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Old 12-06-2013, 05:29 PM   #31
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Looking forward to hearing about your day in Paris!
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Old 12-07-2013, 02:08 AM   #32
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Looking forward to hearing about your day in Paris!
First instalment coming right up!
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Old 12-07-2013, 02:27 AM   #33
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Thursday 5 December – part one: this is longer than I remember!

The alarm went off at the usual time for us, just before 6:00am, as we needed to get going fairly early. Our train was leaving at 8:12am, but we had to be checked in 30 minutes beforehand and it’s about a 20 minute drive to get there.

The one big issue we both had before we left was what on earth to wear. It didn’t seem that cold outside, but last night, Accuweather had said that the real-feel temperature in Paris would be in the low 30s. Now it was saying mid to low 30s. Hmm… what to wear? In the end, I decided to take both options, a fleece and my big winter coat.

We set off just after 7:00am and had a good run up to Ebbsfleet International station, which is where the Eurostar trains run from. Actually, that’s not entirely true. They do also run from St. Pancras International to the north of London, and Ashford International, which is south of us. We’re about the same distance from both Ebbsfleet and Ashford, but Ebbsfleet has more services, which is why we tend to go from there.

When we got to Ebbsfleet, we were greeted with a stunning sunrise…



I hope that’s a good omen for the rest of the day.

We were a bit shocked to see how busy the car parks were. They were even busier than when we had parked here for the Olympics in the summer of 2012. As a result, we didn’t even bother with our usual car park, but instead went straight for the one opposite, as there were more spaces closer to the terminal building.

As soon as I got out of the car, my mind was made up about what to wear today. It’s the winter coat for me as the wind was really biting here.

We headed into the terminal building and got two hot chocolates, although these had to be the longest hot chocolates to make in the world. I went to use the toilets, came back and Mark was just paying, then the woman tried to make us coffee. I don’t think so as neither of us drink coffee. By the time we got our hot chocolates, it was about 35 minutes to our train departure time, and you had to be checked in at the latest half an hour beforehand.


The sunrise still looked stunning from the terminal building


We scanned our tickets at the gates and headed through to security. I was a bit worried about our hot chocolates, although I knew from Eurostar’s website that they didn’t have any restrictions on liquids. We had no need to worry. We were told the drinks could go through the security scanner, as they had special drinks holders for them. How cool! Now why airports can’t do that, I don’t know.

I had to have a pat down, after going through the scanner, as my Eeypre necklace set off the detector. So that’s Seattle and Ebbsfleet that’s happened in all our travels!

Then we passed through British and French customs, showing our passports twice and we were into the waiting area…



The view outside was lovely with the light from the sky illuminating it.


One of the high speed trains that runs from Kent to London


We sat and drank our hot chocolates and waited to be called for boarding. They normally get you down to the platform about 10 minutes before the train is due to arrive, then everyone is positioned and ready to go when it gets in and it can make a quick stop before going again.

That’s exactly what happened, and about 10 minutes beforehand, we were indeed called down. When you get there, it’s all clearly marked with where you go for which carriage. We were in coach five, so we made our way down there, as did most of the other passengers.



As the train arrived, you could see how many carriages there were and how long each one was. I’d forgotten how long these trains were. By the way, this was not shot on multi-burst. This was me taking a photo, and after the camera takes, it shows you what it’s taken, before you can take another one, so this gives you an idea of how long it took to come into the platform…



Finally, the train came to a stop and we were ready to board. When we got to our seats, there was a woman sitting in them. As we arrived with our tickets in hand, she turned to what I assume was her husband and said “well, it was worth a try…” Well, it was, but it didn’t work out for you… and bearing in mind you knew there was another stop 20 minutes after you left London, perhaps waiting until after that stop to change seats would’ve been a good plan?


Inside the train – we had a table

By the time she had moved and we had got in there, there was a massive line of people behind us, so we quickly took our seats and as we did, we were already starting to pull away.

Next: flying through the British and French countryside
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:21 AM   #34
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Beautiful sunrise! Ebbsfleet is a fun name! I think I will make hot chocolate for breakfast for some reason now.... How rude of that woman! She wasn't using her brain at all.
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:43 AM   #35
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Beautiful sunrise! Ebbsfleet is a fun name!
I've never thought about it before...

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I think I will make hot chocolate for breakfast for some reason now....
Can't think why!

