London 2012 - Day 4

Submitted bydkranker onMon, 09/24/2012 - 17:05

Left early from the room as planned to try and get a full English breakfast near the Queensway Tube entrance. Unfortunately, it wasn't open yet so we went back to the room and decided to pack the remaining items up and drop off what we could with our bags already checked in at the train station. From the train station, we took a cab to the pickup point for the Stonehenge Tour, taking only a few items with us on the tour bus. The first tour bus took us to Victoria Station, where we were split up based on our tours and then got on a similar bus that left for Bilsbury, where Stonehenge is located. We waited for quite a while then finally started off. The bus ride was at least an hour and a half, and we went over the Hammersmith "Flyover", an overpass or elevated roadway that goes over an area of London to the south. We tried to get some rest on the way there, but I do recall looking out and passing through a town called Twikenham, and later past a turn for Windsor Castle. We saw several Thatched roofs on houses near the River Avon, and we got a few pictures and video of the ride where there were open areas of the English country side and sheep, dairy cows, and horses. Our driver was named Benson, he came from Ghana and he gave us a little guided tour out of the city. He told a few jokes and was helpful with answering any questions, and later giving directions. Since he's a bus driver, and not a cab driver, he is only allowed to drop off at specific points. Stonehedge sits out on top of a slight hill, but there are higher points around. It's surrounded by several burial mounds and an earth berm ditch, with marker stones further away from the main structure. We were only allowed to walk around it in a pre-determined walk way, you can't get real close up, but they have an audio tour that you can listen to as you walk. We walked at our own pace and could spend as much time at any point we wanted, we took some time to get some pictures and video of the site. There are a few examples of the stone you can touch near the entrance. Stonehedge is owned by the Minister of Defense and we saw several military jets fly over while we were there. There is a gift shop there and picked up a few things, and as we left we grabbed a sandwich from the cafe that is there. We got back on the bus and headed back into central London. Since we hadn't got a chance to go to Harrods, and they were going to leave us off at Glouster Station, we asked Benson what the best way to get there was, we had planned on taking the undergound, but he said just walking would be faster, about 5 minutes. It's hard to say if he was right, it was a straight walk, and it does take time to get down the stairs for the tube, wait for one to come by, then wait to get out a little bit; so he was probably right. We took a look around in Harrods and got some almonds on the first floor, second floor had the money exchange, and it was time to get some Euros to have on hand for the trip to Paris. We took a cab back to St. Pancras Station, but on the way I had the cab driver stop at a couple locations to get some specific shots for a photo project. Boarding only took a little while, we waited in the station lounge area for the train to arrive at Platform 5. We found coach number 4 by walking down the platform (the trains pull up to lines and so the cars are identified on the concrete floor). There was someone already sitting in our seats but he found out he had the wrong ticket and was on the wrong train. We rode south though London on the train and went through several tunnels, after we'd been under one for quite a while, we assumed we'd crossed the channel by the time that had passed. There of course are no road signs or any other forms of recognizing you're in France, but we slowed down a little over land and the country side was somewhat different. We were welcomed in French over the loadspeaker first, but later English with the same message. Most of the signage we found was in English also, but French first always of course. We headed straight for the Taxi's, they wait in lines outside the station. French driving is very fast and there aren't many rules, people honk, yell out the window, and cut people off commonly. Our driver drove fast and liked to listen to loud music and talk on his iPhone. We grabbed some milk at a cafe inside train station for breakfast tomorrow, but just ended up drinking it because we didn't have a refrigerator in the room. We got room 121 of the Reims Hotel and paid up for all days, so if we had to leave in a hurry, we could. We took a look the itinerary and made some plans but it was late by this time and we needed some rest. We had a small bag of laundry plus what we were wearing that probably needed washed in the morning.