Monday, October 31, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016 – Southampton, UK – Cloudy/Drizzly – 60s

Queen Elizabeth docked very early in Southampton this morning.  She came in quietly – did not hear any bow thrusters or any other kind of maneuvering.  It is a gray and drizzly day in this busy port.

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Southampton from Queen Elizabeth

We had a nice breakfast (together for the first time this cruise) in the Lido Café.  Breakfast was not the crowded, noisy affair it can be on disembarkation day.  All the standard items were available – no abbreviated menu like on some other ships.

We tried to stay in our room until about 9 AM but our steward prompted us to get out (that was also a first for us). 

Walk-off was easy since we had cleared immigration earlier (our passports were vetted by British Immigration).  There were no lines and no luggage to find in the zoo of bags.  It was nice.

We located the taxi queue and found a couple to share a cab with to Southampton Central Train Station.  It was a very short ride and cost 6 pounds – our cab mates wouldn’t let us pay our half.  We thanked them and headed into the station.

We were ticketed on the Great Western Railway Southampton Central to Bath Spa – 7.50 GBP pp per trip – total 30 GBP total round trip purchased on line.  I showed the ticket agent the email confirmation and she asked me for the credit card used and ran two charges for 7.50 GBP.  I asked her about these charges since I had paid for the tickets in full and she said these charges were not extra (included) and were only used to redeem the tickets.


We were scheduled for the 12:27 PM train so we had quite a wait.  The waiting area near the ticket counter was tiny with uncomfortable seats (with no power plugs).  I asked the man watching the entry point to the trains and he said a real waiting room was through the gates and down the platform a bit.  He said we could go through and later he would let us use our tickets to “go through” the gate (I didn’t understand that since we were already “through”).  Even more importantly, the washrooms, he said, were right next to the waiting room.  We headed down there and found comfortable seats with plugs – the bathroom however was under maintenance so I had to cross over the tracks (via bridge) to reach the facilities on the other side (not that big a deal).


Waiting for the Train



Southampton Central Station

When the train boarding time got close, we went out on the platform to wait (wouldn’t want to miss the train).  We double-checked with a railway employee manning the tracks as to the location and timing of the train.


Almost Here

The train to Bath Spa was a clunky looking old green train with only three cars.  We did not have assigned seats so we could sit anywhere.  Our bags also got good seats since the car was essentially empty. 


It was a surprisingly comfortable ride – 1 hour 40 minutes (scheduled arrival 2:12 PM).  The windows were clean enough to get some nice pictures of the English countryside.

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Scenic Ride to Bath, UK

The train arrived on time at Bath Spa Station.

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Bath Spa Train Station

I had gotten walking directions from the hotel a few week earlier so we decided that we would walk to the Holiday Inn Express (almost exactly one mile along a busy street, Lower Dorsett Road).  I pretty much knew how to get there but I had the directions confirmed by a gas station along the way.  What I didn’t count on was the uneven and rough sidewalks leading to the hotel.  This made “wheelie-dragging” very difficult – also, the wheels on my suitcase were damaged by dragging them through the deluge in Dubrovnik.  We did make it to the hotel – a very robust workout - but decided then and there that we would not walk back to the train station with our suitcases. 

The Holiday Inn Express, Bath is a nice new (or recently renovated) building.  We were greeted by a very friendly desk clerk, who gave us some good information on Bath, including a better way to get to the City Centre.  This “short cut” would avoid the traffic heavy main street and give us a more scenic route.

Our room was at the end of the hall on the third floor (number 340) and it had a nice view of a green area behind the hotel.  The room looked comfortable – the bed was a bit soft but the bathroom was nice and roomy (unusual in a British hotel). 


View From Room 340

After resting in the room for a while, we headed out to the City Centre to scout for a place for dinner.  After checking out a few places (all a bit pricey), we settled, grudgingly, on a TGIF located on the ground floor of an office building.  Ellen had a salad with grilled salmon and I had a British version of veggie fajitas (don’t ask).  I also ordered a peach iced tea, which I also regretted right away because drinks are notoriously expensive overseas (and I hadn’t looked at the price).  Well, it turned out that the iced tea was reasonably priced.  It wasn’t a terrific dinner but it did the trick.  We will look for something better next time.


The Iced Tea was not 5 GBP

We walked back to the hotel and, from a bridge on the way, I got some very nice pictures of the River Avon (not THE River Avon – “Avon” means river in Celtic and there are several Avon rivers throughout England).



River Avon, Bath

Back in the room, we did some reading, watched some awful British TV, and finally called it a day.

Hoping the room will be quiet tonight – we are dealing with a multi-night sleep deficit.

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