Thursday, March 7, 2013

Scotland/London ~ Day 5 ~ Am I on Benny Hill?

Stonehenge. It's been on my "Places I MUST go before I die" for as long as I could remember. I've always been fascinated by the place, I want to stand in the middle of this glorious structure and feel it's power.

So of course on my first day in England, the first thing I want to do is go to Stonehenge. As every worldly traveler does, I sought out the internet to give me the directions I needed to get there. Unfortunately, the swanky $400 dollar a night hotel we were staying at did not include free Wi-Fi. So I did what the second best thing, I went downstairs and talked to the concierge.  It's their job to know how to get from point A to point B, right?

I told the gentleman exactly what I wanted to do, so he directed me to Paddington Station and told me I could catch a train to Salisbury, then a bus would take me to Stonehenge. I just needed to walk a couple of city blocks to the Baker St. Underground and it's a straight shot to Paddington. Easy breezy, right?

Now, thinking I'm only going to be on the Underground twice so I DID NOT follow the advice of my friends who have been to Houston and I did not buy an Oyster card. I think I was still intimated by the whole thing after getting royally confused the night before trying to get from the airport to the hotel. I was also under the assumption that one ticket would work all day (I'm telling you that dude had us all royally confused).

So I bought my ticket and proceeded to Paddington Station. I get to Paddington Underground Station and follow the signs for the train station. Before exiting I ask a Customer Service Rep, if I'm going in the right direction, again explaining that I'm going to Stonehenge. He says yes, so I exited the Underground and entered the train station.

I immediately found a customer service counter and inquired about getting to Salisbury, where she said, "Love, you need to go to the Waterloo (across town) Station and get the direct train. It leaves at 12:50."

I glance at the clock, it's 12:20.

"You can make it," she says.

So I buy another underground ticket and head to Waterloo Station, all the while knowing there's no way in God's green Earth that I'm going to make it in time to buy and ticket and catch the train to Salisbury. I shrug it off, knowing there's always another train. I get to the station, and enter the very long line to get a ticket. Finally, making it to an agent, I tell her what I'm trying to do.

She gives me a sympatric smile. "You've just missed the train, love."

"Isn't there another one?" I ask.

"Yes, but once you get to Salisbury, you won't be able to get a bus* to Stonehenge. You'd be better to start earlier on another day." *Spoiler alert for tomorrow's post, there are no buses to Stonehenge unless you've scheduled one in advance.

Start earlier, huh? I just nodded and thanked her for her help. At this point all I wanted to do was cry, the whole day had been incredible frustrating and when I get frustrated or mad I cry... and it's totally annoying. So I head to the bathroom to straighten myself up and guess what? It's gonna cost me 30p (about 50 cents) to pull myself together privately.

I pay the price, then go find some food. As I eat my lunch I realize that I'm not very far from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Vowing to not dwell on the fact I had just spent about 15 dollars to go absolutely no where, I decided to go ahead and do some sight-seeing. Big Ben was fantastic and Westminster Abbey was just amazing, thus turning my Benny Hill like day into a masterpiece of awe.