“Focus on the journey, not the destination.” – Greg Anderson
Today is supposed to be “Castle Day.” We have over-ambitious goals of hitting both Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. This is a perfect example of how unrealistic planning from home can be. Windsor alone is worth a full day, but I, in my Tudor frenzy, think that despite the fully loaded plans, we will succeed.
We, in fact, make it to neither castle. *sigh* This is not due to lack of persistence or of trying, however.
- Error #1 – we sleep in. We’re supposed to wake up bright and early, catch the train, and arrive right when the first castle opens. Instead, we sleep in, take our sweet time getting ready, take our sweet time eating lunch (yes, it’s already lunch time) and take our sweet time moseying to the Tube station.
- Error #2 Obstacle #1– (Not our fault.) We make our connections all the way out of the city where we’re supposed to catch an overground train the rest of the way to Hampton Court. Sure enough, with “Murphy ” in tow, we finally arrive and learn our destination platform is closed. Of course it is. On top of this, there are absolutely no directive signs, because apparently the English just know where to go.
- Obstacle #2 – We eventually learn we have to catch a bus instead. After finally deciphering this new puzzle (remember… with no signs or directions) we find the bus stop only to learn that we’ve missed the bus by two minutes. Two. Minutes. By this point we figure the gods are against us and resign ourselves to the fact castle day is not going to happen. We’ll try tomorrow!
We still have the entire afternoon, before meeting Amit out in his ‘quaint village’ later that evening, so we head down to tourist central – Westminster. It’s a quick journey surrounded by Chelsea soccer fans wearing layers of blue clothing, grasping team flags. The flood of people pile out at the Stadium and we’re left with the few other passengers that have plans not involving soccer. At Westminster, the scene completely changes. Here, rather than the busy commuters on the Tube, the party-crowd in Covent Garden, indie-crowd in Camden, or soccer fans on the train, we see hoards of tourists, maps and cameras at hand. We, naturally, join the other amateur photographers snapping shots of the London Eye, Big Ben, Parliament, the Thames, and Westminster Abbey.
We relax a bit near the Thames until we can’t feel our fingers anymore, then head in the direction of Whitehall, past the National Gallery to Trafalgar Square and end at Piccadilly. The name “Piccadilly Circus,” first, makes me think of a Chucky Cheese-like place back home with the name. I can’t help it, I’m sorry. Of course, I don’t find robotic animals, children hyped on sugar, and pizza on the floor, but instead find myself in a mini Times Square looking area, with giant LCD advertisements. This part of the city is alive as Friday evening settles. Watching people rush about (because Londoners certainly don’t stroll… they rush) we remember our plans.
Time to get going, we have a date with the countryside.