Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lincoln and Rachel in London: Day 3

This morning started a bit early -- because for today we were headed outside of London.

First, we stopped at a Barclays Bank branch where, thanks to my Bank of America account and the Global ATM Alliance, I could pick up a few pounds free from surcharges -- the withdrawal posted to my account at exactly the current exchange rate, no more or less. From there we backtracked to Pimlico to catch a ride on the Victoria line of the Tube to London Euston Station. At London Euston we collected tickets for a National Rail (London Midland) train calling at, among other stations Bletchley. With some miraculous timing, there was a train on the platform ready to depart as we came running up.
The half hour on the train passed quickly on a remarkably smooth ride through England's verdant countryside outside of London we arrived at Benchley. Alighting the train and working our way out of the small station we needed no help and maybe a few hundred yards of waking to locate our destination: Blecthley Park.

Bletchley Park was the home to the World War II-era codebrekaers working day and night to decipher the text of the German Enigma machines -- and also of particular note Alan Turing. As a technology professional I found it absolutely engaging, and Rachel was particularly captivated as she's found cryptography, and the Enigma in particular interesting.

A corner of the property also includes the National Museum of Computing; while the entire museum was not open, the galleries featuring a rebuilt Colossus, claimed to be the worlds first computer (though ENIAC was publicly known first, apparently Colossus had been computing in secrecy for a period of time before that.

Both institutions websites, or even better a personal visit, can do a much better job than this summary -- and regardless it is well worth the visit (for less than 40 GBP total fort the both of us, including train tickets).

Retracing our steps, we returned to the hotel just long enough to freshen up -- and drop off our book shop purchases -- before heading out to meet a friend and his wife for a pint at an authentic (non-tourist-ridden) pub across London. We elected to take the bus and -- well, Bus+:London Traffic+Rush Hour makes for a somewhat terrifying experience. But we made it to our destination, the Jerusalem Tavern.

The conversation and ale were both good (and I am not an ale drinker), and nearly three and a half hours later, we called it a night, while being walked by our hosts in the direction of an Underground station making for the comparatively easy ride on the Circle line to Westminster station and a quick half-mile walk back to our hotel.

Curiously we noticed this apology prominently posted in one of the stations: I think it's fantastic, but I can virtually guarantee in 2014 you would never see it on any American mass transit system:

We plan on getting a later start tomorrow.

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