29 May, 2013

London to Paris (18 May)

Our travel from Stadford Upon Avon to London to Paris was a Journey to Ernie - but full of little surprises.

We started out on Saturday morning in our rental car driving it back to the airport inat Birmingham. From Birmingham we walked from the rental place to the trains at the airport. We hopped on the train to ride into Eustace Station. From there we need to walked about 15 minutes over to St. Pancreas/ Kings Cross Station.

The kids were happy to be back at Kings Cross. They had been waiting to get a special wand-slash-pen that was only at the Harry Potter Giftstore at Platform 9 3/4. Wands in hand we continued onto St. Pancreas Station. Wondering around we found a small grocery store and (with Courtney's good foresight) picked up noodles, red sauce and green beans for dinner. 

After some more wandering we discovered the EuroStar area. After passing through security and getting our passports stamped for France, we waited in the "Lounge" until time to board our train. Finally it was time to board! 

Courtney, the girls and Chayton all sat together and I was right across the aisle from them. After a bit of seat changing around I met my two seat companions. Kaija and I went to the dining area and got her one of the best tasting cups of hot chocolate that I have tasted, plus a coffee for Courtney and I. When I returned to my seat, the two ladies had started up a conversation which I soon joined in.

One lady (Freya) was from London but was a diplomat's daughter and spoke French, Arabic and was learning Spanish. Aiche was from France but living in London with her husband who she met will teaching in Ghana (her profession is a French teacher). Very interesting ladies and I had a nice time sitting with them - it made the trip seem very fast. Before we knew it we were through the Chunnel and out the other side in France, which was a little sunnier then what we left in England.

Boy, reading signs in French (without knowing French) is a little challenging. Again we wondered around the train station trying to figure which way to go and where to find an ATM.  After I spoke with a a couple of French soldiers, Courtney and Kaija went outside the station to the ATM and bought our Metro tickets. Once again we were off. But soon got stuck in the barriers to get into the Metro...  

It seems some of the doors /turnstiles do not like luggage trailing behind you. After Courtney and Kaija got stuck, Chayton eyed the area where you could slide your luggage through (there wasn't a manned information station that we could ask to get a handicap door opened). It was a lot easier after that! Although we did run into another type of exit that had a turnstile and a door that Chayton got stuck in. Seems he's a little too light for their weight sensors to pick up. It took a while after that for Nazeriah to feel safe about us walking through the turnstiles!

Luckily, the Metro is as easy, if not easier, then the Tube in London. We made it to our stop very easily. It took us a little longer to find our Hostel. Which ranks up their with one of our least favorite ones so far. But it had beds, blankets and a kitchen. We were just staying here for one night and heading to our apartment the next day.  

It was late so we cooked dinner and went to bed (each in our own single bunk bed).