Monday, April 07, 2008

London Jan. 4: Leaving the city

07APR08 London, England

It was 5:30a, when my alarm clock on my phone stabbed that darkness. I jumped up and turned it off immediately. Normally, I would snooze, but chose not to this morning. I had gotten about 4 hours or less sleep this time around. I got ready and left at 6:09a, nine minutes behind schedule. I was a bit delayed as I was checking e-mail and checking in for my flight from Amsterdam to Houston. While online, I noticed that another U.S. airline had ceased operations on Saturday; the less than one year old Skybus.

I walked out into the brisk cold morning air. There were lots of cars out, but not too many people. There were actually a few cars with snow on them. It was unclear if this was snow from yesterday morning’s fall or there was a fresh snowfall this morning. There was no evidence of a snowfall in the area where I was. I continued my brisk pace towards the Kings Cross St. Pancras train station. As I rounded the corner, I looked at the big clock over the St. Pancras station and it read 6:15a.

At the station, I checked the map for my routing, topped up my Oyster card with 10 GBP as I only had 1.30 GBP on it and then confirmed that the Northern Line was running then headed in that direction. The Oyster card is the best method of payment when using the London Underground. Using cash will cost you a little extra for each journey.

The train arrived in just one minute from my arriving on the platform. Inside is a good mixture of the people who make London go around. There were blue collar workers and office workers all alike. From a guy in a crisp pink shirt with cuff links (actually there was another guy in a pink shirt as well), a lady in her business suit to a laborer in a white paint stained jacket and holes in the top of his painted stained steel toe shoes. Almost everyone was reading a copy of Metro, the Transport for London newspaper. I was the only one who looked like he was going to an airport. It was funny when one laborer reached into his bag and took out a croissant from a packet and commenced to eat it. At least I thought it was. The train was silent and only had two standing passengers although all the seats were not taken.

We pulled into the Bank station at about 6:28a, I alighted and followed the signs to the DLR. It is strange, but there were no escalators or any sign of an elevator anywhere; just a series of stairs. As I got to the Docklands Light Rail (DLR), there was a train on the platform bound for Lewisham that was leaving in 1 minute. The King George V train (my train) would be the next train in 3 minutes. It showed up at 6:31a and it was 6:33a, when the DLR pulled out of the Bank station.

The crowd on this train is so different; a mix of flight attendants, airport worker, financial types and airport passengers. This is the train that passes through the London financial district and serves London City Airport (LCY).

We arrived at 6:56a and by 6:58a, I was at the check-in counter.

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