Au revoir France

TGV travellers:

Hey bunch what on earth is that thing on his head? Is it a bomb? What then? His energy pack? Yes I can see he is Jewish and that he is reading his Bible but that doesn’t explain that pack. I must google it, as he had one on his arm as well. It looked a bit like an AC adaptor, with a plastic ribbon that wrapped around his head and then around and down his arm to another similar device, which we have never seen before. And now he is sitting down again and bowing countless times… Dutchy thought he may be trying to contact aliens.

Travelling during July and August, being summer, many shops are closed but accommodation was more available for us because friends’ families were away on holidays. There are advantages and disadvantages with any choice.

Hurtling towards Paris in the TGV, I spent almost the entire trip on the computer. When you travel in first class, you get a power point. If you remember to bring a European adaptor as we did this time, by the time you reach Paris you still have a fully-charged battery ready to go. The time flew, and before we knew it, we were at the Gare du Nord, ready to find our hotel we had booked months ago on the internet.

New Hotel Gare du Nord, Paris:

Exit Gare du Nord at Sortie (exit) rue de Dunkerque, which is the main station. Directly opposite the glass façade, which is the newer part next to the original stone building, you will see a street. On the left-hand side in white letters on a red background, there is a vertical sign “NEW HOTEL.” This is 40 rue de Saint Quentin and you are “home.” We called it home for one night anyway.

We received a warm welcome by young Ben on reception, who sent us up the little lift to the sixth floor. Never book a hotel that says “pas d’ascenseurs” because that would mean there were no lifts, or elevators if you are American.

Though the wallpaper was a little torn in parts, the room was decorated in autumnal tonings which were quite pleasing to the eye. Dutchy was pleased that there was a room safe, and cooling, we were both happy there was free wi-fi, and I was ecstatic because there was a bath. How I love a bath after a long walk. Needless to say, we then had a long walk, but not before we had ducked out to the nearest patisserie to have afternoon tea, knowing it was our last opportunity for French treats.

Interestingly enough, there was also cable television. Later that evening we watched an episode of XXL, with lots of nude bodies and a vague story line, but very tastefully done. The rest I will leave to your imagination.

Eurostar is still the star:

That sinking feeling when you have lost someone in a large area is scary, even though realistically you know they haven’t been abducted by aliens or white slave traders, and they are big enough to handle themselves. It’s a primeval thing, such as happened at the Gare du Nord. We had such a smooth departure from our hotel across the road to the station, it was almost too good to be true. And it was! We walked over to the huge departure board, bringing back memories from 1981 when I had a Eurail Youth Pass and spent many hours at various stations in Europe, second-class, sometimes sleeping overnight on the floor of trains. Ah, the things you do when you’re young. Not my style any longer, I’m afraid.

Anyway, back to the story. We had agreed that departures for Eurostar were on the 1st floor, but apparently we both pointed in different directions, and there are two 1st floors. I turned around and he was nowhere to be found. Stay calm I told myself. It’s all right, he’ll turn up in a minute, but he didn’t. I had headed off diagonally to the escalator as any sane person would do, but then I didn’t know whether to go upstairs or wait for him there. In the end I went up the escalator to “enregistrement” which is check-in, but he wasn’t there either.

At this stage I was getting rather anxious, and not just because he had my ticket and passport. I realised I loved him and didn’t want to lose him. Of course, once we found each other upstairs (in the correct area) then we could be annoyed at each other! Typical married couple.

So then it was adieu Paris and hello London.

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