London to Paris on Eurostar
It was time to head from London to Paris via the Eurostar through the Channel. We had a transfer arranged already thanks to our travel agent, and he arrived earlier than expected to load the bags. Five adults, five big suitcases, plus camera bags, small travel bags. Down those two flights of steep stairs for the (thankfully) last time.
St Pancras Station
We arrived at St Pancras Station in plenty of time and checked the luggage through to Paris. Then it was our turn. Passport control out of London. Ten steps later, it was passport control into France. While still in London. Twilight zone stuff. After clearing passport control, we then battled through airport security. I understand that they have to be careful, and I am glad they are. But geez, I was so over doing a semi strip at every security counter. Passing through the barrier and hoping it stayed green, thus avoiding the pat-down. Then retrieving everything once through. While they open the bag, checking the camera’s, looking in every pocket. “do you have any more camera’s or electronics”?? no! isn’t this enough? Came, lenses, iPad, iPhone. Road trips are starting to look so good.
With the early arrival of the cabbie, we had about 90mins to wait after getting through passport and security. We were on the 10:24 to Paris, not much to do, which led me to people watching.
The Channnel Tunnel
Sometimes called ‘the chunnel’, the Channel Tunnel is an undersea tunnel linking southern England and northern France. The Tunnel is 31.5 miles long, or 50.45 km, with 23.5 miles (37.9 km) of the Channel Tunnel is under the English Channel, making it the world’s longest undersea tunnel. The Eurostar travels through the Channel Tunnel at a speed of 100 miles per hour (160kph), although when the train is outside the tunnel, it reaches the rate of 186 miles per hour (300 kph). The ride was comfortable and even though we were racing along at speed. Although walking and not swaying to the buffet car was easy.
London to Paris was just a two-hour journey, and we arrived in Paris again to meet our transfer driver. Booking into the hotel, we were horrified and dismayed to find the elevator in the hotel was out-of-order. And being a Sunday, the engineer hadn’t turned up yet. So again we lugged the suitcases up two flights of stairs to our room..and one of our party was on the FOURTH floor, though thankfully, they weren’t as narrow or as steep this time. The hotel was charming, and the rooms were lovely.
After settling in, we all met up for dinner before a reasonably early night. The following day we met up for breakfast in the ‘salon’ (using the stairs still, no one trusted the tiny elevator) before heading out for the day. We jumped on the hop-on/off the bus and made our way into the city with all the signs in french we had no idea where we were going. Eventually, we ended up on embassy row. The US embassy is off a side street, with many other embassies and fancy shops lining the street. Soldiers with machine guns told us not to take pictures of the checkpoints (who are we to argue?). Even some doors were off-limits. Oh well. Here are some of the pics I didn’t take.
Wandering up and down, I tried some street photography before heading back to the bus and the Palais Garnier.
Paris Opera House
The Palais Garnier (Paris Opera House) is an AMAZING building. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go in, but the exterior! OMG. Built from 1861 – 1875, the 1,979 seat theatre was designed to house the Paris opera. The building is a blend of baroque, classicism and renaissance architecture. I could so see the phantom of the opera haunting the place.
Leaving the Opera House, we jumped back on the hop of/off the bus, headed back to the hotel for some downtime before heading back out to dinner.