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Published: September 16th 2018
We have arrived in Jolly Ole England! Sometime during the night we quietly docked in Southampton. We had left an early wake-up call, but we were already docked by 6:30. So we got up and dressed and went up to the buffet for a Cunard last meal. We were ahead of the largest group of diners so there wasn’t too bad a crowd and we got in & out efficiently.
Then we returned to our cabin and made sure everything would fit in our roller bag and backpack, and then headed off for our next adventure. We said goodbye to Ferdinand (our cabin steward) and reported to the Royal Court Theater. After about half an hour they called our group of travelers to bring our bags and report to the gangway. We left the Queen Mary 2 and completed the first part of our adventure.
We did not have any delays with Customs because we went through that process several days ago while on the ship. We just had to walk off the ship and collect our luggage which was waiting in the terminal. They furnished FREE luggage carts for us to push the bags to our bus (Oops
in England that would be “coach”). The driver loaded them and we were off to London.
It took about 2 hours to reach the Victoria Coach Station and then to unload the suitcases again. We took them through to the curb in front and got a taxi. We gave him the hotel’s name and the street it’s on, and he drove us through various side streets and residential areas with barely a couple of minutes on any main roads. But remarkably we popped up right outside the hotel’s front door just at Noon. David paid him with some of the Pounds we had from our previous UK visit and we got registered into the hotel.
Our room was not going to be ready until 2:00 but they took our luggage and showed us to their breakfast room with a quiet little outdoor terrace in the rear of the hotel. David got directions to a nearby coffee shop and got us a couple of sandwiches. However when he tried to pay using more of our old Pounds, David was told they were not accepted any longer. Apparently the government has replaced their paper 5 & 10 Pound notes with some made of plastic, but he could use a credit card. They said our remaining 30 paper notes can be exchanged at any bank, but the stores are not required to accept them any longer. We will deal with that tomorrow.
He brought the food back and we ate in the breakfast room. Our room was given a priority and was actually ready about 1:00. We got unpacked and settled into our new lodging. It’s not much larger than the cruise ship room, but we will be fine. It turns out that we are staying on Russell Road and just half a block off Kensington High Street (if anyone want to look us up on a map).
It seems like a nice little hotel and the staff has been helpful. In our room we seem to have mastered the technology of the light switch, as well as the digital thermostat in centigrade. There is a slot to place your room key to enable the power in the room (everything goes off when you pull out your room key). We know that any card will work in the slot – even a Cunard room key. However there is also a panel by the front door with pushbuttons that say “All On”, “Relax”, “Spots”, “Bath”, “Bed R”, “Bed L” “Ceiling”, and “Off”. These buttons control all the separate lights throughout the room – including in the bathroom. We have not seen this before although some of you may have. There is also a button outside the bathroom which says “Towel Rail”. This turns on & off a heating element in a metal towel bar inside the bathroom to warm your towel. How about that? And if that isn’t enough gadgetry, there is a button to push to open/close the curtains.
About 2:00 David got directions to the Barclay’s Bank (we get a break on International fees for withdrawing cash). It seemed like a good idea to get some “new cash” which the shopkeepers would accept. The bank was supposed to be a 10-15 minute walk down the main street but somehow he missed it and walked on past. Eventually he got new directions back in the direction where he had come and finally David found the bank. Now we have some valid bills to be able to spend.
Back at the hotel around 3:00, he was also able to report seeing a pub just a block up Kensington High Street, where we decided to go for dinner. But first we had a little rest in the room. We did not have anything special planned for today except getting to the hotel, so we watched a bit of TV, took a little nap, and did some needlework until about 6:00.
We walked over to the “Hand and Flower” for dinner. This seemed to be a classic English pub and wasn’t particularly crowded when we arrived. We got the menu, took a table and placed our order. Right afterward some large group arrived and it became crowded and noisy. But the food was brought to us very tasty and hot – beef pie, mash, and a pitcher of gravy. Along with a drink to wash it down, we had a good English dinner.
Now back in our room in the hotel, we have settled down for the evening. Tune in tomorrow to hear what we do on our first full day in London.
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Jerry and Joyce
Sounds like the disembarking process went smooth. We will enjoy hearing about London. Enjoy!!