Back in 2011, I decided to travel back to Athens from the UK overland. This entailed train, ferry and coach.
I started my journey from London St Pancras and travelled to Paris Gard du Nord by Eurostar.
VERY straightforward, except the problems with the London Underground from Paddington Station to Kings Cross St Pancras. London Underground had, in their wisdom, decided to close most of the underground lines running out of Paddington that day, so consequently a 7 min journey took me about half an hour and a change. Still, never mind – I figured this was all part of the experience.
We boarded on time; I found to my seat…Seat 25 all to myself with table, as in no-one sitting opposite me! I settled back to watch the grey English countryside roll away and await my promised ‘three course meal.’
The meal arrived, but you should think airplane style three course meal instead. Not that it wasn’t nice: mackerel paté, potato salad was OK, but the pasta was really bland.
The actual under the tunnel / English Channel section took 20 mins. I would recommend taking earplugs because, unlike an airplane, the pressure goes up and down quite frequently, playing havoc with the popping in your ears.
When I arrived in Gard du Nord, it was about 30 degrees and humid.
I have to make my way across to Bercy, this entails two metro changes, and the Paris metro seems even more complicated than the London Underground. Never mind, I had confidence in myself and knew I could do it, but it was so hot and Parisians—it seems—do not use much deodorant. So I was gagging by the time I surfaced.
“Ahhh Bercy!” I think, “Fresh air in an over ground station.” Yeah right…has anyone ever been to Bercy? I got chatting to a French gentleman who informed me that usually, the long distance trains go from Gard du Lyon, but they’re doing extensive works to it (at the time of writing).
So I found myself a quiet platform to plonk down on, away from the ever present smell of B.O. and I wait patiently for my train to Venice…all will be revealed in the next post!
Having read this back to myself, it reads terribly negative so far. It really hasn’t been a negative trip at all: the stewards on Eurostar were really friendly and chatty, helping you to store your luggage on the train. And when I asked how to get to Bercy, the one who helped me produced a map of the Paris Metro and helped me decipher it. In fact, one guy in the Metro helped me to pull my case onto it before the doors closed too – so there you have it, although slightly wiffy, I excused him at least.