January 17, 2011

training for the olympics

The first stop on our tour of London was a walking tour around the Olympic venues.  To get there was easy.  Take the Picadilly line from Russel Square up to Kings Cross St. Pancras and transfer to the Hammersmith and City line which would take us East directly to Bromley by Bow where we would meet our guide.  Nothing could be easier right?  Except that when we got to Kings Cross, the train to Bromley by Bow was pretty full.  But we jammed ourselves on like true Londoners.  At the last second I noticed that some of our students had not jammed themselves on the train and a voice in the back of my head said ‘jump off.’  I ignored the little voice because we had given them clear instructions that if they didn’t make it on this train just jump on the next on and we would meet up on the platform at our destination.

When we arrived at Bromley by Bow, we did a quick count and realized we had a little more than half of our group.  When the next train pulled in we looked for the rest of the group, but not a single student got off the train.  Soon another train pulled in and I noticed that this was a district line train so I didn’t expect any students to get off.  Well, train after train came into the station but they were all district line trains.  That voice in the back of my head told me ‘somethings not right’  so I went up to the ticket office to inquire when the next Hammersmith and City train was expected.  ”Service is suspended.” he told me.

“Till when?”  I asked.

“indefinitely.” I was told.

Crap!  Why didn’t I listen to that voice that told me to jump off the train?  Time to regroup.  Craig and I decided that he would take the students that were here on the tour and I would wait at the station.  We knew that within the group there was the intelligence to figure out a way to get down to the district line and out here eventually.  I would meet them and call craig and we would figure out how to catch up.

So, Craig and the guide and the group took off in the rain on the tour and I hung out in the station.  Pretty soon I noticed that there were not any district line trains coming in any more.  So, back to the information desk.  Yep, District line service is also suspended due to signaling problems at Bow Road station.  Well, that does it, I had already waited around the station for 40 minutes so there was no way they were going to make it now and even if they did the tour would be finishing up.  So I hopped on the next train heading back in.  As I passed each station, I scanned the faces on the platform on the other side.  If I saw the group I could hop off and catch up with them.  But they were no where to be seen.

It took me about an hour to get back to Russell square and our hotel and when I walked in a group of the cheerfully greeted me in the lobby.  ”We tried to catch up with you but all the lines were suspended.”  They had their own odyssey of planes and busses and walking in the rain that you can read about on the class blog.  (  They had tried their best using all of their ingenuity to catch up with us, but it just was not to be.  They were all safe, and sound and much the better for having to learn how to navigate the London Tube system on their own.

Now, if you have been following this blog you may be wondering how on earth I came to be allowed to lead students abroad.  Torn ligaments, separated shoulders, leaving students behind on busses and trains.  Is there any defense for all that?  Nope, these are ingenious  Luther students, in every case they knew where they had to be and how to get there.  In my mind this is part of the experience of learning how to navigate your way around a foreign country.  We’re having a blast and we’ll make sure we get everyone home in one piece.

Today we are off to Wimbledon, and looking forward to our meetings and tour there.  But, if I do hear that voice telling me to jump off the train to stay with the group, I think I’ll listen to it today.