After our last breakfast at our York B&B, we packed up our things and grabbed a cab to the rail station. As we had about an hour and a half to kill, we figured we’d leave our luggage at the Left Luggage room and do a last walk of the town. The cost was £5 per bag, so we rather quickly nixed that idea. One of the nice things about British rail stations, however, was the free WiFi, so we hunkered down in the waiting room and waited for our train. In order to avoid the luggage re-arrangement headache of the last train ride, D decided to search for a baggage car, while I loaded our carry-ons. Unfortunately, the baggage car was all the way at the other end of the train, so D hurriedly loaded our luggage and jumped back on. It was a smooth ride, with relatively fewer passengers than on our train to York. D managed to work out an algorithm for expediting my data analysis, and so I managed to get it all finished by the time we arrived in London. We were to stay at the Crestfield Hotel, which was literally up a small street across from the rail station, so we were able to get there quite quickly. It was by no means a glamorous looking hotel, but for £50 a night and its proximity to the tube station, it was a pretty decent deal. The only concession for that price was to be a lack of an en-suite bathroom (we’d share or something), but when we arrived, they told us that because we were staying for so long, they put us in an en-suite room, but it’d be a little smaller. A little smaller was definitely right…our room was very small and oddly laid out, with a sink next to the bed, and the toilet and shower in the same little room. Despite its peculiarities, we were happy to have our own bathroom and a cheap price.
Unfortunately, no WiFi at the hotel, so we packed up our laptops and decided to take in the city, while also looking for a good WiFi spot. The tube station was just at the end of the our street. We bought our Oyster cards (essentially pre-paid transit cards), when a kindly fellow gave us two one-day travel cards that were good for the day. He was likely on his way out to the rail station and didn’t need them anymore, but it was still nice to not have to dig into our Oyster cards just yet. We first headed down to Covent Garden, a place we only briefed wandered through on our last visit to London. It was only a few stops from where we’re staying at King’s Cross, so we were soon out and walking around. The first very noticeable fact was that we were definitely in a city—a very crowded city. There was just a sea of people wandering around the pedestrianized streets. A slew of street performers were out in force, everything from a “headless” man to a dog man in a basket. We wandered around the market, before settling on an Italian place for a bit of lunch. We found a Pret-A-Manger which had free WiFi, so we grabbed a seat and got a little bit of work done.
We then ended up wandering down through Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, squeezing our way through the crowds of people—just an astonishing number of people, particularly in comparison to the relative quiet of York and Edinburgh. We made our way down to Bond Street, the London equivalent of Fifth Avenue. In my research, I’d looked up good pubs or ones that have some historic value and earmarked them in my notes (yes, nerdy I am). We thought we’d have a look for one in the area called the Red Lion. Our search took us through a posh shopping district, one street which seemed to be geared exclusively towards men (high end shaving products, ties, mother of pearl shoe horns, etc.). The Google map I’d marked on my iTouch seemed to be wrong, and after endless searching, we ended up heading to a nearby pub for one last drink before heading back to the hotel.