UK & Ireland, Day 13: London, Day 1

Monday, 6/6/16

Our alarm went off at 5:00 AM, so we could get ready to go to the Dublin Airport for our 8:15 AM flight to London Luton Airport. We dropped off our rental car and walked over to the airport. I'd started the online check-in process the night before, but I got to the screen where it was asking about pre-paid seating assignments, and I guess I'd ended the process prematurely because I wasn't interested in paying for seats.  After waiting in line to check in and check our bags, we were redirected to the Customer Service line because we hadn't pre-checked in. While waiting, an airline attendant informed us that we would now have to pay 45 Euros each to check in. That's over $100 US - just to check in for a flight!

When we finally got to the front of the line, I explained to this attendant that we were not aware of this policy and had not received any notification. She said "well, we emailed you and sent a message to the number on file." I explained that we're traveling internationally, so we haven't had access to email and text messages. Her response was "I can't give you a boarding pass for free. It's a pretty self-explanatory check-in process." I was frustrated to the point of tears at this point - I couldn't believe the excessive cost just to get our boarding passes. We've never had to pay to check in for a flight before! We had priced dozens of flights for this trip, and there's a good chance that there was a better time/location alternative if we had taken this additional $100+ fee into consideration.

Arriving at LTN, we went outside to wait for the bus that would take us to downtown London and munched on some Pizza E Pronta while we waited for the bus to arrive. LTN was about an hour from downtown, so at 10 GBP each, this bus was a pretty decent deal.
It was a real planes, trains, and automobiles kind of day, cuz' we still had a ride on the Underground to go before we reached our destination.
We weren't quite done yet; we still had to lug our luggage a few blocks over to the Days Hotel Waterloo.
We had contacted the hotel ahead of time to make sure they were okay with us checking in a couple hours early, so that wasn't a problem. Our room was pretty basic, but it was within walking distance from a lot of the things we intended to see and not too far from the Tube station, so the location really worked out.  I think we got there around noon or so, so we dropped our stuff off and booked our tickets online for the London Eye.
London is such an iconic city, it was so amazing to finally get up close with so many of the key sites.
One rotation on the London Eye takes around 30 minutes, so we took in the view of the city and enjoyed the air conditioning.
Afterwards, we crossed the River Thames and headed toward Big Ben.
Technically, Big Ben is the name of the massive bell inside the clock tower. The tower is officially known as Elizabeth Tower, renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012. The Diamond Jubilee was a multinational celebration that marked the 60th anniversary of the accession of the Queen.
Big Ben
We were so hungry after all the running around this morning, and finally it was time for lunch! We went to the Silver Cross and had the Veggie Fish & Chips, which featured hand-battered halloumi cheese marinated in coriander & lemon juice, chips, and mushy peas and tartare sauce. It was delicious! For dessert, we had a slice of the Millionaire's Cheesecake, a shortbread biscuit topped with vanilla cheesecake and chunky cookie dough pieces with caramel and chocolate sauce topping.
Silver Cross
We walked to Trafalgar Square, a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London. Its name commemorates the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain.
Trafalgar Square
Next up was Picadilly Circus, a road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster. Circus actually refers to 'circle', a round open space at a street junction.  Basically, it's akin to New York's Time Square.
Picadilly Circus
We stopped in at Fortnum & Mason, which was a gorgeous store. I got some Peppermint Tea to take home with me.
Fortnum & Mason
Sign from Cath Kidston
Our feet were aching at this point as we walked over to Buckingham Palace, the London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.
Buckingham Palace
Our feet were aching so bad, so we decided to give ourselves a little break and hop on the Underground to go to Harrod's, an upmarket department store. This place was pretty amazing. We walked around a bit and of course made a point to seek out the Egyptian Escalator.
Back to the Underground.
It was time for dinner, so we went to Norman's Coach and Horses, London's First Vegetarian & Vegan Pub. We had the Tofush Fingers, which were good but not as good as the Silver Cross' entree. They had a delicious homemade tartar sauce here though!
Norman's Coach and Horses
We stopped at Gelupo for some gelato - I think I had cherry - before we took the train back to our hotel.
My FitBit said we had walked 24,618 steps or 10.28 miles. That's easily 3X the amount I take on a normal work day.


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