Saturday, August 15, 2015

Out And About On Our Own!

If you know me or have been reading my blog for a while, you may think of me as a fearless traveler ready to tackle anything.  I hate to burst your bubble, but I had officially been in London for a week before I had the courage to try to get around on my own.  Until then, I had depended entirely on Josh to get me around.  Our flat wasn't close to a Tube station, but it was a walkable distance to a couple.  Unfortunately, every time we traveled to and from our flat in those first days it seemed that we took a different route or mode of transport, so I couldn't get my head around how to get from place to place on my own for several days.

When I finally mustered the courage to set out without the hubs, the kids and I took the ubiquitous red double decker buses.  I love the Tube, but being able to see where I'm going while riding the bus helps me to get my bearings a little better.  Plus, I just love sitting on the top deck.
Kinley and Knox wait for the bus to arrive at the stop nearest our flat.

You can see from the picture that this is bus stop K which is what Josh always called it.  What I didn't know was that 1) the signs on the bus that list the stops DON'T use the letters as names for the stops, 2) the corresponding stop for getting off here on the way home WAS NOT just across the street as one would expect it to be, and 3) this is just one of MANY K bus stops throughout the city.  But, of course, I didn't learn any of these things the easy way.  I learned them on the way home when I had no idea where to get off the bus.

Here we are wearing blissfully optimistic smiles before our Josh-less journey.

While on the bus, Knox read and Kinley listened to music, trusting me to know where we were going.  Silly kids.

I knew which bus took us to Kensington High Street, but I wasn't sure which one would take us to Hyde Park.  Of course, the stops aren't helpfully named or anything like that.  So I just got off on the High Street with the kids and hoped for the best.  We had to walk several extra blocks, and we took a wrong turn or two, but against all odds, we managed to find our way to Hyde Park and the Princess Diana Memorial Playground.

Glad to be out if the flat, Kinley was willing to play on the seesaw with her little brother.
The centerpiece of the playground was a giant pirate ship.  Knox was in heaven!

When it was time to go, we found the bus stop where we should have gotten off in the first place, but, again, the stop for the bus going in the opposite direction wasn't just across the street.  That would have been far too easy.  So we walked out of our way (again) and found the return bus.  

We got on the bus, and Kinley and I touched our travel cards to the little sensor thingy beside the driver.  Kids Knox's age travel free with a parent, so he always has to hold my hand as we get on.  He headed straight for the stairs, and the bus lurched forward.  

Bus drivers on double decker buses have cameras so that they can see passengers on the stairs, and I'm convinced that they must get a lot of joy out of stepping on the gas just as we're starting to climb.  Knox, Kinley, and I clutched the handrail and hung on for dear life while the bus sped down the street.  Just when we all got to the top and began scanning for three empty seats, the bus lurched again, and we had to work hard not to land on either a perfectly lovely British chap, a lady reading the paper and trying to pretend that we didn't exist, or a portly grandmother with a very welcoming-looking lap.

We finally fell into our seats and took a moment to pat ourselves on the back for being on our way.  But then came the drama of figuring out where to get off.  Was it Holland Park?  York House?  Where was the big red K on the sign?!!!??  And why couldn't I, a seasoned traveler who's been to six continents, figure this out?!  

Thank goodness Kinley had been paying attention all week.  She spied the general area of the stop and promptly pushed the little yellow button signaling to the driver that we wanted off.  We hurried down the stairs and out the door to begin our walk the rest of the way home.

And I came to a new realization.  Traveling with my daughter is different these days.  She's now old enough to be my traveling partner.  She can notices things that I don't, and she certainly no longer needs me to hold her hand as she gets on the bus.  She's growing into quite a traveler, and, even though she still occasionally enjoys a seesaw or pirate ship playground, one day she'll no doubt be setting out on her own adventures.

I just hope she continues to pay attention to the bus stops when she does.

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