A bus and a train and a plane and a plane and a train and a Tube and a train and a taxi. Without a hitch. I suppose we expect problems these days – late planes, delays on the Tube, where’s our bus? – but from the time we stepped out our door headed for the #5 bus to take us downtown so that we could pick up light rail to the airport, it was really a breeze.
All 24 hours of it. But still, by the time we got to our bed-and-breakfast in Tunbridge Wells (Broadwater B&B, 24 Clarendon Way – just a five-minute walk from the Pantiles), we marveled at the ease.
I prefer to fly nonstop – get on the plane, get off the plane – but the prices were too high, so we fly Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., and then nonstop to Heathrow. Changing planes in Vancouver was a million times better than the time we flew Air Canada through Toronto. Never, ever do that.
I bought our Heathrow Express tickets before we left home and printed out the tickets, saving us a few quid. Compared with driving (we hired a car once during morning rush hour in London), the 15-minute train trip is nothing. We toyed with the idea of taking a taxi from Paddington to Charing Cross, where we would get our train to Tunbridge Wells, but we never travel with a lot of luggage and so opted for the Tube – besides, we had our Oyster cards from last summer to use.
Barely a wait for the next train at Charing Cross – really just enough time to get sandwiches to take with us. And an hour before we got off again. This time we did get a taxi, just because David at our B&B said we might not want to haul our bags up the hill.
Ah, Tunbridge Wells. We spent much of our two days there hanging out in the historic district, the Pantiles. I’d seen that word often enough in magazines and had no idea what it meant. Our Blue Badge guide cleared it up: it refers to the pavers they used two centuries ago, which were tiles that had been made in pans.
The Pantiles (previously known as the Walks and the Parade): In the summer, there are free outdoor jazz concerts on Thursday evenings. The Duke of York is a great pub.