Now we have to decide – do we go to the UK on the Eurostar or do we fly?

At Gard du Nord there was a reservations office for the Eurostar. As it was upstairs, many stairs, Trevor stayed on the ground floor with the luggage while I went upstairs to enquire about making a booking. The cost was €200 each so that was not an option. The official suggested that we go by train to Calais, ferry to Dover and then a coach to London. We decided that, with the luggage, it would be better to fly so we took a train to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Once again, Trevor looked after the luggage while I went to find a suitable flight to Gatwick, London which was the nearest airport to where we would be staying for the next 3 days.

Another misunderstanding and unnecessary expense booking tickets for the flight on Easy Jet. I requested 2 tickets to London and, not thinking to say Gatwick, the French speaking woman at the desk understood me to say Luton. Without checking them, I gaily took the tickets and we went to booked in. It was here that we discovered the error. The cost of changing the ticket was huge so we just flew to Luton not knowing that Luton is North of London and Gatwick to the South. Oh dear, I really had not done my homework very well. On arrival in Luton we discovered that we had to take a coach to Gatwick at a cost of £20 each. With all these extra costs we might as well have taken the Eurostar. What I have since learnt is that for any main travel bookings it is best to make reservations from your home country. For some reason it is cheaper to do so.

We eventually arrived at Gatwick Airport from where we called our B&B hostess and she was there in 10 minutes. It was so special going to a B&B where we were truly welcomed and made to feel at home even though we were guests. The house had been divided to create rooms for guests and private rooms for the owners. For the first time we were given advice about the local area and further afield.

We spent 3 wonderful days in and around London, once again acting like real tourists. Our first activity was to board the hop on-hop off bus which gave us an opportunity to see lots of places and buildings we had only heard about until this moment. We believe that these buses are good value for money. Our ticket included a cruise up the Thames and, as I have said in a previous blog, this is one of the things we really enjoy doing. Good fortune was really with us that day in that Tower Bridge was raised just as we reached the end of our cruise. Currently this only occurs a few times a year. We also took the opportunity to go on the London Eye which gave the most stunning aerial views over London and beyond.

Besides doing touristy things we took the opportunity to get some laundry done but learnt that these service industries are no different from most of the tourist venues – open at 10:00 and close at 17:00. This means that one is very limited on what can be done in a day. We handed in our laundry at 10:00 on day 2 of our stay and collected it the next day but this meant walking back to the B&B with it before going to to the station to get the train into London. The laundrette was across the road from the station and the B&B about a km way. Another rung on the learning ladder climbed. We have learnt over and over that the more one learns about places and situations before going the more one will be able to do while there.

Our time in London over, we were taken back to Gatwick where we picked up our hire car, this time smaller than expected! Why? No one could say but it was a lovely little Fiat Pinto and it behaved very well. Once all the papers were signed and the keys handed over, we left for Bath via Stonehenge.