going on the next day so it was a wall of people we walked into there. After an hour of trying to go against the tide, we were exhausted. But I were looking for an antique mall the Concierge had told us about. After asking directions multiple times, we finally found it, and it was already closed. Gray's Antique Center, on the corner of Davis & Bond St, with 200 dealers. It's closed on Sunday so the first chance we can go back is Wednesday.

I also heard Selfridge's Department Store was down there but couldn't find it since many of the huge buildings had banners and posters on them. I need to find out the exact intersection it's on.
We headed back to the hotel and went up to the Executive Lounge and had our free dinner munchies, and one item was a Chickpea salad that was sooo good, and I mentioned how good it was to the hostess. We tried to figure out what was in it, then she excused herself. A few minutes later she came back with the Head Chef. I complimented him, and then asked if he'd share the recipe. He grinned and started to tell me then said I'll email it to you. It took a few tries but I did finally get it by email.
So now we're planning our strategy for tomorrow which is to find the local museums. The British Museum, the Victoria & Albert, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum are on our list. And I want to find a Tardis. (A Dr Who souvenir).

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