Okay, here we are on day 3 and although it SEEMS like everything has been sunshine and rainbows, there have been a few itsy bitsy things that I haven’t had the time (read ‘energy’) to tell you when writing my late night blog.
So here I find myself sitting aboard a bus enroute to Canterbury for the day. What better time to get a jump on today’s blog. And I’m gonna start with those little irritants. And despite the title, my rant isn’t necessarily about the bus. Although I will say, the driver’s constant ‘reminder’ to put your seat belt on is becoming a tad annoying. This seat belt is more like something an astronaut would wear during re-entry. I can hardly move while wearing it. Should there be a catastrophic event, I’m certain that I will NOT be bouncing about the interior of the bus like a ping pong ball. I guess that’s a good thing?!
First and foremost, the one thing on this holiday, thus far, that’s causing me the most grief is the totally inadequate wifi connection at the hotel. This is LONDON friggin’ ENGLAND. And it’s the 21st friggin’ century! And it’s ONLY a 4 story building. You can’t tell me that there isn’t a powerful enough wifi setup that can accommodate 4 floors in a skinny building in the centre of London, England. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE in this day and age that I should have to get up out of bed at 10:30 at night to go down 2 floors and sit on the well worn carpet of the narrow and musty stairway to send an email, download photos, or most importantly, publish my blog. Fortunately we’re only 2 more nights in London and then off to the far reaches of Northern England where I have to be optimistic that the wifi signal improves.
After last year’s travel fiasco, I decided that it was time for ME to get into the 21st century and get a cell phone. It would have alleviated so many things on my last UK trip had I possessed one. So, this year I have one and with the ‘Roam Like Home’ option, I can actually USE it for the convenience it intends...for a fee...of $12/day. So...it makes an excellent CAMERA...takes great photos!
So last night we were off to Gingerliners and their Chamber of Flavours (COF). The way it works is this...when you make your booking you provide a cell phone # and an hour or so before your schedule arrival time you receive a text msg with directions to the secret location. Wanting to save that $12 roaming charge, I told the third party booking company that my cell phone wasn’t international, so could I get an email. Two years ago, when booking directly with the Gingerline people, I received my directions by noon. Luckily, I kept those directions for this year...in case. We were getting ready to leave the hotel. No email msg had been rec’d, but I knew the secret location was the same as on our previous visit. Off we go. We leave the Hoxton Overground station and BAM! Major construction. And right in the area where we needed to go. Everything is closed off. There is a strict rule with COF. You arrive late, you don’t get in. The clock is ticking. We’re walking around trying to find a back way in. Tick tock, tick tock. We ask directions to the address that we were provided 2 years ago, because we never did get any new instructions. Then I bite the bullet. Is there a phone number we can call? Yes there is. So I turn on my phone. I mean really, a $12 roaming charge is small potatoes compared to missing out on a COF experience. I call the number...it doesn’t go through. I try every version possible of this lengthy phone number. Doesn’t go through. Tick tock, tick tock...
Last resort, we approach 3 guys on a bar patio. Puppy dog eyes ensue. They aren’t inclined to help, but then they relent. Don’t know if it was to get rid of us cause these 3 old cougars were deterring all the young British lovelies from interacting with them. Was it our accents, or lack thereof? Or, did it just take a few seconds for the full impact of a triple application of puppy dog eyes to take affect? Don’t know, don’t care. They quickly stepped up and tried calling the number. They couldn’t get through either...so it wasn’t just my stupid Canadian service provider. They’ve never heard of Gingerliners. So that’s it...we’ve done it all, we’re pooched...puppy dog eyes and all.
We’re walking back towards the Hoxton Overground Station and I glance over to where the construction site is...the one that’s smack dab in the spot we are supposed to head. The one that blocks the alleyway we traversed 2 years ago to get to the big black door with the huge X on it that opens up into the wonderful other world of COF. And I see it...a small grey door. And it’s open! In we go. Down the alleyway and voila, there it is, the black door and the huge X. Alas, we are 5 minutes late for our appointed entry. In we go. Perhaps the puppy dog eyes will work again. We’re all 3 ready to give another triple dose to the young man who is working reception. He seems to know what’s coming and doesn’t want to be a victim of such a powerful weapon. He immediately says “Relax, you’re alright. You’re not late. You don’t enter the chamber till 6. Sit down, have a drink, take it easy!” And from that point on, the rest of the evening was...magical.
Oh, and by the way, guess what was in my mailbox when I was finally able to get on the wifi back at the hotel...a mere 7 hours after it was sent...none other than the directions and notice of the small grey door. The hotel wifi REALLY sucks!
We had a wonderful day in Canterbury today and the weather more than cooperated. We pretty much hit all the highlights taking in a historic river boat tour, the Canterbury Tales, and the Canterbury Cathedral. Oh, and there might have been time for a little glass of cider and some shopping along the way!
Imagine our surprise when we met our boatman this morning and he was sporting a Toronto Maple Leafs cap. And it’s not cause he’s just a fan. Nope, he’s a born and raised Torontonian who has an amazing grasp of the history of Canterbury and a passion for customer service.
And we opted to wait for 5pm to enter the grounds of the Cathedral because prior to that they wanted £12.50 to enter the grounds and an additional £5 to have a tour inside the Cathedral. Highway robbery. So we waited till after 5pm with about 40 other people and then we paraded onto the grounds for free. We didn’t get to go inside, but probably a good thing because the collateral damage to the Cathedral caused by me getting struck by lightning would have been monumental.
It was a great day all around...well, with the exception of the drive home on the bus. The driver was particularly aggressive on the gas and brake and changed lanes like a trooper. Shelley and I were a little green about the gills throughout. The great thing about motion sickness...okay, poor choice of words...the interesting thing about motion sickness is that it subsides very quickly when you plant your feet on terra ferma. Thankfully there are no more bus trips till Ireland.
Geek of the Day - In honour of the royals...and the fact that I’ll never have a crown of my own...I thought I’d make my own!!