So last week I got on the wrong train to work and ended up in Paddington Station in London – a good 60 miles from my destination. I’ve been in this station a hundred times but I’m always in a rush scurrying from Heathrow Airport to some other destination.
While I tried to figure out how to correct my travel error, I looked for some food and to spend a penny. For those of you unfamiliar with UK colloquialisms, to spend a penny is to use the bathroom. The term finds its history in Victorian times when it cost a penny or two to use the public toilets.
Anyway, I toddled along (awkwardly speed walked along) until I finally found the public loos. And I spent 30 p! Is it really public if you have to pay? <insert the Rock’s eyebrow>
After I’d relieved myself I realised how cool British rail stations are. Filled with people, filled with history.
Firstly, there are helpful signs for those of you looking for a taxi rank.
If you’re flying back home and taking Heathrow Express, the high speed train to the one of four London area airports (which is damn expensive but extremely time saving), you can follow the yellow brick road there too. Okay it’s not yellow.
Then there’s the architecture, the fixtures of the station. It’s beautiful, in a confused mixed period type of way. Built in 1838 and having seen renovations in the 1910’s and 1960’s. There are elements of yesteryear that leave you imagining the Victorians travelling to their Summer homes from London. See Sherlock Holmes and Watson walking, rushing through to solve a case – I know they’re fictitious characters.
Most popular, and having received his name after arriving in the station from Peru is the famous, marmalade sandwich loving Paddington Bear. Much to my surprise on my quest to spend 30 pennies I discovered old monuments to the cuddly teddy. Near platform 1. In many years of passing through I never thought to look for him knowing he should be there waiting for tourists to take a pic, have a seat.
It’s not an obvious recommendation for a stop on your travels but if you’re rambling about London take some time out and explore London Paddington station. Say hi to Paddington. And don’t forget your 30 p!
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