Last hours in London

Our last full day in London was a full day indeed, with a trip to Oxford Street and a look around some of the famous shops there.  Before visiting Selfridges and Marks and Spencer, we managed to get a micro SIM cut down to a nano to provide another international travel SIM.

We’d bought international travel SIMs online from Flightcentre and the idea is that, for an upfront fee, the card will allow data roaming by picking up on the best local 3G signal.  So, in London, our devices would jump from O2 to Vodaphone or EE or whatever, and, once we emerged from the channel tunnel on the French side, our SIM cards found the best French connection and, so far, haven’t missed a beat, with iPhone 5 and iPad mini keeping us up to date and assisting navigation, especially with great apps like City Bikes, which shows us locations of Boris Bikes in London and then the Velib in Paris, as well as dozens of cities around the world!

Our excursion to Oxford Street then led to a bus ride from Oxford Street down along Park Lane and westward again to Knightsbridge and Harrods. Using the Oyster Card, with a 7 day travel pass has made using the Tube, the DLR and buses a seamless experience. It is just a matter of tapping on and off in the tube and tapping on on buses.Not sure how the rollout of the Opal card is going in NSW but the time must possibly come internationally where there can be a universally recognised method of accessing public transport and services by unique identifier technology by smart card or physiological identifier linked to a payment source.

After some time wandering through the floors of amazing clothing and accessories at Harrods we had a light lunch in one of the many eateries inside the store itself and then headed off across the road near the Natural History Museum before picking up some more Boris bikes and rolling on into Hyde Park again.

We pedal to the Western end of the park and past Kensington Palace where many of the members of the royal family have apartments. A few minutes later and we are able to wander on down to Bayswater tube station before returning home to Old Street with a couple of changes.

asif1We’ve managed to catch up with a friend that we’ve got to know due to his friendship with Jenna and Adrian; our daughter and son in law.  Asif has caught a train down from Loughborough in the midlands to catch up and we spend a few nice hours with some good food and some drinks.

We meet near Kings Cross/St Pancras and its interesting that the trip of around 160km from Loughborough can be completed in just over an hour on the fast train. We’re being reminded all the time of the inadequacy of the rail infrastructure that we have in NSW where the shorter trip from Newcastle to Sydney actually takes longer these days then it used to with the steam powered Newcastle Flyer. We are clearly at a significant disadvantage from the urban sprawl of our cities and the lack of population density to drive demand and frequency of service.

Still, a lovely evening to end our stay in London, and we grab the tube home to Old Street for a good night’s sleep before our Friday departure via the Eurostar to Paris.

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