I mentioned that I was very excited about the excursion that I had planned for Thursday. If you want a clue before you read all about it, here's a video that should give you a BIG hint...
Here was the plan: I did not have a reserved ticket for entry into the castle, because they were already sold out when I decided to go to England. I checked on all the other expensive tours with other tour companies, and they were sold out too. According to Highclere Castle, they do have some walk up tickets available for the 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00 tours. So, being the Black Friday trained American that I am, I planned to get to Newbury by 8:05. Take a cab to the castle and be there by 8:30 to get in line for tickets. I was prepared to spend all day there if I had to.
I got to the station way early, so I had to take a picture of the Paddington Bear statue!
It seems there was a fatality up the tracks. Someone had committed suicide. I went around trying to figure out how long it takes to clean up a body off of the tracks. I couldn't get a great answer, but I finally talked to a guy who was nice and told me that he didn't think I needed to try to go to a different station, but that I should just wait. While I was talking to the helpful guy for the 2nd time, he got a text alert that there would be an 8:30 train from Paddington to Reading. He told me to get on it, and change trains in Reading. I immediately began watching for it to hit the board that tells you which train platform you need to be at.
The second it hit the board, people started running for that platform. I mean literally, they were running. I got on the train, and got a seat. It was so packed. that people were standing. When we finally pulled into Reading, I got off the train and spent about 30 seconds looking around for anything that gives notice of what trains were leaving when. I didn't see anything, so I headed upstairs. I found the boards quickly and saw that there was a train leaving for Newbury at 9:14. The train station clock said 9:12. And just FYI: The train doors close 40 seconds before they take off. HOLY CRAP!!! I took off running. Running down the escalator, yelling at the people "Walk left, stand right!", because that is the rule there, though everyone doesn't observe (probably Americans). I hit the bottom and looked for the correct platform, and again, RAN to the train. I hopped on the closest car, and the doors closed before my butt had hit the seats.
I arrived in Newbury at about 10:00
Well, that or else everyone who would have been in line, was also held up on later trains, since I was on the first one out of London.
And the tour isn't specifically timed for 10:00 sharp, so all was good.
I was so happy to secure that ticket and walk through those gates.
greet me ;-)
We got to see the Library
Next up: Brussels!