London "Pearly"couple on Underground
We all know I hate flying (if you didn't, you do now). Bouncing like a jockey with waves of panic and claustrophobia painfully assailing me over 6,000 miles, I'm saying to myself it can't be worth all this, for a journey of pleasure.
Of course it was! Like childbirth you forget it, and the trip was so stimulating and exciting in a thousand different ways I already can't wait till the next time. And here is my journal of it all, taken from my letters home to Peter and Paul.
Saturday June 15
Yes, the flight was an ordeal, 500 movies of which I could not watch a single one, only stared at the Virgin Atlantic flight tracker for 10 hours. No Internet. Food was obscene, inedible. But on landing I quickly dealt with money changing etc and got to Russell Sq on the tube very expeditiously. Never saw London lovelier, it's the cool June weather, green trees in full leaf, flowers everywhere against old stone and railings. Bought a little London map book but still got lost lost looking for Soho Square; however, walking around University College, Mecklenburgh Square, etc., on a lovely light Saturday night was compensation, even though so exhausted and dragging a suitcase. A lot of raucous, large young people filled the streets, but it was still much lovelier and quieter than New York with more wonderful old buildings. Of the two, I'd rather live here. Accents are awful: how they've changed since our first visit in 1969! That nasal, "Thank yewww," everywhere.
First "Full English Breakfast." Bloomsbury Palace Hotel.
And I did get accosted by some kind of scammers. Right on decorous Great Russell St., a large Bulgarian man persistently kept asking me "where Victoria Station?" He didn't seem to speak English and when he wouldn't stop asking me, I rather impatiently told him it was nowhere near and he should ask the doorman in a nearby hotel. Oddly, he didn't want to talk to the doorman. Then suddenly two dark men who looked like undercover cops swept out of nowhere and said to me, "Madam, is this man trying to change money with you? There's a heroin trade around here and it is very serious. May we see your passport?" "I never saw him before in my life, I'm an American tourist, let me alone!" I said, and scurried away FAST with my rolling-bag. Later friends said it was some kind of horrid scam to get my passport! Yeek.
Second full English breakfast. The George Hotel, Bloomsbury.
Finally found Jane's flat and screamed up at her window, though she couldn't hear me for awhile due to a band of dancing singing Hari Krishas that jingled into the square at that moment. Lovely to see Jane and her daughter Miranda in their airy flat with views over the leafy square, and they welcomed me kindly but I was fading with exhaustion and wasn't a very coherent visitor! Could have stayed with them, maybe should have, but I can't share a bedroom, so I took myself off to the very pleasant Bloomsbury Palace Hotel in Gower Street near the British Museum. Very hard to find on short notice because of Wimbledon, and was quite expensive, £100 for a single, but was glad to have it. After dropping my bag, I went to my favorite neighborhood tandoori restaurant, Motijheel in Marchmont St., where I've been eating since the 1980s, and the tandoori was still as juicy and charcoaly and lemony and delicious as ever. Very satisfying, there's nothing as good in L.A. Then collapsed at hotel, slept loglike. Tomorrow walk in park with Virginia Woolf!
A later full English breakfast, at the Arundel Hotel, Cambridge.