Have you ever been lost? Not the kind of lost where you really don’t have a clue where you are, but being lost in familiar territory. Confused yet? Well I was too.
I had just arrived in London. I’d traveled most of the day from hot and sunny Madrid to wet and soggy London. The Thameslink train dropped me near Kingscross Station and I hoped on the TUBE to my hotel. When I emerged from the TUBE station at Tower Bridge I knew, according to the directions given by the hotel operator, I was just a short walk from my bed for the night!
The Tower Bridge station is right across the road from the Tower of London, just on the west side of the Thames. When I couldn’t see the hotel from my location, I decide to do the smart thing and call the hotel for more detailed directions. Little did I know I would get “central reservations” located in who knows what little podunk town in the depths of England. The reservations agent sounded like she knew what she was talking about, so I believed her when she said ” it’s east, just walk from your present location and follow the road away from the Thames. “Don’t go across the river” she exclaimed.
Well, I took her at her word and proceeded to walk (with my 30 pound backpack). Twenty minutes later there was no hotel in sight. Instead, I’d crossed over into some industrial zone in London where the prevailing industry was shipping and loading boxes from trains to freighters. So I did the logical thing, I retraced my steps to Tower Bridge. Knowing my hotel was NOT across the river, according to the previous directions, I took another route away from the bridge! On this I ended up almost all the way back to Kings Cross Station. The spot I had left over two hours ago!
By now I was frustrated, hot and worn-out! I decide to hail a taxi. Being in London there are tons of taxis. But out in the boondocks of the city they all had fares. So I had to make my way to a Tube station to find a taxi stand. Finally! I was in one of the big black sedans. The driver asked where I was going. I gave him the address and off he went. Soon we crossed the Thames by way of the Tower Bridge and just two blocks later I was dropped at my hotel!
My lesson here is a TAXI is sometimes worth the expense. If you’ve got less time than money, then a taxi can be a lifesaver. It cost me about $7 to get that taxi to my hotel. But the worst thing is that I wasted an hour wandering around looking for the blasted place!
Later in the evening I began to wander down the east bank of the Thames into an old seafaring part of London. My wandering took me past clipper ships, chic bars, and a wonderful view of the city. This was a different kind of wandering that I had done in the afternoon looking for my hotel. Tonight, I wanted to get lost in order to discover new ground. This is what I call exploring Europe!