Saturday, May 24, 2008
Is everyone in England gracious and kind?
That can't be, but it is certainly the feeling I had travelling from south of London to Edinburgh yesterday.
Amersham is the very last stop on the Metropolitan Line, and the fare to King's Cross was pricey: almost eight pounds. But simple and direct and the ticket lady was pleasant and I merely stepped out the door onto the platform and - whooosh! - the train arrived.
To get from the Underground to the National Express can be daunting, as it is a maze of passageways, stairs, elevators and scurrying commuters. But how congenial all the employees were, warm and friendly and sending me unerringly in the quickest, right direction.
The rail station was itself hysterical with action and swarming bodies at 10 on a Friday morning, but the very first person I approached about getting my rail ticket stamped, said brightly, "Oh, I can do that for you, sir. Just follow me."
When I thanked him and asked where I might get a spot of breakfast, he pointed in the direction of both the Royal York pub and the National Express First Class Lounge.
At the pub, I was so sleepy and jet-lagged still, that I ordered a cappuccino and promptly poured two heaping containers of black pepper in the bowl, thinking I was adding brown sugar. I was so tired I didn't really notice the difference for the first few minutes.
At the National Express lounge, I was seated smartly at a computer station, compete with WiFi, and immediately served chamomile tea and a cookie. Even better, there was a completely separate and clean men's room!
The train was among the best I've ever been on. Smooth and comfortable and again, smiling and helpful and personable servers offering a broad range of expensive and not-so expensive and completely free goodies (tea, coffee, juice, water and cookies on the house.)
The trip from London to Edinburgh runs just under five hours. At about Hour Three Plus, I dozed off, suddenly opened my eyes to behold the Sea! Two cyclists in yellow jerseys and yellow helmets were winding their way along the foreshore on a beautiful path and I wanted immediately to be there with them.
I had barely stepped off the strain at Waverly Station and suddenly I was in a taxi with a marvelous driver, who (I'm sure he's said these kinds of things several hundred thousand times) gave me the short guided tour of everything one needs to know about Edinburgh. I say short because the flat I've rented is but minutes away from the station. And the Castle and Princes Street and the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh had me from the moment I arrived.