The ferry from St. Malo to Portsmouth was not fancy but it got us there after 10 long hours. Going past the Isle of Man was special for me because I had heard of this tiny island in crossword puzzles and always thought what a funny name it was for an island. So now I had seen it with my own eyes.
In Portsmouth, we stayed at the Y and were shocked at the bedding in our assigned room. There were 7 beds in this room and no other guests in it, so we had our choice of beds. The first had obviously been slept in, so I checked out another. This one looked made up more smartly, but when I pulled back the covers I saw that the sheets were less than clean. The third one shocked me. Dark curly hairs were entwined in the weave of the sheets. I expected to see crawlers next. By this time I was quite dismayed. Finally we chose the least dirty, least slept-in beds and slept on top of the bedding using our clothing as blankets. I didn’t sleep much.
In the morning, we sat down to the breakfast that came with the price of the room. Beans, coffee, and toast that was drenched in bacon grease. We were happy to get out of there as our taxi whisked us to the station where we caught the train to London in the nick of time.
At Victoria Station, we checked our luggage in a locker. Free of our burdens, we set off for a day of sightseeing in London.
Our first sight of a bobby called for photo time. The poor man was caught unawares, scratching his ear. When he realized we had snapped his picture, he turned a bit red, but shrugged good-naturedly as we smiled our thanks.
“That’s GOT to be the same guy that was here five years ago when I was here with my sister. I remember his big nose.”
“Well, go ask him, and maybe we can get a photo.”
I approached the man and said, “Were you here selling flowers five years ago? Because I think I remember you from when I was here with my sister.”
“Unless I was sick that day, that would’ve been me. This is my spot. Who else would it be?”
And so it was that he agreed to have his picture taken with me. He was a very nice man.
But the highlight of Trafalgar Square is the huge flock of pigeons that are so used to people that they don’t mind perching on them. One woman (I didn’t get her photo) stood with her arms stretched out and had pigeons sitting on the whole length of her arms as well as on her head and shoulders. My first thought was where will she go to change her clothes which were bound to be full of bird droppings.
When we’d had our fill of culture for the day, we took the train to Gatwick Airport and took the new “Skytrain” (Laker Airlines) to New York for only $120 each. Skytrain made its first London-to-New York flight 16 days earlier. We thought it would be like a freight run judging by the price, but we just wanted to get across the pond. What a surprise we had. The service, food, and comfort level were all top quality – a wonderful flight. It was no wonder though, that sadly, they went bankrupt soon afterwards when the economy took a dive in 1980.
The trip continues from New York next time.