Thursday, October 18, 2012

Our (Failed) Attempt to See London

Since the kids weren't as enthused with our nature hike thru Chipping Campden as I had hoped, my original plans of hitting another Cotswolds town or two and exploring before heading to the airport no longer seemed like a good idea for Sunday.  They have, apparently, become city children.  So I made the (mistaken) suggestion of heading into London.  The kids were super excited by the idea and Aidan was talking about Hamleys, a huge toy store he'd heard about through kids at school.  Because yes, that is the whole purpose of going to London - to see a toy store.  

Because we were flying out of Gatwick Airport, just south of London I figured that we would just drive in, park, go to the toy store, have lunch and then go to the airport.  A pretty quick trip in and out but since I haven't been to London (nor have the kids) it would at least give us a little taste of what's there.  That was my plan at least. The kids and I went to have breakfast and Josh went out to tinker with the GPS. 

When we were ready to go Josh said he spoke with the hotel people and they suggested we go into town instead by train.  Apparently there is a congestion fee to pay when driving into the city and there is a lot of traffic heading in as well.  They suggested that we go to Leatherhead and take the train in since that station was relatively close to Gatwick where we had to be later. This already sounded like work. I suggested to Josh maybe we stick with the original plan but he said he just did all this research... Blah blah blah. 

In the end we decided let's just do it.  It took me about 45 mins on my phone to find the actual address for the Leatherhead station as we headed in the direction of the town which is all the GPS had allowed us to enter in.  That should have been a sign.  We struggled with the machine that sells tickets once we got to Leatherhead and probably paid too much. On our 5th attempt to buy the tickets we missed the train and then had to wait another 30 mins for the next one.  Again, a sign that perhaps this was not such a great idea.  

Finally, after waiting a half hour (during which time we figured out what we needed to do when we got off the train), we got on the train. Oh and I should mention that as we waited on the platform we found out that the tracks were closed in between some stops and we would have to take the bus part way.  Our 11:15 train had us to the "final" station by noon and then we got on the bus and sat in traffic.... for over an hour.

As we sat in traffic, Josh and I argued.  It wasn't pretty.  We're normally pretty good travellers together. And believe it or not, the kids were better behaved than he and I were.  He kept telling me that we should get off the bus and I needed to be the one to get off first.  This is because we'd get off as we sat in traffic and not at an actual stop.  I said to him to man up and for him to go first.  Not a good moment for either of us.  Finally someone else made the jump and we followed.

The reason for throwing in the towel?  Well, we only were going to have about 2 1/2 hours in the city to begin with.  By losing an hour plus on the bus we had already cut our time in half and we still had to deal with this traffic on the way back in.  Was it worth risking our flight back to Barcelona?  So by 12:45 we had gotten off the bus, headed to yet another Starbucks for a refresher of coffee for the children (yes, the children, neither Josh nor I were interested in coffee at this point).

We had not made it any further than Wimbleton.  I guess now I can say I've been to Wimbleton???  Even though I have no idea where they actually play tennis at Wimbleton nor did I see any tennis courts.  Thankfully we found a bus within 5 minutes of leaving Starbucks and hopped on.  It was heading to Raynes Station which is where we needed to go to get back on the train.  And once again, we stopped in traffic.  For another hour...

We heard this isn't normal and that there had been a major accident.  Given that I had seen no less than 6 ambulances during the course of these 2 hours leads me to believe, they are right.  Regardless though, it threw off our entire day unfortunately.  We made it back to Raynes Station, hopped on a train and finally at 2:45 made it to lunch.  We made our flight on time and as Aidan said, "we still had an adventure today" which was so true and a very positive outlook on what essentially was a disaster of a day!

So in the end, we never made it to London nor did we get to see more of the Cotswolds for that matter. But as far as a trip goes, this was a great one.  We all had fun, got to see some great new (or really old) places and we will just have to add London in for another time!


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