Eurotrip 2014, Part 2: Touchdown in London and a View from the Shard

Flash Forward: A View from the Shard

June 28–29, 2014: The day of my trip had finally arrived. I kissed Jen and Heidi goodbye and hopped on a train to Newark for my 10 p.m. flight. I was a little concerned that they had shut down the monorail service to the airport from the train station for repairs, but the temporary shuttle service they set up ran smoothly and I got to the airport in plenty of time.

As I went through security, I was apparently in some sort of express lane because I didn’t have to take my shoes off or empty my pockets or anything. In fact, the TSA agent yelled at me when I started to do so. I reached my gate with a couple of hours to spare, so I passed the time in a Heineken lounge. The time flew by, and before I knew it, we were wheels up.

I tried to sleep on the flight but I’ve never been very good at that; I think I managed a few winks here and there. I normally prefer an aisle seat when flying, but I found that an aisle seat makes it nearly impossible to sleep because you have people bumping into you all night as they walk up and down the aisle, so for this flight I chose a window seat. The downside was that I was sitting next to someone who refused to stand up when I needed to exit my seat, forcing me to climb over him and, at one point, causing me to spill water all over myself. Oh well, at least it dried by the time we landed.

After touching down in London I stopped at a machine to purchase an Oyster Card for the London Underground (aka, the tube) and put enough money on it to get me through two weeks of riding London’s public transportation system. The nice thing about the Oyster Card is that when you’re ready to go home, you can turn it in for a full refund of the amount you didn’t spend. After getting that squared away I hopped on the tube, which was conveniently located right beneath the airport, and headed for my destination. London is very big, so it took me about 45 minutes to get to my stop (luckily I didn’t have to switch lines, which would have been cumbersome while dragging two-week’s worth of luggage). Overall, I found a ride on the tube to be much more pleasant than riding on New York or Philly subways. Then again, I hadn’t yet experienced the pleasure of being sardined into an overheated car on the Picadilly line during rush hour. 🙂

Upon exiting the tube station it was about a 10-minute walk to my apartment building. I arrived early and wouldn’t be able to check in for another couple of hours, so I left my luggage in the lobby and decided to take a walk to King’s Cross and St. Pancras train stations. With two hours to kill, it was a good opportunity to get the lay of the land and figure out where I would need to report for all of those 6 a.m. excursion departures on my schedule.

The walk over was cold, windy, and rainy. The rain would be a recurring theme during my stay as England definitely lived up to its wet reputation, but the temperature thankfully warmed up for the rest of my London fortnight. I first encountered St. Pancras; its facade dominates the area and can be seen from a good distance down the street.

St. Pancras train station in all its Gothic glory.

Hotel at St. Pancras

I then made my way to King’s Cross…

King’s Cross Train Station

…which looks really cool inside:

King’s Cross

I couldn’t leave King’s Cross without seeking out Platform 9 3/4. It wasn’t very hard to find; I just had to look for the long line of people waiting to get their photos taken.

Next Stop: Hogwarts

By this point I was feeling pretty hungry; I hadn’t eaten since our little breakfast on the airplane. I didn’t want to eat a full meal—I figured I’d have dinner later—so I stopped at a food kiosk outside King’s Cross station, where I ordered some very tasty garlic fries (or chips, as they call them in England). That was all I had planned to order, but then I saw something I could not resist—a chocolate cronut. Although I live near New York, where cronuts were invented, I had never eaten one, so I wasn’t about to pass up the chance, and it looked delicious.

This chocolate cronut did not disappoint.

I then headed back to my apartment building to check in after first trying unsuccessfully to find a trash can anywhere near King’s Cross. I did see a person walking around picking up trash, which led me to wonder: Do they just drop their trash on the ground here? I decided to keep the trash with me and throw it out when I got back to my room.

After checking in, one of the front desk attendants led me up three flights of stairs to my flat. I had requested a room on the top floor after reading some reviews of thin walls, hoping that it would be quieter without anyone being over top of me. As I dragged my heavy luggage up an increasingly narrow stairwell, I was beginning to regret that decision, knowing that I would have to make this climb for two weeks. But in the end I was glad I chose it because it felt very private and I never heard much noise up there.

I unpacked a bit and then caught a short nap before my visit to The Shard since I had been awake for the better part of 24+ hours. I wound up skipping dinner, figuring that sleep was more important, but before long, it was time to catch the tube down to central London. I had an 8 p.m. reservation at The Shard, which is the final entry time of the day for the view from the top. During the summer, that’s the best time to go because you can stay up there until after dark, which means you can enjoy a bird’s eye view of London both during the day and at night, with a beautiful sunset in between.

The Shard is the tallest building in the European Union, so naturally, the views from the top are stunning, and I was lucky that the skies cleared up for me. The only downside, from a photographer’s perspective, is that you have to take all of your photos through glass. I did my best to minimize glares and smudges in the following photos (click on any image to open up a fullscreen gallery):

I headed home a little after 10 p.m. and got back around 11, calling it an early night since I was basically running on fumes by this point. It was time to catch up on some of that sleep I’d lost on the flight over so I could wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of London in the morning.

Looking Up at The Shard

View more of my photos from London.

