Sunday, August 22, 2010

21 August 2010 last day in Paris & return trip to London

Big Brother on TV

Pantene 5€ at the Saturday markets outside the hotel

Market produce

King Prawns 12€ kilo

Hair Colour 5€

Lovely tomatoes on the vine



Dress material for sale at the market

Kit Kat 6 for 2€

French RER (Regional Express Network)

On the Train

Chatelet les Halles RER station

Hire a bike

Gare du Nord station Paris

7 Red roses for 5€ at the Gare du Nord Paris railway station

The French countryside with Simpsons clouds!

Stop at Calais

Today we awoke to another fine and sunny Parisian day.

The forecast was for a temperature of 30c and we were booked on the 3.07pm Eurostar out of the Gare du Nord station in Paris. We decided to relax today as we had had a busy time whilst here and we wanted to be at the station in plenty of time to catch the train. Seats are allocated on the Eurostar by coach and seat number.

We found that we didn't need to check out of the hotel until noon so we visited a Saturday market which had magically appeared outside the hotel.

We then rested in our hotel room and caught up on the news of the Australian election which forecasters said would be a close run thing. There was quite a bit of coverage on it on the English language BBC TV News channel and lots of mention that Abbot is known as "The Mad Monk"!

As I mentioned previously we had 26 channels on the TV at the hotel but only one was in English. Many of the programs shown on the other channels are on Australian (and UK) TV but are in French. It's amusing watching the actors speaking French and their mouths appear to be synced with French but their lips don't move a lot so it's difficult to tell whether the actors themselves recorded French dialogue or it has been dubbed in by someone else.

We booked out of the hotel at 11.30am and crossed the road to the railway station to find that our 3 day rail tickets didn't work. Mick had organised 3 day transport passes so we didn't have to buy tickets at all and up until this point it had worked wonderfully. We had been able to go anywhere on the public transport system using these little tickets.

We had assumed that the 3 day passes started at the time of first use but it turned out that it is done by day not time and we had used them on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Undeterred we went to the ticket machine (labeled Billet) which is the French for ticket and the writing on the screen, of course. was in French. However, there was a row of flags across the top of the screen and by touching the UK flag the display turned to English.

We got our tickets for 2.70€ which we thought was quite reasonable and we were off to the city changing trains once before arriving at the Eurostar station in Paris (Gare du Nord) with 2 hours to spare.

After a coffee we went out of the station to have a look around. Lyn took some persuading to leave the station as she didn't want to miss the train after all it was leaving in 90 minutes!

We walked up and down the streets and there were different tourist buses buzzing about so Mick complained that we had missed something. Unfortunately you can only scratch the surface here in 2 days.

Mick was fascinated by all the bike racks around Paris where you can hire a bike quite cheaply by credit card and then lock it into a different port elsewhere. The first half hour was free and it was 1€ for an hour.

After taking a few photos we headed back into the station to check-in.

There was a French check-out and a UK check-in one after the other and the UK check-in people asked us lots of questions for some reason. All passengers and luggage had to pass through airport style scanners.

After that was over we went into the departure lounge to await boarding.

At exactly the displayed time of 1447, the gates opened and we boarded the train which left exactly on time at 1507. All very well organised.

It was then about 80 minutes travel time to the tunnel entrance on the French side, this time stopping briefly at Calais to pick and set down a few people.

It was then on to London with 20 minutes in the tunnel and a further 55 minutes to St Pancras station. On the outbound trip to Paris the train stopped briefly at Ashford on the UK side to pick up further passengers.

After disembarking from the Eurostar area there were 2 or 3 groups of Police and/or customs people randomly selecting passengers for questioning but we were not stopped.

We then walked up a few stairs and a very short distance to the Kings Cross/St Pancras underground station where we caught the tube to London Bridge to link up with the above ground rail service to Plumstead which was just up an escalator.

When we arrived at the platform, the train had just arrived and left within seconds of us getting on. All very smooth and simple. No waiting at all.

We rang Zara from the train and she met us at the Plumstead bus stop to walk us home (about 100 metres) which was nice.

Pizza for tea tonight from the guys around the corner who always throw in a can of Coke for free and we get 2 pizzas for the price of one.

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