Greetings again from London! We have been zipping around the city for several days doing some touristy things and some not-so-touristy things. I think at this point we are mostly adjusted to the time change but it is still a bit hard to get up early in the morning. Mrs. Working Stiff has been very pleased at the very fall-like weather here. One note to myself for future visits would be that it would be good to bring a light jacket or sweatshirt even in July or August. Also, the need to bring that umbrella is no joke! Fortunately, we packed (and used) two of them.
The “Tube” or “Underground” has got to be one of the best in the world and is very easy to use. It really is a great way to get around. We came prepared with visitor Oyster cards, which has actually given us a break on the price of rides and makes the whole experience even easier. One tube ride with the Oyster card is (I think), 2.40. BUT – no matter how you many separate rides you take in a day, your total charge will be capped at 6.60. That makes it easier to plan your tube cost. If you are here for 5 days and you plan on using the tube a lot, at least in the city center, the most you can possibly spend is £33. Exchanges are easy and clearly marked and the trains are really quite frequent. Easy!
The money is no big deal either. One Pound Sterling “£1” is currently worth about $1.32, though that can vary day to day. The smallest paper money is the five-pound note, and they have coins for £1 and £2. Cents, or “pence” are decimal, so there are 100 to the pound, with coinage in various amounts. Prices are marked similarly to what we would expect, like a bag of potato chips (“crisps” here) might be £2.10. Nobody would accuse London of being a cheap place to be, but we’ve been surprised at how many things are NOT really expensive. Grocery-wise, primarily. Snacks, butter, a package of blackberries – have all been cheaper than I would have expected in Pennsylvania. I think a can of Coke was 99 pence. That’s about $1.30, so maybe not so cheap, but also not outrageous.
We got to experience an authentic rainy day in London! That accounts for why I don’t have very many good pics of Big Ben or the Houses of Parliament. Also, that area of town was crowded like Times Square so we couldn’t stand to spend much time there. We did come out of the tube and there it was – Big Ben – so here is a picture. I suspect that many people think, as I used to, that Big Ben is the famous tower as shown in my picture. Actually though, Big Ben is the huge bell inside. Specifically, Big Ben is the thirteen-ton bell inside the top of the 320-foot clock tower at the northern end of the Palace of Westminster. The Palace of Westminster is the home of the British Parliament. The tower is called “The Elizabeth Tower”.
There you have it, your London fact for the day.
We are up early, mostly packed, and are off to Paris today via the Eurostar train. We have about a 2-block walk to the Borough tube stop, then about 6 stops north on that one line to the St. Pancras/King’s Cross station. That is one of the major London train stations and is where you get the Eurostar to Paris and other European cities. It is about a 2.5-hour trip to Paris (and UNDER the English Channel)! We plan to just pile into a cab at the Paris Gare du Nord station for what I hope is a 20-minute ride to our apartment there just near Notre Dame.
Nous allons a Paris – a bientot!
The Working Stiff