Related Posts:

Writer, traveler, photographer, hiker, film/TV addict, amateur chef, casual gamer, and occasional tennis & saxophone player . . . in real life I do web design.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Europe, Travel, United Kingdom
2 comments on “Eurotrip 2014, Part 2: Touchdown in London and a View from the Shard
  1. Alli Blair says:

    That chocolate cronut looks delicious!!! Great pics!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Follow Michael Rappa on WordPress.com
Archives
Categories

Join 296 other followers

Instagram Feed
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 This is Mount Hood looming over the city of Portland, shot from my viewpoint in the Japanese Garden. A few days after this photo was taken, I drove all the way out to Mount Hood to stay at the famous Timberline Lodge (aka Overlook Hotel) near its summit. #cities #Japanesegarden #landscapes #mounthood #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates #mountains
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 A rock garden in Portland's Japanese Garden. #Japanesegarden #landscapes #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates #rockgardens #zengardens
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 Waterfall cascading into a pond in Portland's Japanese Garden. #Japanesegarden #landscapes #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates #ponds
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 Portland's Japanese Garden is so sublime that you almost forget you’re in a major city. #Japanesegarden #landscapes #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 This was taken at Portland's International Rose Test Garden, which I passed through on my way to the Japanese Garden. #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates #roses #flowers #InternationalRoseTestGarden
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 Silhouette of the Portlandia statue in downtown Portland. It is the second largest copper statue in the country after the Statue of Liberty. #cities #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates #landmarks #statues
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 Tree-lined street in downtown Portland, near the apartment where I stayed last summer. #cities #landscapes #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates
Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017 Another prairie dog shot, this one in the iconic standing pose. Not as sharp as I would have liked, but not too bad for handheld at a 250 mm focal length. #animals #devilstower #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography #prairiedogs #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildlife #Wyoming
Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017 There is a giant field beneath Devils Tower that is entirely covered with prairie dogs. I was so mesmerized by the little critters with their cute screeching noises that I almost forgot I was there to visit the tower. #animals #devilstower #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography #prairiedogs #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildlife #Wyoming
Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017 This shot only features the top of Devils Tower, but I liked the variety of colors in the landscape. #DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #travel #buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica #RoadTrips #hiking #colors
Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017 A closeup shot of climbers scaling Devils Tower. Pretty soon, climbing will no longer be necessary because, according to a sign I saw at the site, they are apparently installing an elevator to the top. Although it would be neat to see the top of the tower, I think it’s unfortunate that they are going to ruin its appearance with an elevator apparatus. I’m glad that I was able to see Devils Tower in all its natural glory before this happens. #buttes #devilstower #hiking #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography  #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #Wyoming #climbing
Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017 A view of Devils Tower from my hike around the base. This is the opposite side of the tower from the shot I posted yesterday. The black dots in the sky are birds. #DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #travel #buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica #RoadTrips #hiking
Devils Tower, Wyoming - August, 2017 A lifelong dream sparked by 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' was finally realized when I visited Devils Tower last August--40 years (and many plates of sculpted mashed potatoes) after I first saw the tower on film. I had no idea as I hiked around Devils Tower that just two days later there would be a 40th anniversary screening of the film at the tower itself. Just missed it! #DevilsTower #Wyoming #NationalMonuments #CloseEncounters #travel #buttes #landscapes #photography #UnitedStates #NorthAmerica #RoadTrips
Deadwood, South Dakota - August, 2017 I chose to stay in Deadwood during my three nights in South Dakota because I was a huge fan of the HBO show and have always been fascinated with the Wild West. I thought it would be cool to walk in the footsteps of Deadwood’s famous residents. The drive in to town was interesting, as I steadily climbed the Black Hills while passing “Bighorn Sheep Crossing” signs. I only had time to explore the main strip because I spent most of my visit taking day trips out of town, so it’s not really fair to render a judgment without having taken the time to fully check out everything Deadwood had to offer. Still, I found it to be kind of a disappointment, mostly just your average casino town, which isn’t really my cup of tea. Nevertheless, I saw several points of interest during my walks around town, such as the spots where Wild Bill was shot and where his assassin was caught, the Bullock Hotel that was built by Seth Bullock after the events of the show, and a few establishments named after notable people and places such as Charlie Utter and the Gem Theater. The recreated “gunfights” in the middle of town were also neat. #deadwood #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #SouthDakota #Travel #UnitedStates #wildwest #historictowns #blackhills #oldwest
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota - September, 2017 This is a zoomed-in view of Mount Rushmore from a lookout point a couple of miles away on Iron Mountain Road, a scenic mountain drive that I highly recommend taking before heading to the monument. If you go south to north, you will drive through a tunnel that perfectly frames Mount Rushmore; makes for a memorable photo. This shot may not look like a panorama due to its more squarish shape, but it was stitched together from two different photos. #IronMountainRoad #MountRushmore #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #panoramas #Photography #roadtrips #Scenic #SouthDakota #Travel #UnitedStates #mountains
Michael is reading…
Love Travelling

Travel diaries providing inspiration for planning the perfect trip

Wanderlust Travel & Photos Blog

Experiencing the World One Trip at a Time

Evelina

by Evelina Di Lauro

Natalie Breuer

Natalie. Writer. Photographer. Etc.

aviation, sport & street foo-shmoo... whatever...

an engineer's photographic dilemmas

french ideas

Fine places in France and around the world.

Book 'Em, Jan O

Ghosts, Tall Tales & Witty Haiku!

globetrottingteen

If travel is an addiction, I'm afflicted.

Stories

Rick Mallery

%d bloggers like this: