London: Day One

After reaching the main part of the station, we headed for the ticket office to pick up our passes for the London Underground.  Holly had pre-paid for our passes before we left the US, and she had vouchers to turn in here to get the passes.  Just as we reached the front of the ticket queue, I noticed a screen that said that pre-paid tickets were to be collected in the next office over, so we went over there, but that turned out not to include our pre-paid tickets, which were back in the original room, so Holly went to stand in line again while I got left to watch the luggage.

After she returned with our passes, we set about finding some lunch.  The station had only fast food so opted for some Burger King, then used the Waterloo "loo" which cost us 20 pence each. 

We then navigated to Paddington station via the Bakerloo line, where we changed to the Circle line to take us to the Edware Road stop right by our hotel, the Hilton London Metropole.

The hotel is very large, and the lobby is like the UN, with people from every crner of the earth working and lounging there.  We checked in, having pre-paid for our room via, where I saved a small fortune versus using a conventional site.

We finally got a hotel room with a King-sized bed, and though it has a not-so-lovely view of the antennas and air conditioners on the next building over, I can't complain for the price we paid.

We dropped our bags down, then set off for Herrod's, via the Underground.  The store was jam-packed with other tourists, and a glance at the prices told us we wouldn't be buying much.  The exchange rate has rendered us rather poor here, as it's over 2 dollars to the pound at the time I write this.  Most food-stuffs in London are priced as they wouuld be in dollars, so effectively, everything is at least twice the price as it would be in the U.S.  For instance, at Burger King, my whopper meal was 5.5 pounds, or 11 dollars.  Needless to say, we won't be dining out at any fancy restaurants while we're here.

Herrod's is filled with all sorts of things you've never seen, or considered buying, like a $600 Burberry scarf, or a pair of identical siamese kittens for $3000.  At least the 2:1 exchange rate makes it easy to calculate how bad you're being ripped off for everything you buy.

We spent about 2 hours walking through the massive store, which is the fanciest store I've ever been in, by far.  If Wal-Mart stores were appointed that nicely, I might actually shop in them too.  All we bought were some cat treats, and a chocolate bar, both of which were reasonably priced.  The owner, Mohammed Al-Fayed, passed by us with his passal of security people, as we were walking through the food hall.

We caught the tube back to our hotel in time to meet Katrine, the Danish girl that I met in St. Petersburg, Russia two and a half years ago.  She's getting a graduate degree here in London now. Holly and I walked to a pub near Oxford Circus with her, and after a pint of cider for me, and a Coke for Holly, we found an Italian restaurant for dinner.  I started with some bruschetta, which had an absurd amount of tomatoes on it, and followed it with a ham and pepper foccacia sandwich.  Holly had some ravioli in butter sauce, which she said was good, though a bit too much butter.  After a few hours of chit-chat, we said goodbye to Katrine, and caught the tube back to our hotel, where we fell asleep immediately.