Coffee on the Throne

When researching a holiday destination I always check out atlas obscura for weird and wonderful places that appeal to my warped sense of mind.

The Attendant Cafe popped up when I was researching London and I thought this place is a must visit for me. I was literally busting to go there. Almost a Scott trifecta combining my love of coffee, love of plumbing and potty humour.

The cafe is built in a disused underground toilet. It truly is built like brick shithouse, because that’s exactly what it was.

What else can I say about this place? Firstly it’s In Fitzrovia one of the most poshest part of London. You don’t have to be flush with cash to visit here, but you will have to spend more than a penny.

I was worried the coffee might be a bit shit or piss weak, but it was pretty good.Food wise there wasn’t a massive selection. I was hoping for a piece of chocolate log or a brownie, but settled on a almond croissant.

If you need to go, the Attendant can be found at 27A Foley St, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 6DY.

Off to London (Again!)

It’s precisely 253 days since I called out from the study “Hey Sharon, Thai have an amazing deal on flights to London with a stopover in Bangkok, do you want to do Europe again in September”. Of course the only sane answer to that is “YES!”. So here we sitting on a plane heading for London to visit the Queen yet again.

I have a feeling the Queen is probably sick of us by now, these pesky antipodeans keep showing up and expecting tea and scones. She might even like one of the 5000 Tim Tams we packed for the journey. I’m sure Lizzy is thinking “don’t they realise when we banished their ancestors 232 years ago it was an eternal sentence”. She needn’t worry, the silver is safe, the only thing we are stealing this time is the ashes and a few of team Australia managed to do that that before we even arrived. They need to be somewhere safe when Brexit hits anyway.

If/When Brexit does happen we might find the Queen visits us a little more instead. I’m hearing it’s already easier for us Aussies to get through the immigration line, maybe we are forgiven for past sins, even if only quietly. When the proverbial hits the fan blood could actually be stronger than nice French wine. Isn’t Boris a bit of a Russian name ? You might want to check if Putin had a hand in that one too guys.

253 is also probably the same amount of times I’ve checked our passports over the last 24 hours. These days it’s the only essential thing, everything else is electronic or can be bought or replaced when travelling (well maybe except the ashes. Don’t lose that on the way home boys)

Our team Harrison shuttle bus arrived early at 5:45am this morning to take us to the airport, which was a great sign but then we were tortured for an hour having to listen to Alan Jones rant about something on the radio (first world problem #623). As Sharon suggested, we were liberated of some brain cells listening to that for an hour. I wanted to travel light, but that’s not quite what I had in mind.

At Sydney Airport I had my required two coffees and they managed to liberate plenty of cash for that experience. The coffee wasn’t too bad, but at $6.50 each you would expect them to be ok. Sydney airport food makes Copenhagen look cheap.

The first leg of this trip is on a 747 to Bangkok, I didn’t expect to fly a 747 again as they don’t do lot of passenger service any longer thanks to more efficient, newer jets. This one is 19 years old and it was noisy and rattled and shook about on takeoff like 747s do, but there is something reassuring knowing it has 4 engines. I will miss them when they are truly gone. As you would expect on a 19 year old jet, no inflight WiFi either.

Emma probably curses us for passing on the short genes however they worked in our advantage today. Somehow we got pulled out of line waiting to board and were asked to board first with families that had small children.

If Alan Jones didn’t manage to kill a few of my brain cells, the woman sitting in front of me almost did, dropping a full steel drink container onto me when loading the overhead storage area, missing my head by a few millimeters. Yep, hell truly is other people.

On my Instagram post I ended up quoting part of John Denver song “I’m leaving on a Jet Plane”, which reminds me of one of my most favourite dad jokes. Q. Why is John Denver’s music like his aircraft ? A. Ultra Light and down to earth.

Maybe these aren’t the sort of jokes I should be thinking of sitting in a tin cylinder at 30,000ft in the sky. Thankfully 747s are the antithesis of ultra lights. And I don’t think I’d be caught dead with John Denver on my playlist.

See you later Australia !

Hello Thailand ! (Photo credits to Emma. I taught her well)

Up, up and away

The flight kept getting delayed, we are reminded why Singapore continually wins awards for service, everyone given a snack box whilst they wait.

