Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weekend Story Part 2 (The dollar is not a heavy as a pound)

e landed in London, late morning (London time). We began to walk through mazes and were truly lost puppies looking for home. Mike turned to a guy next to him that looked like he rode Harleys for a living.

"You're new to this, aren't you, " he smiled.

"Yes, could we follow you?" Mike the ever trusting husband said.

"Sure," he nodded us through a gate and began to explain the whole customs process.

Mike, being his usual chatty self asked if our new friend would care to join us for coffee to thank him for his help. He would be delighted to.

So sitting down, I learned our friend, Captain Bucko, was a truly interesting individual. According to him, the good captain, he had been abroad several times and had visited many countries we were going to see.

"So where are you staying?" he inquired.

"This place called The Athenaeum," Mike answered as he pulled out the itineary the travel agent gave us.

The captain rubbed his chin, "Don't know anything about that place."

"According to our travel agent it's somewhere between a Hilton and say the Ritz--nice but not too nice, we're not the Trumps, "I was getting into the conversation.

"And it's really not too pricy, "Mike chimmed in. "It's only 380 pounds a night so that's what $185 or so?"

Captain Bucko started to laugh, "My friend, you are confusing your math. As you will quickly learn, two dollars is worth one pound, not two dollars per pound. "
Mike and I were speechless. He continued.

"The room is actually more like $760 a night. A bit OTT as they say here."

Mike and I both looked at each and mouthed 'Oh my goodness'.

I turned to Captain Bucko, "Maybe it's a mistake on this sheet. Maybe it's really dollars. A little too high but."

"We are staying there for four nights--that's like three grand," Mike blurted out.

"Well," Captain Bucko scratched his beard. "I do have some friends, the Millers. They are into antiques and have a little bed and breakfast. Let me write down their info for you. The guy who runs it is a great fella. I wouldn't be surprised if you called him and he came and picked you up himself in his land rover and took you about town."

"That would be great, "Mike was smiling. I was unsure.

"Well honey, "I began. "Why don't we see if it's a mixup at the hotel and take it from there?"

"But this seems..."

"I want to try the hotel, "I forced a smile. I was going to play the bride card and he knew it. Mike nodded and we got up from our chairs.

"Well the travel agent said we need to catch a train to the other airport because it's closer to our location and take a cab from there."

Captain Bucko nodded and got up. "I understand. Now when you get to the other airport, you exit to the left and find a que, that's a line, for cabs called blackies. Blackies are great cabs but they again are OTT."

"Oh great," Mike smiled.

"It was great meeting you again," I shook the captain's hand.

"Yes and thank for your help," Mike said pulling out his wallet.

Captian Bucko, pulled out his wallet and motioned Mike to put his away and paid for our coffee and pasteries. "You're own your honeymoon, allow me," he smiled. "And remember if you call the Millers, tell them Captain Bucko sent you they'll give you a good rate. And you can't get in without a referral."

Captain Bucko went back to the plane to catch his connection to France and we proceeded to take off for our train. Before boarding we exchanged our dollars for a small sum of pounds. Mike went to buy the tickets for the train, coach again.

"I don't know about that bed and breakfast, "I said as we were waiting.

"He seemed nice and come on three grand is going to kill us. We'll be broke."

"I'd rather be broke than on the British news as a serial killer victim, "I mumbled. "The whole thing seems like a scam. I mean who is really that nice?"

Mike sighed, "I guess you have a point. It did seem a bit odd that he knew about bed and breakfast. Well here's out train."

We got on the train and saw it was bumper to bumper people. I mean pressed to the glass so many people. There was no way we could even fit. I looked to my left and saw the other car was almost empty.

I grabbed Mike's sleeve.

"Come on, looks like no one saw this side," I was very eager to sit on one of the cushy benches I saw.

We got in and sat down across from an older man, a professor at Duke we later learned, and gave each other subtle high fives. We could not understand how the people in the other car were so well stupid to be all crammed like they were.

As the train began to roll, I was mesmorized by the beautiful countryside. It was truly lovely, The green was amazing and the little home adorable. I was getting really excited to soak in this new land.

"Tickets," the polite (and by the way, all British are polite--very polite) conductor asked our table.

The professor pulled out his ticket and then Mike pulled out his.

"Sir, "polite conductor addressed Mike. "These are for coach. You are unfortunetly in first class."

I glanced back at the crammed car behind us, and then I gave Mike my please don't-make-me-go-there look.

"Um, "Mike began. "I am so sorry. Is there anyway I can pay you the additional fee now."

Surely it's only a few bucks.

"Of course sir. That will five pounds, each."

Mike sighed and took out the wallet. Our pounds were dropping faster than a weight watcher meeting.

I smiled and continued to enjoy the countryside.

We arrived at the station and true to Captain Bucko's words, found the Blackies. We looked for the que but found nothing. We began to walk right up to the cabs when I noticed a rather large line way behind us. Our first lesson in England. You don't stand right up at the cabs for que. You poiltely wait well back. Now no one said anything as we walked straight to the front (very polite remember) but felt uneasy stares so Mike and quickly ran to the back of the que.

We got in the Blackie and drove for about a block to our hotel. Five pounds.

The Athenaeum was pretty, I will admit that. A door man went straight to our cab and grabbed our bags. He scanned our luggage tag and greeted us by Mr and Mrs last name and then led us to the lobby where he introduced us to the front desk by name and began our registration. I was impressed but not $780 a night impressed.

Will we stay at the hotel or trust Captian Bucko? Will we go see the queen? All these questions and more will be answered next week!

****Quick Update: I was reviewing old stuff and I am about 100 pounds off on the hotel room--it was 280 pounds. I thought $780 seemed too high :0****

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