In January 2016 I took a trip to London with my daughter Samantha. I was so excited, this was my first real trip to London besides a brief layover. After the long, exhausting flight from Dallas to London, with a stopover in Atlanta, we were finally in London. Our hotel (Grosvenor) had an entrance right in Victoria Station. We traversed the huge Heathrow terminals, making our way through customs, down to the Underground station.
This is when the adventure began.
I will admit right now that I am not the best sign reader out there. I can keep my bearings on which way we are traveling pretty good, but for some reason, the art of reading passing signs is beyond me. We made a good pair because although she is directionally challenged, she excels at sign reading. Our train trip started at Heathrow terminal, one end of the line, and somehow made it all the way to the other end of the line before we were through. I think we rode pretty much all of the colored train lines in the Greater London area!
If you have not ridden the London Underground, let me tell you, it is HUGE.
Every line has a different color and name. The map looks like a giant bowl of spaghetti. We got onto the line that we thought would get us to Victoria Station. Wrong! So we got off and got on another line. Wrong again! Yes, we tried another line, not just once, but several of them. We got off and on the train over 5 times. Remember that during this whole fiasco we are both dragging around a humongous suitcase that weighs a ton.
Then the unthinkable happens.
We lost one of the little wheels on the bottom of my daughter’s suitcase. She ended up dragging the suitcase along behind her until I took over. On the bright side, we did find out how nice and chivalrous most of the gentlemen are in London. Every time we struggled with our luggage, some nice man would stop and take it from us. I will be forever grateful to all of the gentleman that helped us tote those bricks up and down stairs.
Which brings me to my next subject, STAIRS! Does London not believe in elevators? We took so many stairs and escalators. Up and down, dragging our suitcases behind us.
I was totally exhausted by the third stop, and about to drop dead by the fifth. This is when a super sweet conductor found us staring blankly at one of the Tube maps. After asking us where our destination was, he dragged our suitcases to the correct train and put us on. He then took us to the map on the train (every car has one over the seats) and pointed out each station we would pass and which one was ours. He was looking like an angel to me by this point. If it wouldn’t have freaked him out, I would have flung my arms around him and given him a hug.
We had done it! Sort of..
Victoria Station at last. You might think the story is happy ending here. Not! We got off the train and made our way up (yes, more stairs) to the main station area. From here we knew our hotel was close. We drug our suitcases up a few more flights of stairs into the cold London streets. Let me tell you, at that moment, it didn’t matter how cold, tired and frustrated I was, it was the most amazing feeling standing there looking out upon a city I had only read about. For a few minutes, all was right in my world.
Then we took off down the street to find our hotel. We walked what felt like a few miles looking for the hotel entrance. We actually walked around a city block to end up on the same corner in front of Victoria Station. Still no hotel. We broke down and asked a cab driver where the hotel was. He gave us a strange look and pointed back into the station entrance. So, once more we dragged our suitcases back down the stairs into the train station. This station was huge. People are always on the go and reminded me of an anthill with all the workers busily moving about.
This time we did take the time to find a worker (from a food stand) and get directions. We were pointed to a very unassuming door on the other side of the station. We had done it in only 2 1/2 hours (what should have been a 30-minute trip).
The rest of the trip was excellent. You can read all about it in another blog post. So be sure and subscribe to be notified when it is published. Thank you for reading about my misadventures and get out there and make your own memories!