Letter from London
I would have posted a message from there but the dial-up connection was terribly slow, and I was too thrifty to pay the 15 pounds a day or whatever it was for a high speed connection at the hotel.
I took Continental Airlines No. 28, Newark to London Gatwick the other night. The flight was late taking off, but otherwise uneventful, it you don't consider the cow in front of me who reclined her seat as far as it could go. Not good for my 6 foot three inch knees. I rattled her seat pretty good every time I got up to express my thanks for her courtesy.
Night flights to Europe are pretty cool. You take off in darkness, then the long pre-dawn, then the dawn, then full-fledged morning as you arrive. Immigration and customs at Gatwick was fast, efficient.
I took the very good Gatwick Express train into town. It costs 25 pound r/t, which is not terribly cheap, but it is worth it because it leaves every 15 minutes, and runs fast right into Victoria Station, right in the center of south London.
I needed to take the Underground ( subway ) one station to Green Park station. The ticket area at the Victoria station was a crowded mess. I waited on line and asked for a " carnet " of ten tickets, and I had done on the last visit, but the guy at the window said that they didn't sell them anymore. I could buy a single ticket for three pounds (!) or I could buy an Oyster Card, an electronic ticket that can be recharged. When you pay with the Oyster Card, the single zone fare is one pound fifty pence, about $2.80, which is no bargain either, but which is better than the alternative.
You pay a deposit of 3 pound for your Oyster Card and then can recharge as needed. I could have sold it back to them today, but I kept it, as I plan on returning to London and it is a neat souvenir.
Londoners complain a lot about their Underground. But I have never had a bad experience on it. The trains run very frequently, and they have nice cushioned seats, should you be lucky enough to get one.
I took the Victoria Line one stop to Green Park, schlepped my gear to the Athenaeum Hotel, and crashed a bit. Later, I went down to Speaker's Corner.
I must depart now, because as on Sunday, I'm pretty beat.
Tomorrow: Speaker's Corner