Okay….I’m the first one to bitch when we do things badly in Indy. But let me tell you–we’re WONDERFUL compared to Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Here is my tale of …woe, or whatever.
We disembarked from our fabulous cruise ship this morning, in Tilbury, outside London, and we were bussed to Victoria Station. (The cruise was wonderful, by the way. No complaints. I hope we can do it again.) We took a taxi to Marleybone Station, and the train from there to Stratford-upon-Avon. (NOT Stratford ON Avon–if you search British rail for that, you come up empty. It’s UPON, thank you very much.) The train was great. Prompt, clean, user-friendly. Impressive bathrooms.
We got to Stratford UPON Avon at 3:30 in the afternoon. Although it is quite a bustling place, there were no taxis at the station. I asked the sole employee of the place how we might get a taxi, and she pointed (disinterestedly) to a bulletin board with taxi numbers–none of which I was able to reach. I asked the ticket agent what I was doing wrong, and she responded “I have no idea” and turned away. I assumed my inability to get through was my lack of understanding of Iphone calling in another country, but an incredibly nice young man who turned out to be from Cincinnati told me that he’d actually gotten through, and been told that the distance from the train station to the town center was too short to justify a taxi–“you can just walk.”
So my 80-year-old spouse and I schlepped our three bags–one huge one that we’d hoped to ship home but couldn’t and two smaller ones–into the center of Stratford. And schlepped. And schlepped. Meanwhile, my poor husband was coughing and hacking, having caught a cold earlier in the week. After we’d walked a considerable distance, we saw–oh joy!–a cab stand. I ran toward the cab in front, dragging my gigantic Kirkland suitcase; he opened the door. I told him the name of our hotel. He closed the door.
“It’s a five-minute walk. Just at the bottom of that street, then turn right.”
On we went. Both of us schlepping. Bob coughing. Me sweating. (And no, I was NOT in a good mood at this point.)
We finally found our hotel. We even found the check-in desk (not a simple task.) We were informed that our room was on the first floor (in Europe that is the first floor ABOVE the ground floor). No help with our bags, no elevator. Steep stairs. No apparent concern from the desk clerk.
We had reserved and paid for tickets to “As you like it” at the Shakespeare theater, but Bob’s cough was really bad. We figured we’d do the other patrons a favor and skip the performance, but I was really worried about Bob, and asked the desk clerk where I might find a drugstore/chemist. She gave me (incorrect) directions, and I took off, fairly panicked at his constant hacking. Several wrong turns and four requests for directions later, I found a lovely lady pharmacist in a large drugstore called Boots. That was the store the desk clerk had suggested, but nowhere remotely near where she told me it was located. The nice lady sold me a cough medicine and I (literally) ran back to our hotel. (It has helped already, to my great relief. Wives really do worry…)
There’s no WiFi in our room, so we are currently in the hotel bar, responding to email and (in my case) drinking. And listening to Bob’s (thankfully diminishing) coughing.
The bar television is turned to a cricket match. I’m sure Mayor Ballard would be delighted.
All of this reminded me that, back when I was in City Hall, Mayor Bill would periodically have meetings with cab drivers and hotel personnel in the downtown area. He would remind them how important they were–how important first impressions of a city can be.
Let’s just say I’m not a fan of Stratford UPON or ON or UNDER Avon. IF there is a Chamber of Commerce in this place, they are doing a crappy job.