Didn't we look happy? Such joy over heading to Paris. And yet that's where the drama, stress, and sweating begins. Let me explain.....
Long before we left the good ole USA, I booked our Eurostar train tickets to speedily transport us to Paris. And I purposely chose the cheaper run that left mid-morning to give us time to sleep in and not have to rush to the station. It was a win win. But despite the best intentions & prior planning, a relaxing morning is the antithesis of what we experienced. So today, you get to laugh along with my tale of woe (and learn what NOT to do).
First off, check out the car layout online before you buy tickets. In each train car, the seats on each end face the center. To complicate things more, the windows are very long, but not every "window" seat is actually beside a window. Since half of my excitement about the train was to watch the British & French countryside - a seat with a window was a must. So check on that before you reserve (you get to pick your specific seats online).
We left the hotel two and half hours before the train left. Eurostar recommends getting there 30 minutes early. So two hours for a subway trip with only one line transfer? Of course that's plenty of time to grab coffee, breakfast, & peruse the station. Or not. Waterloo Station was only 3 blocks from our hotel. So there we went, go rolling our suitcases down the street when we get to a crossroads. One sign says straight, the next sign says turn left to enter the station. So we went left. Wrong choice. We figured this out about 30 minutes into walking. We literally walked completely around the whole station before we came full circle to the block where we should have just walked straight. Thirty minutes people. And isn't just any station. It's huge. Like Alice in Wonderland after she eats the 'eat me' cookie huge. The destination of tons of commuter trains connect to London. Check it out on Google Maps. Your feet will feel my pain. Did I mention that I had blisters on my feet? And that it was 85 degrees? And that we were lugging suitcases for our adventure trek? And that I didn't have any coffee yet?
We finally get to the correct tube line, and have to wait 15 minutes for the next train. Of course we just missed it. Then it's another 20 minutes on the tube to the transfer point. And a long walk between them. With suitcases. Of course. Then a walk (and by walk I mean semi-run) between the tube station & the Eurostar station (St Pancras International). Only to arrive 15 minutes before the train left. To still have to go through the border patrol. And security. Needless to say the train was boarding when we rolled up. Sweating. Angry. And so scared we were going to miss that train I was about to break down and cry like the grown up 2 year old that I am.
The sense of relief that waved over me when my bottom sat in that seat was priceless. Nothing a Diet Coke & Peanut M&Ms couldn't fix. Plus their train safety packet in the seat pocket was way more like a magazine and actually fun to read.
So I can't tell you much about the station and its food options. But I can promise you if you leave twice as much time as you think you'll need to get there - it may not be enough. So double it. Better safe than sorry! At least you'd have a great breakfast treat & coffee in your belly.
Check out some of my blurry pictures from the train - it goes a measly 180mph once & gets you to Paris in just over 2 hours. This video at the end of the post doesn't do the view justice.
After stepping off the train, it took only a few minutes for all my non-French speaking fears to be faced. We weren't in Kansas anymore. Until tomorrow..... au revior!
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