The taxi arrived and the trip to the Harrogate train station was £4. The train to York was eight minutes late, but we were thankful that it wasn’t too crowded and we were able to get seats and stow our luggage comparatively easily.
We had to cross the tracks to get to our next train in York . We tried to get the lift, but we had in our minds that we had to go up and the lift was only going down, so we thought it was malfunctioning (we now know that there is a tunnel to get to the other set of tracks, so we would have had to take the lift down). We thought we really wanted to catch the Noon train, so we decided to take the stairs up and over the tracks to the correct platform. Big Mistake. I felt a twitch in my back as I hoisted my luggage up the steps. When we reached the platform, I was not doing a good job of holding back tears of pain and frustration. Furthermore, we were shocked to see that the Noon train was beyond full. There was no way we were getting on it. We went back in to the station and I waited in line to ask about getting assigned seats. I learned there had been a canceled train earlier, so that Noon train was odd and subsequent trains would be better; we would have to wait until 5 p.m. if we wanted to get assigned seats. The 12:32 train was not much better, but we got on. I got a seat next to a really nice young man from Doncaster who was getting off the train soon. My husband (henceforth referred to as S) stayed in the vestibule with our luggage. Enough people got off the train after 2 stations that S was able to get the luggage situated and got the seat next to me. The rest of the ride went smoothly. Lesson 1 learned: don’t rush when you’re on vacation. If plans need to change, so be it. Don’t risk hurting yourself to save a few minutes. Lesson 2 learned: if you’re traveling between London and York by train, get assigned seats.
When we got to Kings Cross, I went to the train station ticket office to ask about buying oyster cards (prepaid cards to use any bus or train any time). I was told we could get the paper format there, but if I wanted the credit-card style (which doesn’t crease, get torn, etc.) I had to get it from the underground ticket office. There are lifts at the Kings Cross station, so we didn’t have too much trouble moving our luggage around. There was a short line and we got the cards quickly. Since we had all our luggage, we decided to take a taxi to the hotel. We only took a taxi twice when we were in London: to go from Kings Cross to the hotel, then to go from the hotel to Leicester Square on the way back to Heathrow at the end of the week.
We got settled in to the room at the Grosvenor House, on Park Lane, across from Hyde Park. I did some stretching to get the kink out of my back. That seemed to help a lot. My back didn’t hurt for the rest of the trip.
We walked out towards Duke St . I had read about a place called Dante’s Café that was supposed to be affordable and good. We got to 83 Duke St. and found that it had been re-named Euro’s Café. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch, so we turned around and walked to The Grosvenor Arms. We were not impressed. The first bartender we spoke to was brusque. The place was not selling any food and the beer was warm. As we were leaving, we did talk to two other employees who were very kind. We asked for restaurant recommendations and they gave us a Cheap Eats guide for free (£7 in bookstores). The places they recommended were all somewhat far away, so we decided to walk towards the Bond St. tube stop to look around. We ate at the Hog in the Pound in the downstairs dining room. We split a barbecued ribs platter and an order of garlic bread. Everything was very good. The music was loud, but it is a pub, so I guess that’s to be expected.
We walked to the Marks & Spencer near the Bond Street station, thinking it would have a grocery section like the M&S in Harrogate, but it did not. We told someone where we were staying and learned that there is a small Sainsbury’s near the Marble Arch station. We took the underground from Bond Street to Marble Arch and got some snacks to have in the room.
The seven block walk from Marble Arch back to the Grosvenor House seems long when you’ve been walking around all day.