Saturday, June 3, 2000
Salisbury to London
The day before we tried to plan how we were to get to London for our trip back home. We still had two days to spend in England, and we did not want to cycle around the busy confines of the City of London. We decided to make our way to Heathrow Airport and leave our bikes at left luggage. Initially we were going to try the express bus from Salisbury directly to the airport, but we were informed that they do not take bikes. So it was off to the train station. Here we booked our passage, and made reservations for our bikes. The ticket agent informed us that he did not think they took bikes on the trains from downtown London to Heathrow Airport, so he suggested we get off at the nearest stop and cycle in.
Tom cleaning his bike before catching the train
From his detailed map the agent had had of the Heathrow area, I copied freehand. It did not look too complicated. We were off to an early start for the big city after stowing our bikes in the small bike area on board the train. There really was not enough room to stow both bikes in the one stall, so Tom sat his in the passageway and kept close tabs on it so it did not impede anyone. We switched trains part way to London for the short journey to Hounslow. In Hounslow, we started our ride towards Heathrow by following signs, our rough sketch, and a van that had "Heathrow Express" written on the side. Somewhere along the way we got ... well lost again. We stopped at a bike shop for directions, and we were promptly on our way once again. Traffic into Heathrow on this Saturday was less than I expected. Most cars respected our space, except for one that Tom accidentally cut off while entering a large confusing round-a-bout. Part way along we came to a cycle path and things were good. We rode, and rode, and rode. We seemed to be going in one big long circle around the entire airport! Eventually our bike path ended at an underground tunnel. What were we to do now - I didn't relish cycling through with a throng of cars behind. Upon closer inspection of the tunnel, there was a silhouette of a bike painted on the pavement, and an accompanying sign that said cyclists have priority in the tunnel. I was quickly off. With the noise deafening, I rode at the breakneck speed of 40 kph through the tunnel - fully loaded, and on a "hybrid" bike! Arriving at the other side of the tunnel, I waited for Tom's arrival. He appeared after about five minutes. Tom had not seen me enter the tunnel, and took a bit longer to get his nerve up and take the plunge. You might want to download this map of the area around Heathrow (large file - about 8 MB).
After leaving our bikes at the left luggage area of Terminal 3 in Heathrow Airport, we caught an underground train for downtown London. Because Saturday was an extra day in London, we had not prebooked a hotel, and the Hotel we were staying in on Sunday (Regent Palace) was fully booked. We opted for the more expensive
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