Day 3 (previously published in days 1-2): The train arrived at Euston Station at 6:30 AM, about 37 minutes earlier than the Caledonian Sleeper’s “tips and tricks” webpage indicated. This is also when the attendant brought everyone in my carriage their coffee and breakfast snack.
Passengers must disembark by 7:30 AM, and that’s about when I did. I exited the station from the very long platform – Caledonian Sleeper says these are the longest passenger trains in the UK – and walked two blocks to my hotel for the next three nights in London.
Bags dropped off, I walked over to Warren Street Underground station to take a train or two to Westminster station. (I used my photographs of the fascinating design of that station to joke on Twitter that I had actually been in the never-opened Block 37 “superstation” in Chicago.)
I walked around Westminster Abbey, St. James’s Park, and Green Park, to observe the preparations for the coronation of Prince Charles III on Saturday (in two days). There were a lot of police officers, private security personnel, and tons of barricades all over the place. People were even camping along the Mall to save a spot from which to watch the procession of the Gold State Coach from the church to Buckingham Palace.
I saw a lot of people commuting to work by bicycle; compared to Chicago and New York City, more people in London seem to wear cycling kit in the morning.
Having enough of that, I walked around East London where a lot of the higher end shopping streets are – near Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
The time was nearing 10 AM so I headed over to the London Transport Museum to join the queue prior to my reserved entry time. (I’m not going to explain the contents of the museum, but it reviews the history of growth and development in London and the surrounding areas that were rural and became suburbs and then were absorbed into the city, as well as shows and explains the workings of many past and present transportation agencies in the Greater London Area.)
I had lunch with a friend from Batavia whom I hadn’t seen in ages at a Vietnamese restaurant in a viaduct underneath the Charing Cross station tracks.
After lunch I went back to the hotel and took a shower and nap.
For the evening, I walked over to a friend’s friends’ flat in Covent Garden and we had drinks on their courtyard balcony and ate takeout pizza from Pizza Pilgrims, a local chain.
I rode the tube home (it was about twice as fast as walking).
Day 4 (Friday)
Two Chicago friends and I had breakfast at Dishoom – I had the “Wrestler’s naan roll”, which had a sausage, egg, and bacon wrapped in naan.
We then hopped on the Elizabeth Line at Tottenham Court Road and rode it a few stops until my friend who is staying behind and I needed to change trains to go somewhere else while our friend continued heading to Heathrow.
That somewhere else was Canary Wharf station, which I believe was under construction when I was last in London in 2014. Now it’s a huge structure that looks kinda of like a tube with angularly sliced ends. On top is a restaurant, Big Easy, and an open air botanic garden.
Soon, I headed to meet someone at University College London and do a kind of walking tour around the Camden borough to see the new streetscape changes.
To get to UCL I changed trains at Baker Street, one of the world’s oldest subway stations – it opened in 1863. Chicago’s first ‘L’ station opened in 1892.
After the walking tour I headed over to the “City Centre”, an exhibit from New London Architecture where there are three 3D models of the city alongside posters about proposed and under construction “mega developments” in London. (This was also a good place to use the loo.)
My friend and I reunited outside St. Paul’s Cathedral and headed to a pub on Bow Lane to have a pint alongside the after work crowd.
While walking through the narrow streets from the pub to a subway station I took a fantastic photograph of the cathedral from several blocks away.
For dinner I joined a big group of friends for Punjabi food at Tayyabs in Whitechapel. We rode the Elizabeth line from Tottenham Court Road to get there. The line is important to describe because it opened in May 2022 and by November 2022 more people rode it than rode all eight lines of the CTA (counting ridership on a daily basis). The line is so useful to so many people because it offers faster crosstown trips; it has induced additional trips rather than cannibalize ridership on other subway lines.
We returned to the flat where we had pizza the night before to freshen up and head over to a bar that turned out to have blaring and poorly tuned speakers before going to the Hippodrome Casino to listen and sometimes sing along to musicals played live on piano.