Eurotrip 2014, Part 14: Canterbury, Greenwich, and More London

Since I’ll be returning to London in three weeks, I thought it might be a good idea to actually try and finish the journal of my previous trip, which I began writing oh so long ago

July 9, 2014: After our visits to Leeds Castle and Dover it was time to head to Canterbury, home of the famed tales by Chaucer. We parked and walked through the charming pedestrian market area to get to the cathedral. Unfortunately, we were denied access to the cathedral because the BBC was shooting some TV show there, so that was a bummer. We had to settle for the crypts, which we only had 15 minutes to explore before they closed. The crypts were really neat, but the feeling of being rushed did not make for a pleasant visit.

I then headed back into town and ate a late lunch at an outdoor French café, enjoying a dish of beef bourignon. Later I would discover that I had left my umbrella at the café—and an umbrella is not a good thing to be without in England. Oh well, stuff happens when you travel. Luckily, it didn’t rain before I was able to buy a new one back in London the next day. Anyway, here are some photos from my visit to Canterbury.

The next stop after Canterbury was Greenwich, London, home of Greenwich Mean Time, at zero degrees longitude. We waited here to catch a boat that would take us along the Thames back into central London. In the meantime I walked around and snapped some photos:

I also tried unsuccessfully to use a bathroom in a restaurant. I’m well aware that most places in Europe either charge you for the bathroom or will only allow patrons to use it. However, a large restaurant along the river had a sign on the outside advertising bathrooms, so I thought this place was an exception, especially since I had just watched one of my fellow tour members head upstairs to use it. So I headed up, figuring if anyone said anything I would just buy a soda or something, but as soon as I began ascending the stairs a restaurant employee came running across the restaurant to yell at me. I would have offered to buy something, but this person’s behavior irritated me so much that I just left.

Speaking of bathrooms, here’s a travel tip: never ask for a ‘restroom’ in the U.K. because nobody will know what the hell you’re talking about. One person thought I was looking for a place to rest. 🙂

Eventually the boat arrived and we were off. Here are some photos from the cruise:

I was disappointed to discover that it was a simple commuter boat rather than the cruise with tea, wine, and scones that had been promised on the web site through which I had booked the tour. This, on top of the denied Canterbury Cathedral entry and arrival to the crypts at closing time, as well as other missed itinerary points in Dover, left me feeling a bit ripped off, so I complained to Premium Tours. As it turns out, my booking was secured through a third-party web site that contained outdated itinerary information, but Premium Tours still made good on my disappointment by giving me a 25-percent refund, which was much appreciated.

Overall, I booked four tours through Premium Tours and found them to be a very good tour company. Although this tour was somewhat disappointing, I very much enjoyed the Bath/Stonehenge tour (worth every penny), and the Paris tour allowed me to see a lot of the city in just one day.

In the end, however, I felt as if I booked a couple of tours too many and did not spend enough time in London itself, so one bit of advice I would give someone coming to London is not to overbook yourself on tours that take you out of the city . . . unless you don’t care about seeing that much of London, then book away!

I decided to depart the cruise near the London Eye ferris wheel since I had pre-purchased a voucher to ride it and this would probably be the last day I would have a chance to do so. I waited in line for a half hour only to get to the front and be told that my voucher was no good, that I needed to go to the building nearby and exchange it for an actual ticket. I had naturally assumed that I could simply present my voucher to the ticket taker, just as I had done with my voucher to enter the Tower of London, both of which had been purchased from the same tour company: The Original Tour. The tour company should have made it clear that the London Eye voucher did not work the same as the Tower of London voucher, so this was partially their fault.

It was also the fault of the ticket takers at the London Eye, who should never have allowed me to enter the line with just a voucher: the attendant confirmed this, but she was completely unsympathetic that their screwup caused me to waste a half-hour of my time–she refused to allow me to go get a ticket and return to the front of the line; I would have to go to the back of the line and wait all over again. So I left the line (which was even longer now than when I had first queued up), and entered the building to get my ticket–until I saw how long the line was there. At that point I was so fed up that I said “screw it” and left; I had better things to do with my life. I ended up not using the voucher at all.

To be honest, once I realized the London Eye cars were enclosed and that any photos would be taken through glass, I wasn’t too upset about missing the ride (I had already gotten a bird’s eye view of London at The Shard anyway); I was just annoyed about wasting my money on the voucher. The lesson here: if you purchase vouchers in advance from ‘The Original Tour’ company, make sure you know which vouchers are good for entry, and which must be exchanged for a ticket.

After that debacle I decided to just do some more walking before heading back to my flat. Here are some photos from that walk.

I freshened up in my apartment and then decided to venture back out since I hadn’t really had a chance to experience London at night. I made my way to Picadilly Circus and snapped some photos before taking a stroll through Chinatown, where I planned to eat dinner. It was my first visit to any Chinatown, despite living halfway between Philly and New York (a few days later I would also visit Chinatown in Amsterdam, and a few months after that I would visit San Francisco’s Chinatown, so I made up for lost time). One thing I discovered about Chinatown is that, with so many similar restaurants to choose from, it’s hard to pick one place, so I found myself walking around in circles.

I eventually settled on a Vietnamese restaurant, where I had a funny (and somewhat humiliating) experience. The waiter brought out a dish of greens and I thought he said the word “salad,” so I poured what I thought was dressing on it and started eating. After a couple of bites I thought to myself, “This tastes like pure cilantro.” That’s because it was. I was supposed to put the cilantro in the soup he later brought out. So I threw the rest of the cilantro and “dressing” into the soup when it arrived, but this was also a mistake because the “dressing” was actually dipping sauce for the spring rolls and meat that the waiter would be bringing out next. Oh, and the spoon I had used to ladle the “dressing” on the “salad” was my soup spoon. I’m sure the owners had a good laugh at my expense. I’ll just chalk it up to being the end of a long and exhausting day. 😉

After dinner I headed back to my flat. Tomorrow would be my final full day in London, so I thought I should at least go have a look at Buckingham Palace. That will be covered in the next installment. In the meantime, here are some night shots of Picadilly Circus and Chinatown.

View more of my photos from London

View more photos from my visits to the English countryside

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
3 comments on “Eurotrip 2014, Part 14: Canterbury, Greenwich, and More London
  1. Mom says:

    It really is good that you can write about your problems with the trip to help others, because who would know these things? The voucher versus tickets was ridiculous, you should have been able to go to the front of the line!! Something as silly as the cilantro shouldn’t have been brought to you until the soup was which should have had the spoon with it and on and on….. lol. Do we Americans not know how to Dine? Or do they not know how to serve a meal? Regardless, your entire summary and pictures are great and definitely will help someone, especially your mother!!

    • Thanks. If my experiences can help others, that would be great. I did have one person tell me that my posts about Mexico gave him the confidence to book the tour company I used (as there weren’t any other reviews available online); I thought that was pretty neat.

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: