Travelogue: England & Scotland 2013 – Day 2 [Arrival in London – To the Hotel]

How to get to the Hotel

After we had fetched our luggage from the carrousel [luckily all of it had arrived together with us and without any damage] it was off to the tube station down in the basement of Terminal 4. I had already looked up from here in the US what I had believed was the most convenient [well, I must have confused “cheapest” with “most convenient”] way from Heathrow to our hotel. Our hotel [The Morgan Hotel] suggests on their website 3 different ways:

  • First, by taxi, which would have cost ca. £50
  • Second, by train [Heathrow Express] to Paddington Station, and then by Tube [District Line] to Notting Hill Gate and from there, again by Tube [Central Line], to Tottenham Court Road, and then a 5-minute walk to the hotel
  • Third, and cheapest, by Tube [Piccadilly Line] from Heathrow airport to Holborn and then a 15-minute walk to the hotel.

Well, I had discarded all three alternatives [Taxi too expensive, Heathrow Express plus 2 different Tube lines too much of a hassle changing trains, and Piccadilly Line to Holborn too long to walk] and had, with the help of a London City map plus a Tube map, chosen a fourth way, i.e. by Tube [Piccadilly Line] from Heathrow to Leicester Square, then via the Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road and the on foot to the hotel in Bloomsbury Street, just a tad over 5 minutes to walk: everything easy and without any problems. Well, basically that was correct. What I had forgotten, though, was the fact that in former times I had always travelled on the Tube without any luggage, and I had also forgotten that there’s quite a bit of up and down staircases in the stations when travelling on different lines of the tube, if it’s only to change platforms, and that between the platforms there usually are no escalators but plain and simply staircases. That meant quite a bit of lugging heavy suitcases up or down stairs. And even if it is only 50 pounds per suitcase which you are allowed nowadays in Economy, that means quite a weight when you have to haul that up a staircase. And down a staircase is not (much) easier either. Even on the escalators we had our problems wit two pieces of luggage for each of us [a suitcase and a carry-on – the latter not much less in weight than the suitcases]. What we resorted to, on “normal” staircases and on escalators, was that it was usually me who – one piece of luggage at a time – got that up [or down] while Mary was waiting at one end, guarding the remainder of the luggage. That method meant that we willy-nilly had to leave our suitcases unguarded at one end or the other, but we hoped that nobody would be able to get away with such a heavy piece of luggage – at least not very quickly. And we were lucky: everything turned out fine. But still: when we arrived at the hotel [here we had to carry the luggage up to the second storey, as I, in my stupid misguided ambition, refused the help of the concierge, even if there was no lift] we were quite exhausted and dripping with sweat, in spite of the low temperatures. Well: my own fault!

Getting the Right Tickets

But back to Heathrow and the Tube: we had always planned not to have a car in London [it would have been quite useless what with the traffic there, and in addition to that we’d have had to pay a “congestion charge” for each and every day] and make use of the Tube and the buses instead.

For us who wanted to stay for a week a “Travelcard” was, according to our guide books, the best alternative. [More about tickets, prices and options for public transport in London later, in a separate posting]. It was such an item we now needed to obtain at the Tube station in Heathrow’s Terminal 4, after we had got some British Pounds at an ATM there. We were somewhat undecided: first we went to a queue at an automated self-service ticket machine where we could pay with credit cards. After a while, having made some headway in that queue, we discovered another ticket booth, where you were being attended to by a live person. That looked better to us, and we changed the queues. But this queue was very slow, and we discovered that at the other ticket booths/queues [those for self-service] there was always a London Transport employee around to help. Well, we changed our minds and our queue again. And really, we got efficient help from that employee after we had made our wishes known to him. He pressed all the correct buttons. It was only our credit cards we had to put into the machine ourselves. Couldn’t he have used his own?!  😉  With all that changing queues it took quite a while, but finally we were in possession of a Travel Card for 7 days for zones 1 and 2 plus a return ticket [on that same Travel Card] between Heathrow [zone 6] and zone 2 for the day of our arrival and again for the day of our departure, at a tad less than £35 per person. Not too bad at price at all, considering that a single ticket for zones 1 & 2 on the Tube is £4.50

After we had luckily finished that complete procedure we could finally proceed to the Underground, simply called “Tube” in London. Thank goodness the way there was level and short. And our train was already waiting for us, and it was pleasantly empty, so that we had absolutely no difficulties to find seats. After a wait of about 10 minutes we went off, first below ground to Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and then, after we had left the area of the airport, above ground through the outskirts of London. Next to us we had, for quite a while, a very talkative – to say the least – gentleman from Ireland. As Mary put it in her diary, “He surely has the gift of gab!” But we didn’t mind. Quite the contrary: we were pleasantly being entertained.

After travelling for about 40 minutes we arrived at Leicester Square, and there – as said before – our hauling our luggage really started. But we managed after all. From Leicester Square it was just one stop further, on the Northern Line, and “only” some more staircases and escalators until we finally saw the light of day again at Tottenham Court Road. The only question: where was the way to our hotel? It was here that we noticed for the first time something we found confirmed again and again later: when you need them, street signs are in short supply in London. Not even here, at the intersection of two very big and busy streets, Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, we fiund any street signs! But a man at a news kiosk was helpful and showed us the way, and it was really only just over 5 minutes on foot, even with us trailing our luggage.

In spite of the fact that we had landed ahead of schedule, customs plus getting our tickets and then travelling by Tube to Tottenham Court Road had taken exactly that long that we could check in at the correct time, 2 p.m. One more staircase [our room was on the first storey or what the Amercians would call the second floor] and we were in our room, (quite) exhausted and quite wet with sweat, but happy. [More about the hotel in a later posting]

Um diesen Artikel in Deutsch zu lesen, hier klicken.


8 responses to “Travelogue: England & Scotland 2013 – Day 2 [Arrival in London – To the Hotel]

  1. I’m exhausted. Can we take a rest now that we’ve reached the room?

  2. … das muß ja wirklich ein anstrengender Weg zum Hotel gewesen sein. Ich erinner mich noch an früher, als wir viel mit dem Zug gereist sind – die Schlepperei mit dem Gepäck war immer heftig.

    Sonnige Grüße zu dir nach Texas 🙂

    • Hallo Ocean,
      ja, das war wirklich eine Schlepperei. Zurück waren wir dann klüger und haben uns ein Taxi zum Flughafen genommen.
      Liebe Grüße aus dem heute sehr sonnigen Texas,

  3. Sounds like a great trip! I would love to visit Scotland!

    • It sure was a great trip! And I can recommend Scotland – definitely. We’re planning to go back there for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo [plus Festival] and the Braemar Highland gathering. This year we didn’t have that much time and mainly did Edinburgh.
      Btw, York was great, too. Another city to go back to.
      Best regards from southern Texas,

    • Hi Rhythm,
      Yes, it was quite an experience. But wait till you read about my experience with getting my rental car. That was really something!
      Best regards, and stay cool,

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