Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

london's congestion fee

An amazingly viewful dinner at OXO Harvey Nicks was our welcome to London Tuesday night. The meal for media was in a restaurant high a tower on the south bank of the Thames with great city views of St. Paul's and the river traffic far below.
En route into the city from our Heathrow Marriott Hotel we learned about the inner city Congestion Zone, a plan that has kept central London more or less free from traffic snarls. Built long before cars came into existence its streets are narrow and parking if difficult to say the least.

An 8-pound fee (about $13) is assessed to motorists during working hours and it's enforced by remote cameras that record license plates. Those who don't pay are fined 80 pounds (about $100) So needless to say that encourages people to use public transportation, which includes the legendary tube or Underground — a subway system that works quite efficiently and goes everywhere. The per ride charge is about 4 pounds, but residents and those who use if more than once or twice can get a pass that costs significantly less.

This morning motorcoaches transported our group of writers 90 minutes to Southampton, a busy English Channel port city where Celebrity's Equinox was at anchor. We've spent the afternoon exploring the ship, and discovering its many beautiful and interesting spaces. We have a veranda, perfectly amazing shower and many intuitive touches A deck 5 espresso bar was heavensent for our jetlag.

We checked out the spa and huge exercise room. Since my guest Nancy and I know each other from the gym at Mentor-Heisley we've tried to keep up our workouts here, starting our morning with exercise at the Heathrow Marriott. Our footwear wasn't quite the thing during our visit to the ship's gym but here's Nancy on the eliptical. Perhaps our workouts on this two-day cruise will help cancel out all the food and wine.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I grow up I want to be a travel writer! Sounds like you are always doing interesting stuff.

July 30, 2009 at 5:47 PM 
Blogger News-Herald Blogs said...

Everyone says that. It's a great job but really intense and one needs a lot of energy. I make a 2-day visit to places for which any thinking person would take a week or more. Interesting stuff is, however, everywhere. When you need to keep writing things you really do look for it...and that's the secret to keeping the old energy level high. But please keep reading and I'll try to give you plenty to dream about and plan for.

August 2, 2009 at 11:10 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a great looking ship! Are there more pictures available?

August 3, 2009 at 9:14 AM 
Blogger jules said...

Just one more great janet story. Got the politics, got the traffic, got the perfect details to give us readers the feel of the place. Sweet!

Hey, and I tried without success to post this response to your fabulous art & light article:
I agree with the others — a great story! Got light, got art, got history, even got tomatoes! Extra nice.

August 14, 2009 at 12:29 PM 

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