I love the mass transit systems here in Europe.
We started out yesterday with a 6am wake-up call so we could get to our first Train ride. Sans coffee or breakfast, we got to the Embankment Tube station before 6:45. We drug our big fat American luggage down the 68 steps (Judy counted) from our London flat over to the Tube, on the Tube to Euston Station… then pulled them over to San Pancras International Train Station. Ok… by 7am, I am sweating like a pig because one, it was a workout… I’ve got a nylonish backpack strapped to my back (where Harold is strapped to the outside of), I have my computer case, and then my medium sized rolly luggage. AND two… London is experiencing a heatwave… so it was getting warm already!
Once inside (still no breakfast/coffee, mind you) we make our way to the Eurostar security line (it’s international, so it’s like the border… we put in our paper ticket into a machine and it okays it… then you go thru the scanner thingie… like airports except you don’t take off your shoes… and there is a nice person there helping you throw your luggage and belongings onto the conveyor belt. You go thru to the little window where the French guy didn’t even look at me. Then it was to the lounge until our train was at the platform. This was our 20 minutes to go stand in another line for breakfast. Cafe Nero. It had some yogurt (which by the way, London and France make the BEST YOGURT EVER! I am telling you!) in a honey flavor, we brought this onto the train, deciding that coffee should wait until our luggage was on the train (they would have coffee on the train).
So the Eurostar Train went thru the Chunnel, which was only about 20 minutes of our trek, to Paris… where we’d take the Metro to Gare d’Lyon where we’d hop the TGV to Aix. The Metro is a nicer subway train in itself, but the station is more confusing… or maybe it’s just that everything is in French. But we had a little layover there at Gare d’Lyon, which was good because we were having ticket issues. The little ticket machine wouldn’t print ours… so, we went to the ticket line… and in typical French fashion.. huge line, 2 windows open. Judy theorizes that they are so long because the French want to give you time to figure out the problem before you get to the window. Which we did…we tried another ticket machine. But not before we witnessed a “line-jumper” which we were warned about in the book, “The Sweet Life in Paris”…. it was fantastic, because this older fellow cut twice… the second time he cut in front of a woman with several small kids… uh uh… she gave that guy so much grief… yelling and elbowing him after he pushed past her to the window. She would not let him win! And it worked! He went back to the line… and people kept pushing him back further in the line until, I presume, he missed his train and gave up. Such drama francais!
I will leave this blog entry here, as it is quite long. I will pick up from Paris to Aix in the next entry.