On the other side of the world

Trip Start Mar 29, 1999
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Trip End Jun 18, 1999


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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Tuesday, March 30, 1999

The Dulles Airport in Washingtn (fortunately) didn't have time to live up to its name as I was in and out in about an hour. This whole plane gig isn't that bad. Six and a half hours to London now seems just like a half hour bus trip to work. The Washington-London trip 'flew by'.

There was a mad rush (well, for me at least) to get my Heathrow-London bus. I just made it after going up and down all sorts of lifts and waiting around at deserted bus stops and trying to decipher cryptic bus timetables, all the while lugging my zipped-up backpack around. My first impressions of London were that it was a bit bleak, dreary and unattractive (an overcast March climate didn't help). Bus as the bus got closer to town the city became more attractive, with it characteristic suburbs next to the motorway with traditional old pubs and hacked up football pitches, narrow streets and riverside promenaders, leafless autumn trees and double-decker buses.

We gradually wound our way closer and closer to Victoria Bus Station through increasingly narrow streets, increasing volumes of pedestrian and vehicular traffic and all manner of ethnic restaurants. At Vic Station I decided to pass on the nearest eating establishment - the Rat & Parrot - famished as I was, and instead settled on a corned-beef sandwich.

The 2pm London-Peterborough bus again had the travel gods laughing at me as I was seated one more next to a screaming baby-helpless mother double act for the entire trip. Still (somehow) managed 20-30 minutes of sleep. Going the other way out of Londn is much prettier. There are many charming streets and houses (all brick of course, not a wood building in sight) and the shops, which are so distinctly British and in stark contrast to the tacky plastic fast-everything chainstores I had seen in America en route. The annoying thing is that London is so big - it took 45 minutes from the airport to the bus station in central London and at least that again to get out of the city. The most notable feature of the countryside is how evil-looking the leafless trees are.

So, Peterborough is the first 'P' stop. An unspectacular town that knows its limitations and has no illusions of grandeur. I got off at the central bus station and caught a local bus to Whittlesey (about 15-20 minutes drive) where the 'Cobwebs' guest house is. Whittlesey is a "typical little English farming village", as the lady from Cobwebs put it - one main street with a few ordinary shops: a pub, a fish & chip shop, as well as a slightly unusual restaurant that claims to serve a combination of "Turkish meals, burgers and southern fried chicken".

The guest house is nice and friendly. My room is a double with a couch, telly, sink and mirror and lots of room and a roadside view. Also staying are a couple of Cornish contractors, one of whom played for the Maltese rugby team. Went to the all-purpose Turkish place for a passable kebab and fell asleep at 8pm.
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