August 29, 2015

85 degrees and hot tea - not a winning combination!

It's finally Saturday, our last day in London. Not surprisingly, Friday evening at the racetrack was one of the worst nights. Sean and I tried to get some sleep but it was difficult. We just had to power through a few more hours and we would be on our way to France. Hopefully our villa would be nice and quiet and we could sleep through an entire night; come on, we're not asking for too much here!

For our last few hours in London, we thought it nice to enjoy "high tea" somewhere nice so we could sip tea properly with our pinkies stuck out and snack on itty bitty sandwiches and scones. Of course I had made the reservation when it was raining and 62 degrees and naturally at the time of our 1:00 PM sitting it was 85 degrees out. Not exactly the perfect weather for sipping hot tea.

We arrived at promptly 1:00 PM at the Milestone Hotel, a very swanky boutique hotel across the street from Kensington Palace all sweaty and hot. Before our tea had even arrived, we both had downed a gallon of water, 2 beers and 2 glasses of champagne. We were very hot. And sticky. And wondering what we were thinking . . . but who can ever believe the weather forecast in London? So far we had been fooled by the weather forecast 3 out of 4 days, so I really didn't want to believe the forecast this time when it said the weather would be THIS HOT.

Thankfully the delightful little tea room was air conditioned and after much hydration, sipping hot tea was actually quite lovely. And delicious. Both Sean and I "oohed and awed" over our beautiful tiered serving dish of sandwiches and pastries and still to come, hot scones from the oven.

Served with the hot scones was traditional clotted cream (yum!) and homemade jam. The scones were amazing and I was a bit remorseful that by the time the scones had arrived I was almost too full to enjoy them. Part of this could be attributed to the fact that I had ingested very quickly a few gallons of liquid before I started eating. This would be one of those times that I wish I had a magic stomach expander button because I truly hated to waste the remaining hot scones. And that delicious clotted cream. And that dreamy jam. It was really a shame.

They offered to box up the remaining pastries and scones, but the thought of trying to carry those along with my suitcase and backpack in 85 degree weather through the Tube was more than I wanted to challenge myself with. So we left them behind. Sadly. I'm still dreaming about them . . .

By the time we had finished our afternoon tea, it was time to head back to the apartment and collect our luggage we had left with the concierge. Our flight was leaving Stansted airport at 6:10 PM and we still had to travel via the train to get there.

Luggage collected, we started the long journey to the airport. First there was the Tube from South Kensington to Liverpool Station, about a 40 minute journey that started off first with about a 6-block walk - normally, a picnic. In 85 degree weather with a heavy backpack and pulling/pushing a suitcase, so much. Then there were the flights of stairs to content with at the Tube station. Mon dieu! I know we could have taken a taxi, but sometimes I'm too thrifty for that. Laugh all you want, but I try and save money where I can. We're not feeble - we can manage and power through we did. According to my FitBit, we walked over 7 miles in 85 degree weather on Saturday; some of that with luggage!

Thankfully when our train to Liverpool arrived, it was one of the new, air-conditioned models. And we both found seats, so it wasn't a bad journey and gave us both a chance to cool off and relax a bit. I had purchased tickets on the Stansted Express before leaving home to save us a little money. The train from Liverpool Station to Stansted Airport was about 45 minutes and only made just a few stops. This train too was air conditioned and the gentle swaying of the train as it traveled nearly put us both to sleep.

Stansted is a fairly small airport and it was certainly busy when we arrived. It took us about 45 minutes to get through security, giving us only about 20 minutes before we had to board for our flight. That was just enough time to pound a couple of pints before we were on our way to France.

I'm not a big fan of flying on EasyJet, but there were not a lot of options for direct flights from London to Nice. I did splurge and spend the extra $15 per ticket to actually reserve a seat and was able to reserve the exit row seats so we had a little more leg room for the 2-hour flight.

Customs was fairly quick upon arrival and we had our bag and rental car within 40 minutes of arrival - not too bad! Driving around unfamiliar windy little roads after dark isn't exactly my cup of tea, but after only getting lost once or twice, we found our apartment in Cagnes-sur-Mer in pretty good time; maybe only losing about 10 minutes with my inability to follow the directions coming from Google Maps. I really missed last year's British lady telling me things like "in 400 feet, at the roundabout, take the 3rd exit". Instead, I had to try and pay attention to Google Maps telling where to go and totally mispronouncing most of the street names, so I had to rely heavily on Sean being able to navigate us; he's now my new British lady!

Our landlord lives down the street, so he met us at the apartment and showed us around. He told me the next day that he was also expecting other guests from the UK that evening as well and although they come every year, it took them over 2 hours to find the house . . . so I must pat myself on the back for finding our way.

We found our apartment on VRBO. Originally I had wanted to stay in his other, larger villa that offered more outdoor space and an outdoor kitchen, but it was already booked. Instead, Bruno offered us the 2-room apartment at Villa Pagnol nearby. We paid 820 Euros per week. The apartment was recently renovated and everything is essentially brand new. It's perfect for the two of us.

We were ecstatic to discover that we had both a king sized bead, no racetrack outside and air conditioning! I think we were asleep 15 minutes after we arrived.

À bientôt

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