Getting up at 6:30 really isn’t my thing. I have the sleeping pattern of an jetlagged owl. And as it was really hot and not exactly comfortable on an air matrass, I switched half way through the night for the tiny tiny couch.
We had a croissant with cream cheese for breakfast and then headed off for Schiphol. We decided to check us and our bag in immediately. To get to the tax free area we thought we had to go to security so we got rid of our water. But once through passport control there was no security, So we wandered around the victoria secret (the only one in the Netherlands) for a bit and then just went on to see where our gate actually was.
After a 20 minute or so walk we finally arrived at our gate, a bleak nothingness, but we didn’t want to walk back, and the shops were too expensive anyway. So we went through security (yay we found it!) and they made me unpack my suitcase for my old netbook, but everything turned out to be fine.
We had to wait for nearly another hour at our gate before we could board our plane. And by that time I was feeling pretty shakey due to the lack of sleep and dehydration.
The flight however was great, although it made my ears hurt and I got motion sickness (ofcourse). It was wonderful to see the world from up high, and I could really see the shape of the English coast. We also got a snack and something to drink even though our flight only took like a fat 30 minutes. All in all it was quite the experience.
Our plane landed at Gatwick airport so we had to take the train to London, which was quite the challenge. None of our bank cards were accepted by the ticket device and we couldn’t find our destination on the lists. Luckily someone helped us with getting the destination right and we were able to get some money from a seperate (probably really expensive) ATM.
We took the regular train to Blackfriar – London because that was about 9 pounds cheaper compared to the Gatwick express. But we still had to get from Blackfriar to Gloucester road. We had been comparing prices online before our trip and we wanted to get the 7-day travel pass for zone 1 and 2. but the self service machine could only help us if we supplied a photo, which we hadn’t, and there was no photo booth to be found. And the ATM there also didn’t take our bank cards. There was a ticket service desk but the guy behind it wasn’t exactly clear on how much an oyster travel card was going to cost (the oyster didn’t need a photo). And us, being Dutch, just wanted the cheapest option. We all got quite grumpy. We were tired, hungry and nothing worked the way it should. Thankfully we were eventually able to understand the guy at the ticket service and we were able to draw some money with one of our bank cards at the atm. So we got the oyster travel card in the end.
When we finally arrived at the hotel at, what, 2 pm I guess? We checked in quickly, even though the guy behind the desk tried to convince us to reserve seats for the restaurant adjacent to the hotel. It was supposed to be top notch food and always really really busy, but we declined. Later we noticed there weren’t a lot of people at the restaurant at all.
We were really tired at this point and just hung around in our small but decent hotel room, lying on the bed and flipping through folders we found along the way and of course checking why the ATM’s didn’t accept our cards.
Around 3 pm we decided to go to Camden Town, or the Camden market. But first we paid a visit (haha, get it? paid?) the ATM across the street, and whaddayouknow . When it asked a bunch of questions about additional costs and more questions I didn’t understand we just left it and figured we’d find an ATM at the Camden Market.
By that time we were all a little annoyed I guess.
We walked all the way past Camden market until we finally found an ATM at a sainsbury’s supermarket. This one didn’t ask questions and hurray!Many Pounds were produced. We later checked how much we actually paid for them, and it turned out to be NADA. We paid exactly the value of the pounds in euro’s.
Lesson? Find out where all the ATM’s are ahead of time and just get your money at a supermarket!
Camden Market was wonderful, a lot of fake stuff, clothing, food and trinkets for tourists. But all in all there were some nice stalls and the Camden stables were beautiful in particular, decorated with a lot of large bronze horse statues and horse related stuff and very quaint and cute. At a Chinese (who didn’t accept my 5 pound bill from 1990) stall we all got noodles with chicken, in one of those small aluminum trays. I had the plain, Jessica had the sweet and sour and Daniël had a barbecue/soy sauce with it. It was delicious and the first proper meal of the day.
Afterwards we just walked around Camden market pointing at the hugely decorated and painted facades, and being harassed by sellers. But it was great and I would love to return there later this week maybe.
Because it was still relatively early when we left (6 pm-ish) we went on and also stopped at king’s cross, to see platform 9 and 3/4, but there was a long line of people waiting for it (yeah, on a tTuesday night. Crazy!) so we just snapped a picture and went back to our hotel, stopping at Tesco’s to get some coke and squash (which turns out to be pretty yummy).
Even though it’s only 10pm, my companions are already asleep. And I am going to do the same in a sec. it’s been such a long day, and tomorrow we want to get up early and visit a lot more. I guess we’ll talk that over breakfast.