The Final Countdown: Europe, North America travel blog

We are dropped off at the coach station early, as Jack had somewhere to be and it was easier for him. The bus to Manchester takes about an hour and twenty minutes, we arrive around 12.30, and have about 90 minutes wait for the bus to Windermere. Tony heads off to the tourist information office to get a map and local bus timetable. They can help with a map, but direct Tony to the Greater Manchester transport office. There is a timetable available, and they can show Tony where to catch the bus to the B&B, but they do not sell individual tickets (just weekly passes, etc).

Tony decides he has time to go to the mall to find a WH Smith and have another crack at getting the Kobo (ereader) sorted. The escalators are being repaired, so he has to go to the far end of the mall to take the stairs. There is no directory downstairs either, so he makes his way back towards the entrance. There is no sign of the shop, but he feels surely there must be one here somewhere. There are no stairs to replace the escalator, but he does find a lift to take him back to street level, just as well as he is running short of time. As he leaves the lift he sees the mall directory, he had missed it when he arrived because it was hidden by the construction mess. There is a WH Smiths, if he had turned right down the mall at the bottom of those stairs he would have seen it. Too far to go back now, but there might be time when we return from the lakes. There is time to call in for some food for tea tonight, and then get back to the coach station.

We leave Manchester for Preston where we will change buses. What a cold, depressing, draughty, horrible place their bus station is. It is long and wide, serving as a hub for local, regional and national services. It is good that it is all in one place, but it is well overdue for a good tarting up. Cynthea guards the bags while Tony heads off to the mall across the road in search of a late lunch, but there is not a lot about. Back at the bus station we call into the café for a hot drink. The café closes, and we wait back out in the cold for the bus to Windermere.

The drive through the Lake District is beautiful, the scenery is so gorgeous. We arrive late in the afternoon, and get a cab to the YHA, a couple of miles out of town. Distance aside, it was not a place we could have walked to easily, the road to the turn off was quite busy, and the road to the hostel is steep, narrow and winding, and there are no lights or paths. It is a nice hostel, everything here that we need. They had called us earlier in the day, asking if we wanted to order a cooked meal, but the restaurant closed at 7pm, and we were not sure we would make it for that. They have a bar, and snacks are available. We are in a room with two bunks, £32 for the night, but there is just us tonight. Just as well, because it is fairly cramped, there is hardly room for our luggage, never mind two others with theirs. We spend the night in the dining room chatting to other travellers.

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