2009 TRIP TO ENGLAND, by Colin L. Miller

Intro May 28 May 29 May 30 May 31 June 01 June 02 June 03 June 04 June 05 June 06 June 07 June 08 June 09 June 10 June 11 June 12 June 13 Expense Report

Friday, June 12, 2009

This was my last full day in England. I got up at 7:00 AM to get ready for departure. At 8:30, I checked out and hit the road with the GPS navigating me through Swindon to the M4, then to the A46 (Gloucester Rd.) to the other side of Bath, to a gas station a mile from Hertz [Churchill Bridge Service Station, Lower Bristol Road]. I ended up driving through the city past the streets I'd walked a few days before. An hour from Swindon, I filled up the rental car with 34.65 litres (9.154 gals.) of diesel at 1.039/l ($3.939/gal.), for a total of 36.00 ($63.72 @ 1.77 $ per ). The tank was already half full, so I was getting great mileage, 37.383 MPG.

I didn't need the GPS to find Hertz, which was a few blocks down the road. Total mileage: 342.2. With the car safely returned, I hauled my baggage a mile or so back past the gas station and over the river footbridge to the Bath Spa train station. The sky was overcast and so the going was nice and cool. At the self-serve machine, I got a ticket for London Paddington, 48.00 on the credit card. A few minutes later I was on the train with open seating but no Wi-Fi.

A few minutes after 12:00 PM I got off at the busy and bustling Paddington Station, which was a few blocks northwest of Hyde Park. There was an Underground station here, but it was early and the weather was good, so I did a 2-hour walk through Hyde Park along the north edge of Long Water, taking photos of the waterfowl as I went and watching incoming aircraft head in to a landing at Heathrow, one of which was a huge Airbus A-380.

I continued to Trafalgar Square, and then a few more blocks to the Strand Palace Hotel. At check-in, I got a proximity keycard for room 282. The lobby area was large, with the restaurant and a small shopping mall area. I took the stairs up, down a corridor, and to the room. It was small but comfortable enough, with a single bed and tiny bathroom. The open window looked on to the outdoor interior square which rose up in a rectangular column for several more floors. After a rest, I got a quick late lunch at the McDonald's near Charing Cross (#35 The Strand) before walking across Waterloo Bridge to the London Eye area. I got a ticket for 17.00 and then I got in line for the ride. Thirty minutes later I boarded capsule #22 with about a dozen others all of various nationalities. Some brought their luggage and others talked in foreign tongues on their cell phones. The giant Ferris (actually 'observation') wheel never stopped turning, but it was slow enough to open the capsule doors and allow for boarding or exiting. About fifteen minutes later the capsule was at the apex with a nice panoramic view of London. From here the Waterloo train station, where I departed for Salisbury a few days ago, was almost directly below. Tower Bridge and the Tower of London were too far away to see from here, but there was a good view of Big Ben & Parliament. Finally we got out and into the gift shop. A couple of minutes previously a remote digital camera got a photo of the capsule group. I got the souvenir photo for 10.00. I then exited into the crowded river bank area and walked back to the hotel, where I took it easy, made phone calls, and watched videos on my netbook.

Google street view of McDonald's at Charing Cross

Later, for one last time, I went out for a nighttime walk. The Strand-area local & tourist traffic continued, but now with theater and pub visitors. Pedicabs hurried pedestrians to nearby locations, and police patrolled on small motorcycles. After a while, I'd had enough of the crowds and I navigated back to the hotel to get ready for tomorrow's flight.

Nuclear Power Plant near Railway, Bird at Hyde Park, Parliament, London Eye, View of Parliament

Intro May 28 May 29 May 30 May 31 June 01 June 02 June 03 June 04 June 05 June 06 June 07 June 08 June 09 June 10 June 11 June 12 June 13 Expense Report