The older A380s run by Singapore have economy on the upper deck as well. I remembered now why I’d picked this particular seat. Only 2 on the side, no one behind me but seat fully reclinable and being on the upper deck you get to board first. You can also stick things under your seat as well as under the seat in front as the exit row is behind you.

I’d probably be a little annoyed if I’d shelled out for business class on this one. Whilst the seats are roomy they are not the bed like ones and the leather looks a little tatty. Apparently this jet is 10 years old.

A Concorde is on the tarmac. Unfortunately it’s story is very sad. An historic piece of aviation history deserves a better ending than this.

The lady sitting next to me turns out to be an even bigger plane spotter / travel geek than what I am. I have someone to talk to for a while now.

Apart from the delay the flight is pretty uneventful. I don’t even mind this delay as it means I won’t be arriving in Singapore at 5am

Flying over Poland again. I’m remind myself at how awesome it and underrated it was as a travel destination. Put it on your agenda!

They ran out of the chicken before they got to me so I had the curry lamb instead. It was delicious.

Arrive Singapore. Through immigration, customs and have my bag, all in less than 10 minutes. Not sure how they can be this good, no wonder it’s consistently voted Best airport in the world. And in 5 more minutes I’m in the metro. It’s spotless and blasting nice cool air.

Perversely right at this moment it’s cooler in Singapore than it is in Europe suffering from the heat wave. Humidity still higher though. Oh, and a reminder I’m in Asia, a sign banning durians (for good reasons too!)

In 30 min I’m at Fort Canning MRT, and can see my hotel. Clarke Quay looks a nice little area to be staying

Checked into the hotel, room not ready to 12 so went for a walk around for about an hour and a half. My internal clock was telling me it’s still 3am so I headed back to make use of the pool area until the room is ready. Of course in Singapore this had to be accompanied by a Singapore Sling, but at $25 a pop won’t be having too many of these

Goodbye Amsterdam

After my coffee this morning I went back to the hotel to get my bags, checkout and head up to the station.

The hotel just after checkout

Amsterdam station is unlike any other in Europe I’ve been through, you need to scan your ticket to get on or off the platform concourse area, and once there, there is no digital board listing the departure platforms. I couldn’t find the paper listing anywhere so had to ask at the information desk. Of course my train leaves from the last platform quite a walk away. I grab an early sandwich here rather than taking it on the train with me.

The train arrives on time, departs on time and gets to Brussels on time which overall has been a rarity. This train is as fast as advertised just shy of 300kph. The only frustrating thing is the other passengers who don’t seem to be able to read the seat numbers against their ticket and hold up everyone else boarding. Hell really is other people sometimes.

The train is comfortable, only real complaint is no in seat power, which is super surprising for a first class high speed service. Thankfully I have my battery.

It’s horrendously hot for this part of the world and the aircon on the train is only barely coping. Thankfully it’s only a 2hr trip.

There are plenty of wind turbines and after a while I realise we have crossed the border into Belgium as on one of the generators it announces Wind4Flanders.

The most surprising thing really is the lack of green due to the heatwave. After a month of 30+ days with little rain everything is brown. Blink and I could swear I was on the Western Line in Sydney given the outlook. The occasional amazing church with their spires gives it away that I’m not at home.

Once in Brussels I eventually find the luggage storage area and where the Eurostar leaves from and attempt to store my luggage. I need 5 euros in coins and only have 3.50 so I have to purchase something to get coins. Do this and all is good until I then need to go to the loo and remember that in most of Europe to spend a penny it will cost a Euro ! I find a machine this time that converts notes to coins. Now I’m back to a stack of coins I won’t need. The cycle of currency waste continues….

Walking outside the station I’m hassled by two beggars in less than 1 minute. I was going to walk up to Palais de Justice but change my mind as it’s a 25 minute walk in 36c and decide to get a cold drink instead

Warm day here….

Walking outside I see this thing against the side of the wall in the middle of nowhere that looks just like a toilet. 2 seconds later a passerby uses it and removes any doubt. I guess it saves people just wizzing against the wall anywhere

Inside I find a cafe and get a cold iced coffee and am reminded I’m in the French speaking world as the coffee it terrible. Most station coffee is rubbish but it’s hard to mess up an iced coffee, even Starbucks do a decent iced coffee

You know you are in Belgium when the vending machines do waffles !

