Blue RoosterWe wake for our first full day on vacation to enjoy the slight spattering of water that dribbles over us as we take our morning showers. The first item on the agenda is to swing by a cash machine so that I can withdraw some money and stop relying on HK to cover the expenses. As we walk in the direction of Trafalgar Square looking for a cash machine, we end up stopping to grab a pastry and coffee at a coffee shop first.

“I’ll have a chai latte,” I say, along with a bagel. HK orders her coffee and breakfast item as well. Still not having been to the cash machine at this point, we are still relying on her card for payment. No worries though, because I was going to get some British pounds after breakfast and cover the rest of the day, which would involve food and tourist destinations such as The Churchill War Rooms.

So I took the food and drinks to the table while HK ran her card through the machine. It wasn’t long after sitting down that I could see there was a problem, so I got back up and went over to see the issue. Apparently, her card was being declined. “I know there is money in there,” she says, but with another attempt, it is still declined. “Do you take Euros?” we ask with each of us having plenty of the currency the rest of Europe uses. They didn’t. I ended up pulling out my US credit card, “I can put it on my credit card,” I tell them, “but it’s not a pin and chip card.” They respond with that it will work and we pay the charges on that.

For my US readers, Europe uses a PIN and chip system with all debit and credit cards for security purposes. So anytime a person pays for stuff they have to enter the card into a portable reader which reads the chip and PIN similar to a debit card reader in the US. I was able to pay with my card, and we sat to drink our coffee, with HK saying, “I was thinking, that I hoped you were eating fast because we might have had to run for it.”

After the food, the next stop was to the much-needed cash machine. I inserted my US debit card, entered my PIN, selected the amount to withdraw, and received a message on the screen that my card was expired. Yep, I didn’t even notice it, but the date on the card was expired. I’m sure my replacement card is sitting in a pile of mail at my place in the US just waiting for me to activate it. “This is getting ridiculous I said” but no worries, a new plan was formed. We could do a bank to bank transfers via our smartphones and the internet. All I needed to do was get online, set up a direct transfer into HK’s account and our problems would be solved.

And so we skipped the Churchill experience due to the delay it would take to transfer funds and went to one of the free museums instead in the city.

National GalleryAfter the museum, we meet up with a friend of HK at Leong’s Legend authentic Chinese food for lunch. We ordered our food using the sheet of paper they gave us with checkboxes on it. But there were some items not on that, so the guy taking our order wrote it down as well. Later a lady came out and told HK’s friend that they have a £8 pound per person minimum because she ordered a single item under £8 pounds. We explained that we also had food and since our other food items were over that and we were together it balances out. Of course due to us speaking English that didn’t seem to come through. They then brought the tea and the HK’s friends meal but not the rest. After waiting a while, we asked about the rest of the food and found out the waiter didn’t enter our order correctly. Apparently, he only entered the item he wrote down, not the stuff we checked on the list. In the end, we eventually received all our food, over multiple conversations, and three different times.

From lunch, we spent some time wandering around the park, watching squirrels hide nuts the park service leaves, before saying goodbye to HK’s friend, and heading back to the hotel to change and get ready for The Book of Mormon. Don’t worry fearless reader. Nothing bad happened at the show, before it, or after and the evening was lovely before calling it an early night to get up bright and early the next morning for our flight to Cyprus.