2011 Europe by Rail – Day 27

PARIS to LONDON – through the Chunnel!

Tuesday – today we leave Paris and head to yet another land of history – England. More specific – the City of London.

We have enjoyed our stay in Paris – the apartment was great but in hindsight it was a bit too far out for us to just hop back, have a snooze and then go back out trekking.  File this information away for the next trip – stay close to the attractions!

It is good we have a late check out so we can take our time to  pack our bags making sure we haven’t left anything behind and Kylie takes this photo of the view from our apartment.  Not flash I admit (the view, not the photo) but up that street is the way we walked to the Louis Blanc Metro for our journeys into the city. Just thought you may like that little bit of trivia.

About 1pm we head out for the station Gare du Nord – even though our Eurostar doesn’t depart until 5.13 this afternoon.  We will get something to eat and drink and have a look around.

Arriving at the station it is packed but we are lucky to find a little nook in a bar type affair.  We have an appropriate beverage and then we take it in turns to investigate both inside and outside the station.  The Gare du Nord is the station for trains to Northern France and to international destinations in Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The complex was built between 1861 and 1864.

This is going to be a long afternoon – waiting, waiting, waiting for the time to board our train.  It is like international travel where we have to go through customs, get our passports stamped and then the security check-in but we are finally on our way.

Arriving at the waiting area, there are lots of little shops that remind me of the ones at the airports.  I buy some French perfume and other gifts for those at home – and then we are given the all clear to board so it’s down the stairs and along the platform.

We find our carriage and we have three seats together – two facing where we are going one one looking at where we have been.  Tyler and I face forward, Kylie goes backwards.  We also have sufficient supplies for the chunnel so we do not have to find the refreshment carriage.

I have bought some raspberry tarts or if you prefer Tartelletes aux Framboises.  I have had a passion for these ever since seeing them on an episode of Rosemary and Thyme.  Well, they look the same anyway. This is not my tart – it is a photo off the web.  Don’t they look scrumptious?  They were!!

It is good that we do not have to venture far as there seems to be an awful lot of schoolies that are wandering up and down the aisle.  They are mostly well behaved however so there are no problems.  We plug in our ipods etc and look out the window as we go.  It is not long before our views turn to black – we are now under the English Channel heading for London.

Arriving at St Pancras at 6.30pm we gather our bags and find ourselves on the busy platform.

The Olympic Games are being held in London in 2012 so we see the Olympic rings hanging over the exit and welcoming us to London.

We have decided to get a taxi to our hotel – Travelodge Aldgate East which is not far from the Tower of London.  Our driver is very talkative and seems to know where he is going until he pulls up outside the wrong Travelodge.  Nevermind – ours is not much further and it has been a good trip.  He tells us that it is very confusing to have two Travelodges so close together. After many apologies we arrive at the correct one.

We get our bags and goods and front up to the main desk.  The chap on reception is very friendly and even though the hotel is in a laneway – it seems clean and safe.  Up the lift to our rooms and everything is fine.  I will be glad to have a nice hot shower – but hang on – my lights have gone out.  The lights are worked on the card to the room but something is not working.  K&T are next door so a quick knock on their door – they have a quick squizz and still the lights don’t work.  Back downstairs to see the reception – he comes up to the room and seems to have fixed the problem.

I speak too soon – the lights have gone out again.  Back downstairs – back upstairs – he does some fiddling with the switch – plugs something in the card holder and then tells me I just have to use the switch for the lights and not the card.  OK – he goes – I stay in the room with the lights on until I feel it is safe enough to have a shower without being caught in the dark.

Once again, everything is right with the world – looking forward to seeing some more of one of my favourite countries tomorrow – we have booked an Evan Evans tour to Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge and Bath so it’s time for sleep

Highlight of the day : crossing the Chunnel

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