Every Turn A Surprise, With New Horizons To Pursue

This is part 9 of the series, with my 7th time in London. (Err Camden, and Westminster) The title of this post will make sense later in this post. We are on September 7th as this portion of the story begins.

I arrived by bus to the Victoria coach station, where I found a pay phone and called my bank collect to get my credit card to work again because like in Sweden, it was cut off again. After that was taken care of, I went to the nearest Underground station “Victoria” that involved going through Victoria Train Station at rush hour. This station has 4 overground and 3 underground lines and it looked like every line arrived at once and like bees in a hive, all moving very efficiently but looked nuts to figure out.

I took the Victoria Line then transferred to the Piccadilly Line to Russell Square. I checked into the Generator, had dinner there, and went down the street to The London Pub at the Royal National Hotel. I met up with a few Contiki groups, drivers, and team managers, and had a couple of British beers. There is something about British beers that mess you up.


The next morning, I saw a sign for a free walking tour. So, I plan on doing that for the morning. It was a really good tour and walked from hostel to hostel, and then we get on the tube to Green Park where all the tour wranglers bring the people. The tour guide was really funny and new his stuff. He took us in 5 minutes to get a better changing of the guard view, then people waiting 3-4 hours had.

We then went to the buildings around Parliament and Westminster Abbey and lots of things on the way. The way the free tours work is they pay per person for the advertising costs to the company and then they get paid by tips. I tipped my guy well. After the tour, I only hung around the area for a half hour or so, then took the tube to Canada Water. I originally went here in 2010 since it had Canada in the name to explore the area, but it has a decent but still shabby mall, Surrey Quay. Now, this mall has gone downhill in the last 6 years but still has a full Tesco and a Burger King with free Wi-Fi.

I had broken my Garmin VivoFit 2 band and I was hoping to find a new one but had no luck here. One of the shops suggested you can get anything at the Camden Market, so that was where I headed next. I never found what I was looking for but I have no regrets of going to Camden Market as it was amazing window shopping, although I didn’t buy anything.


I was starting to run short on time so I headed back to the hostel, showered, and changed. One of the big things to do in London was to see a musical. I had got my ticket at a ticket seller in the subway station that had a ridiculous service fee, but I later found out the ticket works out about the same anyway if I had bought it from the theatre. Let’s face it if you are penny-pinching theatre ticket prices, you are not going to a West End London show.


If you recognized the post title, you know that the show I’m going to see is Disney’s Aladdin the Musical. The London theatre crowd is unique and hilarious to watch. From the elite posh couples to the tourists, to the families on a special outing, to the folks that this was the backup since they couldn’t get into Harry Potter. On thing about this show was that no one puts on a show like Disney. The music, story, dancing, singing, special effects (like the magic carpet), and Pyro were spot on and fantastic.

After the show, I did what all Londoners do. I went to the pub, London Pub. Had “some” drinks and chats with the Contiki crowds. Then went back to my hostel and there was a TopDeck party going on. Who was I to miss out on a party, so I partied on.

I had to check out of this hostel and had hours to kill so I dropped off my bag at the Contiki Basement and went to Green Park to tour Buckingham Palace. It was really bad, the hangover was so intense that I couldn’t move far without puking so I slept in Green Park again for a few hours. I then went to St. Pancreas Station used the washroom and got lunch and checked email on wi-fi.


It was time to check into the Royal National Hotel so I went to the Contiki Basement, picked up my London knickknack along the way, got my suitcase and bag and, rested until the evening meeting with the tour manager Kyle and driver Alex. After the meeting can you guess what happened? I went to the Pub…

The next morning it was an early morning and I was excited and ready to go. No hangover for some reason this morning.

Now we are off to Amsterdam.

Twenty-Four Thousand Four Hundred And Fifty-Five

This is not a random number, it is a big one, but not random. I woke up on the morning of September 2nd, 2016 full of energy and excited as hell. I was about to embark on the most epic trip to date. I thought to myself this is one trip that I will never forget. I remember it was a sunny day. I got up early and walked to McAllister Place and caught the bus uptown to start the day off by doing the same thing I have done for almost 3 years of Saturdays, I went to Billy’s Seafood for breakfast. I remember that I had my favourite menu item the Smoked Salmon Omelette and lots of coffee. Billy’s I always tell people is like dinner theatre the staff especially Billy the owner are a hoot.

For most people, they would have already done the packing rather than go out for breakfast, but that is not my style. After breakfast, I went home and had 90 minutes to get ready for 28 days of travelling. So at this point, you would think I would pack right? Nope! I shaved and took a shower (for 60 minutes.) After 20 minutes of running around to not forget anything, I have my bag packed! Then to weigh it 33kg. Repack 28kg. Repack 27kg. Repack 25kg. Repack 24kg. Repack 26kg!!!! Repack 23kg (cue fireworks!)

I then called a Simonds Taxi and to the airport, I was off! I arrived an hour early for my flight checked in and relaxed there was no turning back. As the plane arrived, I took lots of close photos and emailed them to myself. You never know when and air accident investigator will need them. This was part of the feeling of impending doom that was in the back of my mind from my mother begging me not to go.

I got on the plane and it was a rather unremarkable journey to Montreal. Once at Montreal’s Trudeau International, I went to find my gate, and then to find Starbucks for coffee.

I then got on my flight to London’s Heathrow airport. On the flight, I ordered the beef meal. That was a mistake, the bean salad is to die for, as in your will die. I spent the whole night with the worst gas since the last time I had the bean salad in 2013 on the same flight. It was the overnight flight but I got very little sleep.

We land in London and the first experience with “British Unholy Queueing” happened at the customs halls. This is where people use the seatbelt ropes, and keep changing them so you have no clue how long it is going to take and as you get close… nope, the line has changed again.

