Wednesday, January 04, 2012

towards the mountains

The record winning LEGO Christmas Tree at St Pancreas Station

Paris at night

Tour Eiffel across the river Seine

There is always a gap in my blog when I am in England and this time has been no exception. It seems too difficult to write, although I am sure it would work fine if I put my mind to it. Nevertheless I am on foreign soil again and I have plenty to write about.

My late winter plan was disrupted somewhat so I didn’t get to spend time back at the straw bale house as I had planned. I came instead directly to Chalet Lou Rider for a third season.

I let the train take the strain, booking a succession of tickets that took me from Dronfield, Derbyshire where I had been staying with my parents, right through to the Pyrenees via London Paris and Toulouse. The journey took a day and a half, overnighting in a proper bed in a hotel rather than a night on a slow train without the option of a cabin, I chose the right option for sure.

St Pancreas station in London was packed with pre christmas travelers and the atmosphere was less frenetic than usual. A crowd had gathered around the largest lego Christmas Tree in the world, a record breaking achievement complete with a sign requesting people refrain from taking souveneirs away with them.

Booking in for the Eurostar stretch of the journey was so easy. Feed your ticket into a machine, pass through a quick security check, present your passport and you’re done. I settled in the lounge for an hours wait and got stuck into my book. Everything was going to plan until twenty minutes before departure. An announcement reported a gas leak on the line out of London and all trains were cancelled until further notice. A while later the same announcement was broadcast along with a request for non urgent travelers to postpone their journeys. I chatted with a french guy who had been in a similar situation before and he explained that if the delay was long, eurostar would accommodate passengers in a decent hotel, refund fares and offer alternative arrangements. He was excited at the proposition of a free trip for a bit of disruption and as I had connections to make I stayed put.

The delay was relatively short and the train left for Paris mid afternoon, announcements on the train suggested later connections for passengers and to speak to staff should an alternative not be presented. We sped through south east England, the tunnel and on to the french capital without further delay. I ended up arriving too late to get my connection so stayed overnight in Paris courtesy of Eurostar. An exceptionally comfortable room in a Mercure Hotel just round the corner from my departing station for the following morning. I dined in a bustling creperie took a nighttime stroll to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up for Christmas and made the most of my unexpected stopover. Thank you Eurostar, much appreciated.

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