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How rude of that woman! She wasn't using her brain at all.
she wasn't!
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Old 12-07-2013, 08:04 AM   #36
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How great to hop on a train to Paris or Brussells! I think I'd do that all the time if I lived there!
Annoying that the folks in your assigned seats ended up creating a log jam with boarding.
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:26 AM   #37
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How great to hop on a train to Paris or Brussells! I think I'd do that all the time if I lived there!
While it sounds appealing, it's not that cheap. Although we got a deal on this, prices are usually more like £180 ($290) for the two of us to get away for a weekend, and that's before you add on a hotel if you want to go for more than a day...
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:04 PM   #38
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Beautiful sunrise! The train seating looks spacious and well-maintained. I love train travel, so relaxing to let someone else do the driving.
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:10 PM   #39
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Beautiful sunrise! The train seating looks spacious and well-maintained. I love train travel, so relaxing to let someone else do the driving.
It is very relaxing not to have anyone drive. The seating is fine, although I wouldn't want to sit in it for more than say three or three and a half hours. That would be about my limit.
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Old 12-07-2013, 04:01 PM   #40
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Beautiful sunrise as you head out to Paris!
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:01 AM   #41
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Thursday 5 December – part two: flying through the British and French countryside

For the next half hour or so, we passed through the Kent countryside, which is where we live, which was beautiful and again the lighting was lovely. Sadly, it was tough to get photos, as you had all the lights from the inside of the train, which don’t work so well when you’re trying to photograph out of a window.


The depot for those high speed trains


Here you don’t actually seem to enter the tunnel at the same point as you do if you’re driving using Eurotunnel, as we went past their terminal and carried on for a few minutes more.



We passed the half hour that we were in the tunnel for by chatting to the couple opposite us, who were playing cards with Hawaii on the back of them. It turned out that they went to Hawaii on their honeymoon and he’s from Vancouver and she’s from Atlanta. They actually met at a softball league in London. They’ve lived in the UK for many years and they were a lot of fun to talk to. She was winning comprehensively at cards by the way. As he said, it’s because he was talking to us and he couldn’t multi-task… his words, not mine!

Before we knew it, we were coming into France. It was fascinating to see some of the roads that we normally drive along from a different perspective…


This fascinated me – I’ve never seen so many TGVs (train de grand vitesse or high speed train) in one place before…


As we flew through the French countryside at speeds of up to 180 miles an hour, they announced that you could buy tickets for the Metro in the buffet car, so Mark went to investigate because, as they said, it would save us time when we got there and let’s be honest, we don’t have that much time today.

We ended up with a set of 10 tickets each, which worked perfectly, as they’re good whenever, so if we don’t use them this time, we can use them one day on a future trip…

As we had about half an hour to go, we both went to use the restrooms on board the train, which is an interesting experience. On a high speed train, let’s just say I know why they’ve got a grab rail for you to use, as you do feel the movement a bit more in there than you do in your seat.

Soon we were coming into Paris…


Sadly Paris is known for its graffiti, and today was no exception

Next: it’s not as good when you sing!
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:45 AM   #42
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Sadly, it looks a lot like Chicago with the graffiti. Glad to see you've arrived in Paris!
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Old 12-08-2013, 06:57 AM   #43
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Sadly, it looks a lot like Chicago with the graffiti. Glad to see you've arrived in Paris!
I think most cities are plagued with that problem these days, although I have to say we never saw any graffiti while we were in Chicago.
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Old 12-08-2013, 10:05 AM   #44
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And you are off! . I especially appreciate all the pics and details of the TGV; we are hoping for a combined Paris/London trip in 2015 and these are great snippets of info for me. I am a bit transportation-phobic but two hours should be fairly easy to manage....I just won't drink much and plan not to use the restroom!!!

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Old 12-08-2013, 10:12 AM   #45
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And you are off! . I especially appreciate all the pics and details of the TGV; we are hoping for a combined Paris/London trip in 2015 and these are great snippets of info for me. I am a bit transportation-phobic but two hours should be fairly easy to manage....I just won't drink much and plan not to use the restroom!!!
Something else you'll need to know then is that Eurostar only release their prices about four months ahead, which is tough for planning. I'd have a look at prices for the same time in 2014 as the year goes on, just to get an idea of what you're looking for, but Eurostar is definitely the way to go as far as getting between London and Paris goes....
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