After I cleared the UK Border control, I went to the main lobby and picked up my Lebara SIM card so I didn’t pay the ridiculous rates Canadian cell phone companies charge. One of the perks of an unlocked phone.

Since I didn’t want to pay for luggage on my plane to Copenhagen, I decided to drop off my main suitcase at the Contiki basement. So I bought an Oyster Card and hopped on the tube.

“Please stand clear of the doors. Let customers off the train first please.”

“This is a Piccadilly Line service to Cockfosters” (giggle)

“The next stop is Russel Square. Alight Here for the British Museum, please mind the gap between the station and the platform.”

I got to the Contiki Basement and dropped my bag off and then wandered Camden, headed to St. Pancreas train station for lunch and then walked to Russel Square, Then to Green Park where I was a bit tired and had some time to kill so I slept for two hours and then walked by Buckingham Palace to Victoria Station and got on my “National Express” bus to London Luton airport. (That is nowhere near London) It is literally like calling the Fredericton Airport the (Saint John-Fredericton Airport) and assuming it was anywhere close to Saint John.

After a two-hour bus journey, I make it to Luton and the bus stops at the front door. The airport is smaller than a lot of big city airports and was very under construction everywhere. However, in typical British fashion, there was no problem everything was fine. I was really early and hungry and the airport check-in for my flight wasn’t open yet. I asked the RyanAir agent where the food places were and they ended up being on the other side of security. I looked really disappointed. However, the agent early checked me in and I was off to get food.

It seemed like forever that we waited in line and the line was long and was mixed with another flight going to a place I never heard of. I kind of thought I wanted to go there instead for a while. I turned out to be some place in Romania.

As I got on the plane, I once again took photos of the plane and emailed them to myself. This plane was like nothing I have ever flown in. The seats were very basic, no seat pockets, advertising on the bins, no leg room at all, and very friendly flight attendants. (Flight Attendants are always nice.) As we flew we had very bad turbulence and I was scared to death that this was where my mother was right and this was going to be the end, but we landed safely.

I got off the plane and got my passport stamped for country 24, Denmark. This was big as it was a while since I added Turks and Caicos on my quest for 40 countries by 40.

The Copenhagen airport was massive and it was late at night (10:30 pm) I walked to the subway station and then got on the train to my hostel, The Generator. On the train, there was a very drunk man that got on with his big bottle of hard liquor and was rambling in what I assume was Danish. It was heavy raining that night, and I was wet and tired, so after check-in, I went straight to bed.

The step-count on my fitness tracker … 24,455.

A Difficult Goodbye

Describe the last difficult “goodbye” you said.

My last difficult goodbye was in London last fall. It was so difficult when you are in such a close group of people on a bus tour, knowing that you will likely never see any of them again to say goodbye.

This one in particular was hard for the main reason I was extremely tired. That day we started the day with an early departure from Amsterdam to try to catch the 1PM ferry in Calais.

When I should have been getting some well needed rest after an incredibly active day of walking many kilometres rather that trying to translate Dutch to take the street cars, the worlds most annoying creation decided that it was time for no one to sleep at 3:30am. That annoying creation was a damned rooster. Although I could probably sleep over the sound of a rooster in this instance, it was several dozen of those buggers.

Last Live Performance

What was the last live performance you saw?

London Street
London Streetscape

The last live performance I saw was Legally Blonde: The Musical at the Savoy in London. This was the first time I went to a show in London. I bought my tickets at a little kiosk on Charing Cross Rd.. It was a nice sunny afternoon, I was going to see an afternoon movie but for some reason I decided not to. I think the main reason was I has so much left to see in London and I seen a sign that morning for the Transport for London (TFL) museum and since I love subways I decided that was too important to miss.

I was so thrilled with my purchase and they even gave me a map of where to find the theatre. So after a quick-lunch and email check at the Burger King, I was off to find this museum from memory and some moderately accurate street directions. When I then saw something “shiny” (metaphorically). It was a little stair well to a Ray-Ban designer shop. I when in and tried on every pair. Things appear more magical when travelling.

Then I found the museum and it was 100x better that I imagined the museum to be. It was a second london gem that interested me by surprise like the H.M.S. Belfast that prior to the day before I had not known existed.

Stage setupAfter I when back to the hotel to drop off my new souvenirs and to dress more formal for the theatre. When I got off the tube at Charring Cross I seen the map at the station to get general bar rings as it was about a 5 minute walk. I kept walking and started to question if I had gone too far then I saw the bright pink glow around the bend from the large sign.

I quickly get in created and find my perfect centre seat about 8 rows from the stage about 20 minutes before showtime. After 5 minutes an usher comes and explains that the Ticket seller double sold the same seats and that in typical London hospitality I was given a new seat one row back. Then the show started and was such an amazing musical in such a fashion that held it’s own only differing slightly from the movie storyline and incredibly well acted. It was also really pink.

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Day 2: London to Amsterdan

So today has been freaking crazy. I woke up this morning pumped and excited to start the journey. I had a shower. The only reason I mention it was the fact that the hot water was broken and would not turn off, leaving me with a steam room.

Then I caught the bus to the ferry in Dover. The three most notable thing about Dover was the castle on the hill, that I missed a good 35sec window to get a picture of. Second was the famous White Cliffs.

I always thought of the white cliffs as a tourist trap like the reversing falls but it was actually unbelievably amazing like seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time.

The third amazing thing was this is where I learn that people actually pay for packets of ketchup. Later on I came to a McDonalds in Belgium or the Netherlands (it was near the boarder) that had a guy taking payment for the public washroom. Now I am in Amsterdam. This city is awesome just walked down the street drinking a Heineken. Beer is actually cheeper here than water.

Also avoid the Greek Mac at McDonalds it is really crap.