London, Day 4 – Back from Paris

…continued from our last day in Paris.


October 9, 2012 (Tuesday) – we pulled into St. Pancras International just before 6 PM and spent some time taking some photos at the station. There is a sculpture there called The Meeting Place. We messed around trying to emulate the embrace of the couple portrayed in the sculpture.

The Meeting Place, St. Pancras International

Afterwards, we wheeled our luggage a short distance to the hotel. It was a good thing I had already practiced the route the other day. The hotel had a completely automated check-in system. All I had to do was provide some identifying information about myself and tap a few buttons before the machine issued the key cards. Very convenient and fast, just the way I like it.

Automated Check-In
Checking in via machine

Alas, there was no way around having to deal with a real person – our room had a problem with a window that wouldn’t close, not to mention it was on the side of the hotel that faced the main road, which meant it would be even noisier. We headed back downstairs and requested a change, and were told that no more rooms were available. Upon pressing the issue, the clerk offered us a disabled-access room on the quiet, residential side of the hotel, with the caveat that we would need to vacate the room if a disabled person needed it. At first, I wasn’t too hot on the idea of an accessible room, but I figured we could just take it now, and change later if necessary. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

First, being a room for the disabled, it was close to the elevator. Second, it was HUGE compared with our first room, likely for accommodating guests with wheelchairs. I loved having all the space to spread out. And, we got to keep the room for the duration of our entire stay. Nice!

With the room matter settled, we took a quick rest and then headed out for dinner. Since we hadn’t really eaten anything since breakfast in Paris, we were pretty hungry and decided to just go to the Pizza Express across the street from the hotel. For a chain pizza restaurant, it was really good. I don’t know, maybe I was just glad that I could order my food in English for a change. Either way, it was a nice meal in a pleasant environment.

PizzaExpress Pizza & Pasta
Pizza and pasta
PizzaExpress Dessert & Coffee
Our meal even came with dessert…

We walked off the meal exploring the area around the hotel. There was a real Tesco this time so we stocked up on some supplies, and I was able to buy a SIM card as well (I used up the Vodafone one in France). We finished the night imbibing on various selections from the hotel bar. Though it was expensive, I required a much-needed release after traveling to Hong Kong, Japan and France – the frustration had been building up from not being able to articulate myself properly, from struggling to speak and understand the local languages, from knowing that others didn’t understand me. I was happy just being able to small-talk with the bartender, to understand the subtleties in his tone-of-voice, for him to understand mine. Yes, it was nice being in an English-speaking environment again.

Next: London, Day 5 – Chinatown, West End Walking, Pub Dinner

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