Europe. Walls and trains and Paris
Published 07-20-2009 on my old wordpress blog.

This morning I slept in the basement room of the cottage (since the other guests left). It was cold and dark and was used as a brothel in a film, apparently. I quite liked it. However, I was sorely getting tired of the lackadaisical nature of the English countryside and my female companions at the cottage. So, as they went for a walk, I wrestled with the Internet demons and got myself a train ticket and an expensive hostel in Paris for the next two days. Yes!

We took a couple hours to eat breakfast and decided to go to the small town of Walls before they took me to the train station. By the way, I should reiterate how grateful I am for the British romance novelist’s hospitality. It was truly appreciated, despite any minor annoyances I may be exhibiting.

Walls was a quaint village with a spectacular abbey/castle/cathedral/what-not. British romance novelist called it the most important cathedral in England. It was pretty fantastic, alright. Plus, the castle behind it had a moat and an amazing croquet green! We walked around a bit and after some clarification of when I needed to be where, we split town and went back to pick up my camera battery which I almost forgot. Our host graciously took me to the train station, where I started my travel day.

First step: train back to London. Easy peasy. Had my return ticket already, but never really needed to show it to anyone. Silly English.

Got to the lovely Paddington station and walked from the dirtiest and darkest bit to the light and airy part. Walked straight to the tube station like I’d been there before (I have!) and looked for the nice ticket counter or ticket machine. Found one, but it wouldn’t take my American card. Switched to the cash one but it was super vague as to which ticket I should buy. Gathered as much info as I could and made my best guess. Adventure!

It got me in the tube where I discovered I had randomly picked the right train! Success #1! Then on the train, I learned my zone 1 ticket was the right one! Yesssssss!

I made it to St. Pancras station for train adventure #3, Eurostar to Paris. I bought a mess of grapes with my last £2 and proceeded to wait for the train. It felt a lot like an airport, so I just went on those assumptions and checked in an hour early, seeing nothing to indicate otherwise. Turns out, the goal is to check in as close to boarding time as possible. Well, I sat by myself on the train for about 20 minutes at the advice of the staff an hopes that the seat next to me would be occupied by some indie rock goddess that would show me her town tomorrow. Unfortunately, I seem to have lucked out and got a partner that had the swine flu and didn’t understand basic hygiene. According to the tabloids, I’ll be dead tomorrow. If so, it’s been a good trip. My will is on the desk in a notebook somewhere.

The train trip itself was rather boring, actually. The Chunnel was anticlimatic. I didn’t know we were in it until we weren’t anymore! They started doing the announcements in French first and then in English, that’s how I knew for sure. Then an hour and a half after that, I was in Paris!

Time advanced another hour on the way here, so I arrived in the city at about 11:30 PM. It’s so weird, everyone speaks French! I started walking the 1.4 km to my hostel adventure, The Peace and Love Hostel. It was a pretty easy walk, actually. I saved the directions in my phone and used them to get here. I like staying in hostels with bars in the basement, apparently. I guess they stay open later… At any rate, after some minor confusion checking in and a notice that they don’t take credit, everything is all set. However, apparently I’m sharing my room with a couple on their honeymoon. I’ve been told I should probably give them 30 minutes or so. The barkeeper and I agreed that they should have gotten a private room. I smell pretty bad, maybe I won’t take a shower before I head up. I guess this will make it easier to pick out a bed…

So now I’m hanging out listening to that Prodigy song, Firestarter, that was popular ten years ago listening to the Americans get belligerent. Maybe I’ll just give the honeymooners ten minutes.

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Keywords: europe, paris, trains, travel

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