Going Places: When you hear London calling, try the King’s Cross area.
By MARILYN ROBITAILLE
I’ve noticed that often times people fall into two categories when it comes to travel: those who like to cover territory and those who’d prefer to unpack and settle in.
In the messy business of trip planning, if you’re of a mind that you need to see as much as you possibly can in the week or 10 days that you have, then that might mean hopping from one city, or even one country, to the next.
The whirlwind tour seems to fill the bill for people who believe they may have one shot to see as many places as they possibly can on their trip. The cliché “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium” captures the idea.
I once visited 19 states in a two-week road trip; I once took a European tour and visited eight countries in 10 days. It can be done; however, as I’ve grown older, I’ve veered away from taking things in at a quick glimpse to fuller immersion. The payoff is huge.
Wrapping my head around traveling to experience depth has not been a hard process to adapt to, especially since the ease and pace of the travel prove much more compatible to creature comforts. I’ve long been drawn to London (thanks to something in my DNA identified by the Ancestry.com spit test), and my attraction to all things British – Beatles, Jaguar, and Pimm’s to name a few items.
When you’re ready to experiment with the “depth” version of travel, and you hear London calling, try the King’s Cross area as a place to put down your temporary roots.
King’s Cross used to be a scary part of town complete with druggies on the sidewalks and dilapidated storefronts. Then a Renaissance occurred. The British Library moved in just down the street from the tube station. A fantastic venue called “The King’s Place” arrived to host first-class cultural events.
The train to Paris, which used to run from Waterloo Station, changed to St. Pancras Station, which is attached by beautiful shopping areas to King’s Cross. And let’s not forget Harry Potter and all he did for the area.
In addition to extravagant, pricey hotels, the King’s Cross area now offers a multitude of apartment options on VRBO, Airbnb, and other vacation rental options.
Even for a week-long trip, I rent an apartment because I like having my first cup of tea in my pajamas. I often eat dinner in a restaurant, but the wonderful markets have everything you need for breakfast, snacks and lunch.
The newest addition to the area just behind the King’s Cross station used to be a huge complex of industrial buildings originally built in the 1800s. Now the Granary’s been transformed into vibrant shopping, restaurants, movie theatres, open spaces for concerts and a weekly market.
The Granary’s bordered by Regent’s Canal, with its beautiful canal-side walkway that can take you all the way to Camden (home of a giant flea market).
One of my favorite discoveries I made as I was leisurely investigating Granary Square was a small longboat parked near the crosswalk that turned out to be bookstore. Poking through neat bookshelves for book bargains as I was gently rocked by the currents of Regent’s Canal proved both relaxing to my psyche and hard on my pocketbook.
Every time I return to “my” neighborhood, I discover new wonders, and the time I spend loafing, I make up for in efficiency. I know which ATM has the best rates; which kiosk has the best lamb kabobs; when the flower lady on the corner has the freshest flowers.
Of course, I still go farther afield, but my planning’s more relaxed. I like the luxury of unpacking, of not living out of a suitcase, of knowing a place that has truly become a “home away from home.”
I knew I had made the transition when I was in the neighbor park, reading and dozing on a blanket and someone came up and said, “Sorry, do you live nearby? I think I’m lost,” and I had no problem at all giving them directions.