It’s Thursday, and we were supposed to be headed to Edinburgh, but instead are going to wait in our hotel room all day at the Old Street Holiday Inn Express, hoping for fresh clothes to show. We are approaching 72 hours in the same threads.
And the bags seem farther away than ever. They were never tagged properly, so they can’t just be traced. It’s unclear if they even left Iceland.
After a few work calls, we get another assurance from the iceland lost and found that they will be delivered tonight, so we head out to the thames Riverfront.
Is there a more important, shorter river on the planet? Probably not. On our way to Barbican tube stop, we chat about the famous river. The Thames, which 20,000 years ago was connected to the Rhine, is a mere 215 miles long. But it is the waterway that flowed alongside the only real peaceful transition from monarchy to democracy, the explosion of global sea trade and modern industrialization.
The London Thames today is a mess of people, especially on a beautiful, warm August day. There are probably 10,000 people on the waterfront near the Eye ferris wheel that has become a signature activity and landmark for London. We jump on a ride that spins us high above the nearby buildings.
Those 10,000 people would not have been able to hang out by the river in the 1860s. The waterways became so polluted that Parliament couldn’t even hold session nearby. And Cholera outbreaks killed thousands of people those years.
I choose to skip the two hour line for the Eye, but pay dearly for it. Tickets are about $60 each! The girls are thrilled however – 2 hours in a line when you are 10 and 13 is an eternity.
Onboard the air conditioned ride, we slowly ascend and see London spread out in front of us in all directions. The sun is about an hour away from the horizon and shines Against the west end, illuminating East and North london with a warm orange glow.
Afterward, we head back on the tube, and the girls are giddy with excitement at being on the road, and some pent up energy from having been in the hotel room for most of two days. We spot a mexican restaurant near the Old Street station and eat decent burritos.
We all hold our breath as we enter the hotel, hoping our clean clothes would be there. But no, they have not been delivered. I mentally prepare them to skip Scotland entirely. Being good travellers, they both say it would be okay if we couldn’t get out of London for the weekend like we planned.
Riiiiiing Riiiiiiing goes the room phone as I doze off. It must be our bags! We all run downstairs to greet them like lost family. Lily hugs her purple bag and kisses it. Emma takes off one Dr. Who T-shirt and puts on another. She mentions something about loving England, because Dr. Who is the national religion.
Edinburgh airfare is cheap and plentiful. It doesn’t take but a minute to book a quick round trip on EasyJet. But hotels are more difficult. The Fringe Festival-goers have taken most of the rooms, and the places I do find can’t take three. I’m worried that AirBnB won’t work because proprietors are often not online and I need an immediate response.
Our luck turns, and we get a 2 BR flat in downtown edinburgh for $200 a night. We drop our luggage at the office, and carry everything on our backs. Liverpool Station has easy express trains to Stansted. We finally feel like we are really traveling.
The Edinburgh airport taxi line is about 200 people long, without a cab in sight, so we take the express bus and get the upper front seats which are always fun but even the bus gets bogged down in traffic near the city center. The city is clearly struggling with the surge of visitors for the Fringe Festival.
We head out quickly after dropping our bags to an event that I randomly pick – an absurdist recreation of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein – but I can’t find the venue. It wouldn’t have mattered, you can’t buy tickets at the venue anyway. They have to be purchased online. The festival beats my last minute planning.
We ate another mexican meal, and the three of us laughed through the entire thing. The waiters are charmed and I had my first realization that it must be somewhat unusual to see a single dad travelling with two daughters.
It stays light much later at this latitude. We had a great walk home in the twilight. It gets our energy up and makes it hard to sleep. Emma reads voraciously. She has brought 7 books and is on her third. Lily amuses herself around the apartment, opening every closet and door to see what lies within. I look ahead at the Fringe festival activities for the next three days we are here. We’re gonna make the best of this now.