41 hours. The total time spent from the moment my Eurostar train left London on Wednesday until my return Thursday evening. While I have certainly done stupider turn-around trips, this one included 10.5 hours on trains, but luckily I like trains. And cold alcoholic refreshments help pass the time.
This operation started with a zero-4 wake-up and a 0440 Addison and Lee pick-up. I was shocked to discover that the car was on time. With the increased Uber presence in London, you’d think that AddLee would have upped their game, but in reality, the only thing that has increased are their prices.
Arrived at St. Pancras quickly and whisked through security and passport control, both the human and machine variant. A short wait and then onto the train. Luckily the outbound journey was on one of the old-school e300 trains. These are far superior in almost every way their younger siblings. More on that in the editorial I’m planning for http://riddlemagazine.com/. It’ll be one of those classic Donald Rants.
(e300 in the foreground, e320 is the blue train)
(Rocket-ship on rails)
(Corridor on the e300)
I ended up spending almost the entire trip to Paris in the bar-car, as I do most of the time. I met a lovely couple from Winnipeg who were heading to Paris for the first time. When asked what the main attraction in Winnipeg was, I was informed it was the point in town where the Red River and Assiniboine River met. I asked if it was a good swimming spot. They said it’s where the dump the bodies. After a lengthy discussion on Canadian and American politics I discovered that they were staying half-way between Gare du Nord and Gare Montparnasse, my destination. So, without thinking twice, I decided to drag them through the Metro with me to their stop, and miraculously, we made it without any drama. Although Mr. Winnipeg did mention that the Paris Metro wasn’t up to scratch when compared to the Tube.
With the Canucks departing at Les Halles, I checked the time and noticed that I was in with a shot of making an earlier train to my target destination. I had been worried that making the connection between the two stations couldn’t be done reliably within 40 minutes, but on Wednesday I was getting luckily. Getting off at Montparnasse I hauled ass for the epic walk that is required to get to the primary departures hall for SNCF, but as things turned out, my speed walking wasn’t that necessary since the trained was retarded. You know, French for late. So, I would have made the train anyway, but even had my pace been off, I still would have probably made the train, and saved a minimum of 90 minutes.
With the platform called I moved off and found a cosy spot in the bar-car and started to wonder if the conductor was going to check my ticket. I had a first class ticket for a later train, but was still worried that I’d be slapped with a fine for jumping the earlier train. Naturally the train conductors only checked the tickets of two black women in the three hours I was standing in the bar. Racists.
Just over 3.5 hours later I was deposited in near-Coastal Brittany. Pops was one sight and a quick ride was provided to the parental unit’s French house. After dropping off my luggage I went for a little stroll around the surrounding area. It’s always good to get out of the Big Smoke when the opportunity presents itself.
My parents spend half the year near a large body of water, and while it might have been too cold for a swim, I did take a stroll along the beach.
The countryside is a place that I, like many people I’m sure, find tranquil and calming. It’d also be a good place to be a serial killer, but I digress. Where I live in London, even though it’s Zone 2! it’s never really that quiet. Helicopters, planes, buses, lorries, ambulances, police, the local pub etc. Getting into the countryside is one of those peaceful opportunities to allow the sounds of nature to take over your senses and left your muscles relax.
(Blast doors lowered for the next six months)
Unfortunately, my sojourn to the countryside was short lived, and Thursday afternoon I was on another SNCF train racing north to Paris. Lots of luggage and a Yorkie in tow, hell, the only reason I was invited was to help drag luggage to my parent’s hotel.
After arriving into Paris it was a quick taxi ride to my parent’s hotel before Dad, Max and I took a quick stroll to the Seine for a photo-op.
(Right across from Gare du Nord)
(Giant red vampire bear?)
A quick dinner at the Terminus du Nord was in order before heading into the ghetto that is Gare du Nord where some Eurostar staff were holding signs at the bottom of the escalators advising us that bringing explosives onto the train was prohibited. Thanks!
Waiting to board the train in the dump that is the Eurostar waiting area. They added a Foosball table since my last visit. I’m not sure if that’s some pathetic attempt to entertain the plebs that were waiting with me, but it’s a weak attempt by the overpriced company that is Eurostar at increasing the visitor experience in the station.
Hate is an understatement when I think about the new trains. Eurostar would have been better off refurbishing their existing stock. Oh, but NO! We want something new and shiny. We don’t care if it offers a shit ride, uncomfortable seats in over-lit compartments and a bar-car that is quietly telling you to piss-off and go back to your seat.
Waiting for the party to start. This new bar-car is an abortion.
Are we there yet? Well it was a quick trip but at least I got some words into my notebook for Standish. I do have to say that France looked in a grim state during my visit. Change is required. I’m not sure what the answer is, but something must be done. At the same time, the United Kingdom faces an uncertain future thanks to the mentally retarded people who voted for Brexit. Time will tell.