Friday, July 14, 2006

Travelogue pts 1 & 2

I'm finally beginning to get my head back together post-vacation. That's good, since I taught my first class of the new term last night. I don't think I babbled too much.

Thanks, Secret Pal!
First, an overdue thank you to my fabulous secret pal. I arrived home to a big ol' box containing another hat box - larger than the first, so perhaps it's a trend? Inside, I found an incredible 8 skeins of Briggs & Little single-ply wool. Wow! It's a zillion yards. My pal also sent me two cool patterns - the felted Packy Sack and Fiber Trends Marvelous Mohair shawls and afghans.

The Travelogue, Pt. 1 - getting there
When we decided to go to England back in February or so, we snagged a cheap airfare by flying in and out of Vancouver, BC instead of departing from Seattle. Even with train tickets to Vancouver, it was substantially cheaper to do it that way. What I didn't take into account was that being in transit for over 24 hours is no fun.

We left chez nous at 6:00 am to catch a bus to downtown Seattle so we could catch our train to Vancouver. We were feeling pretty chipper despite not having gotten a ton of sleep the night before.

The train to Vancouver was completely sold out. Our car included two young families travelling with their combined 5 or 6 children, who all looked to be under the age of 4. The kids really weren't bad, and neither were the parents, but by the end of the 3.5 hour train journey, Trent started mumbling "roast babeeeeeee" everytime they launced another chorus of whines.

The Vancouver train station is an information-free zone. There's not a damn thing there to tell you how to get anywhere else. Maybe they're trying to help the taxi industry? We eventually sorted out that the SkyTrain would take us downtown, and then we'd know where we were. We flopped ourselves and our increasingly heavy-feeling packs down and had some coffee (tea for me).

then wandered down to Denman St. to have some sushi. Before sushi, we stopped by the library. An extremely helpful reference librarian told me how to take public buses to the airport (which is well outside of the city) while Trent caught part of the Argentina - Mexico match in the community center. After some tasty cheap Vancouver sushi, we walked to the bus stop and headed to the airport.

Then things started going downhill. Maybe it was the sushi, maybe it was something we ate the night before, or maybe it was just the stress of travelling on too much caffeine and not enough sleep. Whatever the cause, Trent and I both had very unpleasant digestive trouble and felt completely awful by the time we boarded our plane for Calgary.

For the first time ever, my carry-on was searched due to my knitting supplies. The bamboo needles (with sock in progress) didn't cause any problems, but the teeny crochet hook I was carrying for dropped stitches did require closer inspection. I lost one of my knitting needles when they took everything out to look at the hook, too, so it's a good thing I was carrying extras.
The Calgary airport is vast and kind of creepy. At 8:00 on a Sunday night, there was hardly a soul there. To get from terminal to terminal, they've built a passenger habitrail along the concourse with all the shops and restaurants, so you can see the open food places, but can't get to them without leaving the security area. On the bright side, the bathrooms have motion sensor soap dispensers, which cracked me up.

The flight was totally uneventful. We both managed to sleep, which was a real blessing considering how whacked we were feeling.

We arrived in London, stood in an interminable line to go through immigration, and then sailed on into the madness of Heathrow. We took the undergound into the city (rather than the express train) because a) I'm cheap and b) I had directions from the tube station, not the other train station. We got off in Russell Square, and I consulted the conveniently placed map and found our way to our B&B by dead reckoning (and some luck).

Pt. 2 - London
We stayed at the Jesmond Hotel in the Bloomsbury neighborhood. It was a great location, the food was good, and they had free internet. The room was tiny and four floors up, but I suppose you can't be too picky about these things.

We mostly walked around London. On our full day there we did not go to any museums, although we did see Trafalgar Square

which had these cool constructions in it.

We also saw the Parliment building and Big Ben. Note the pole of CCTV cameras in the Big Ben picture. You're ALWAYS on candid camera in London. (This was true in Yorkshire, too.)

It was sort of a drizzly day, and Trent felt compelled to acquire a rainhat.

I dragged Trent to Liberty of London, where I cooed over the fabric but declined to buy any of the very beautiful, very expensive cotton (18.95 pounds/yard, which makes it over $30/yard). And, of course, we ate and drank in pubs.

We also went to Marks and Spencers and bought biscuits. The M&S Jaffa Cakes are very delicious, as are the jam custard creams.

Before we left London, we went to the one exhibit I really wanted to see, the British Library. It has a cool statue of Newton out front.

Inside, Trent and I both got completely geeked by the exhibit. I was all atwitter to see the original Guttenberg indulgence, and Trent was beside himself about their incredibly cool Turning the Pages software.

From the library, we headed to King's Cross to take a train to York. Stay tuned for Part 3.


Anonymous perkster said...

hooray! now i can travel from the safety of my very own home. my new best friend is here, too--air conditioning! : )

more! more!

one day i'll go places...

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Trent said...

I don't think it was the sushi, cutie pie. I think it was the pizza with partially fermented turkey teriyaki meatballs. Urp.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Camera Obscura said...

Marks and Sparks, darling. What, no Harrods?

Digestive biscuits are the best thing to attempt to keep food on an upset tummy, but obviously you were over the ick by the time you hit London. I just wish I didn't have to pay $3.50 for a tube of them at the importer's here (we won't discuss what they get for a tube of Wine Gums or a teeny envelope of Jelly Babies.)

We want the sheep pix!

8:30 AM  

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