London to Paris … and a Bite to Eat.
Yesterday was a travel day … a rail travel day. The first leg was the Eurostar from London to Paris and, unlike other trains, there is real security for this one. Luggage goes through the machine, pockets emptied into a tray, walk through the metal detector and … BEEP! … my titanium knee sets it off. And, just like at U.S. airports, a big, serious guy comes over and the pat-down begins. Still, since these trains spend about 20 minutes passing through the “chunnel” under the English Channel, no one seems to object.
This was my third trip on Eurostar and, as was the case two years ago, it was my impression that the interiors of the rail as seem a bit threadbare. The color scheme is a bit drab to start with, but the car — “carriage” is the term used here — really needed refurbishing.
The trip itself was fine … fast, comfortable and on time. I was in a seating configuration for four: two seats facing each other with a table in between. Two of the seats were occupied by two young Chinese girls; in the third, across from me, was a young college-age student from Japan at tending college in the U.S. at U.C. Berkeley. He spoke with a heavy accent, but was animated, engaging and very personable. The two girls spoke very little and only to each other. Most of the time they were leafing through fashion magazines.
The Paris terminus for the Eurostar trains is the Gare du Nord and it’s probably a classic example of a busy European railway station, with hundreds of people streaming through the huge facility on their way to departing trains or hurrying through the station to the busy streets outside. It was close to noon when I arrived and I trundled my suitcase and small carry-on bag across the rue de Dunkerque to Terminus Nord for a bite of lunch.
This place caters to rail travelers. How do I know that? I entered, pausing at the door for not more than 10 seconds, when I man in a dark suit, approached briskly, elevated his eyebrows and held up one finger. Translation: “Table for one?” I nodded and before I had a chance to take a step, he grasped the handle of my rolling suitcase and headed off into the bustling restaurant. With one hand he expertly spun my bags around and parked them in a little out-of-the-way niche; with the other, he slid a small table out from the wall and nodded for me to have a seat. He scurried off and was immediately replaced by a white-coated waiter who took my order: French onion soup (of course), Caeser salad and a glass of superb white wine.
Bienvenu en France!