The Eurostar is again having issues (possibly heat related) delayed over an hour and a half out of Brussels. it’s reliability has certainly decreased over the past 12 months given my recent problems with them. They do promote themselves as better than flying but add in the delays and the now airport like security check and queues its not as clear cut. I did consider getting a ferry from Amsterdam to the UK, I’m thinking that would have been the better option. They announced we can claim compensation after 48 hours.

The queue behind me is way way worse. At least here in Brussels the waiting area is properly air conditioned unlike Paris.

finally on board. Was starting to worry they might cancel it

Once it gets going it really gets going. One slight bonus with the delay is that I won’t be dealing with peak hour on the tube getting from St Pancras to Paddington.

Hundreds of kilometres of fencing at Calais to prevent illegal immigration though the tunnel. At the section where the fencing starts it’s protected by two border guards.

9pm finally back in the UK. Flight leaves in the morning for Singapore

Leaving London

I’m leaving London yet again this holiday, third time in as many weeks I’ve departed this wonderful city once for Poland, once for France and now for Denmark. It’s a very weird feeling as Sharon and Emma are heading back to Sydney whilst I continue on. Emotionally it’s holidays ending, holidays starting and saying goodby to the family for two weeks all rolled into one.

We were in bed pretty early last night from the final day in Paris and transfer to London. Our day technically started again at about 20 past 12 in the AM when the fire alarm in our room went off for a few seconds. In my dazed half slumber I thought it was one of the multitude of electronic gadgets I have going off but then realised it was the alarm. It stopped then 5 minutes later came on again and didn’t stop. Looked in the corridor to see lots of people heading out, but couldn’t see or smell any smoke and looking out the window everything seemed fine. Before exiting into the cool night half naked I called reception who confirmed that another guest got busted smoking in their room. I could tell from his tone he was super pissed about it. For him it turned a quiet nightshift into a nightmare.

Once we were up and out (at a more reasonable 10am) we jumped on the tube to head to the Science Museum. Totally wow wow wow. For me this was complete nerd heaven. Not sure why I never visited it on my last trip, but on my next one I’m spending a full day in there.

Before entering we grabbed a quick bite at a mini Pret store, and the coffee was a surprisingly good one, better than I expected. Maybe it was just I’d gotten used to all the crap coffee in Paris.

Whilst we are on the subject of Paris, as much as I love Paris, as a city to visit London wins hands down. Paris may be the city of light, but as the saying goes when you are tired of London you are tired of life and I’m by no means tired of London. And as it’s only 2hrs by train you can hop over for the weekend.

They have James Watt’s workshop here in the museum.

They have stacks of cool stuff on display. Remember I saw someone riding a chopper bicycle in London about 2 weeks ago?

They even have the first computer I ever owned displayed (VIC20). Now I do feel old. They had all the greats from the 80s here

John will recognise this blast from the past :-

One fantastic thing about London is all the free museums. We spent a few hours here at the Science museum and it cost nothing (I donated the recommended £5, but it’s by no means compulsory). Could could spend a week visiting all the museums here and not spend a cent (or a penny) and London has some fabulous museums.

I couldn’t resist this t-shirt

After the science museum we headed over to the Guildhall to look at the underground Roman amphitheater they discovered, and again entry was completely free. Our day only cost us breakfast, lunch and a few tube rides.

Lunch was a few sandwiches and salads we bought at Tesco and at in the shade on the grounds of the Guildhall.

After checking this out, we tubed it back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and took the Heathrow express out to the airport. Sharon and Emma were departing from terminal 3 and I terminal 2. After helping Sharon and Emma checking in and saying our goodbyes I headed to terminal 2. I was through checkin and security in record time of about 5 minutes to discover my flight is delayed about an hour. C’est la vie…. at least it’s giving me time a plenty to write this blog post.

One positive about Terminal 2 is I found a place that does decent coffee. About a 7/10. Not bad for an airport

I’m now at the gate waiting for my flight to start boarding after a bit of a delay. Next post will be from Denmark. Home of Hygge and LEGO !