The sauna train arrived into London Euston almost ten minutes early. Several of the train crew had to be picked up off the floor following this startling and unprecedented development.
With a few hours to kill before ‘checking in’ at the place where I’m going to spend the night I decided to get something to eat. London Euston is one of three large terminus stations that are in close proximity to one another, the other two being St Pancreas International and Kings Cross. As you’d expect, this means there are a large number of coffee shops, ‘Upper Crusts’ and ‘Nandos’ in the vicinity. I decided that, of these, Nandos was probably the best bet for an actual meal, so set out to find one.
(Handy travel tip: If you’re ever after a Nandos around one of these three stations, don’t bother with the one in Euston: The seating area for people waiting to be seated is actually larger than the seating area they’re waiting for – no joke. A much better bet is the Nandos hidden away down the east side of Kings Cross.)
London Kings Cross has undergone something of a transformation in recent years. Gone are the drab exterior and overly cramped waiting area, the external facade of the building has been completely restored and, when waiting for your train, you are now presented with this:
It was once said that stations were the ‘new cathedrals’ of their time. Kings Cross is certainly upholding that tradition. You may think that it’s just been keeping pace in the architectural arms race that was kicked off by St Pancras over a decade ago but still, the refurbished station is a very impressive sight (especially at night). Euston, meanwhile, has watched from the sidelines and, with a shrug, done nothing.
Entering Nandos I was faced the timeless problem that anyone who’s every travelled anywhere on their own with a large bag will have experienced: How do I order my meal, keep my table and not get my bag stolen all-at-the-same-time. In Nandos this problem is amplified because you are shown to your table, to which the chicken thingy is added, and then have to go up to order your food from the till.
Luckily my table was ‘out of the way’ so I felt confident enough to leave my large rucksack by the table while going to order. There is, however, another problem:
This is London.
A large bag left unattended makes people…well…nervous.
I figured I had around five minutes from leaving my bag before somebody called the bomb squad. Trouble at the till meant I ran dangerously close to this time limit. When I returned to my table the customers at the surrounding tables had already gone through phases one and two of the ‘it-may-be-a-bomb’ process (looking nervously at each other; edging slightly away from my table) and were just about to start phase three (tweeting about their concerns).
Upon my return a wave of relief rippled through that corner of the restaurant; people settled back into their conversations and meals confident that I was just another customer after all.