The Anonymous Widower

Cambridge to Nice by Train

I was dropped at Cambridge early, as since my stroke I get almost paranoid about missing anything.  It’s probably that I’m insecure.  But then I always was a bit!  I’m just moreso now.  But I really had no worries as my credit card and the reference number from Eurostar got the tickets issues without any fuss.

The outcome was that I got the 7:15 out of Cambridge instead of the 7:45 and sat comfortably in First Class.  I should say that the extra two single tickets from Kings Cross to Cambridge cost me just £15 for the pair.  And as I’m travelling First all the way to Nice, I get First to London.  First Capital Connect are not always praised for their service and punctuality, but I had no problems and arrived in London on time.

But of course it was into the main station at Kings Cross, rather than the old surburban one which is just a short walk from St. Pancras International.

Kings Cross Station

As I knew I had a fully flexible ticket, was thirty minutes early and I had to pick my tickets up from the station, I decided to see if I could catch an earlier train.  It’s the paranoia again, as I was rather worried that I might miss the connection in Paris, so a few extra minutes might be welcome.

Let’s say the flexible ticket worked and instead of being on the 9:32, I was on the 8:55.  But I was told there might be a problem with my gluten-free meal, so would I mention it at the gate.  I think the paranoia ruled the stomach and I preferred to be early and hungry, rather than full and late.  It was just as well.

The guy on the gate made a note and said that he’d try to get it sorted.

He did and the first thing the steward said when I boarded was that they had the gluten-free breakfast.

That in itself felt that at least someone was looking after me!

The trip was uneventful and I tried yet again to take a picture of the Dartford Bridge from the train.  At least this time I was ready for it, not like when I took the journey a couple of months ago on a Javelin.

Dartford Bridge from Eurostar

The only other new feature of note on the English side of the Channel is the station at Stratford.  For my liking it is too stark and nothing but concrete at the moment.  Surely not something for the entrance point to the London 2012 Olympics.  But then, I suspect it hasn’t been properly finished and a good bit of colour helps most things.

On the other side of the Channel the train rolled along as it should across the flat open countryside of Northern France.

Flat France

You can understand why they didn’t have much trouble building this high speed line, as except for Lille, it missed out all the towns and villages.  But then France has a lot more space than we do.

Gare du Nord, Paris

I arrived on time into Gare du Nord or Gare Nord, as they call it now, and had ninety minutes or get to the Gare de Lyon.  I had been intending to take a taxi, but as I had the extra time I took the RER D from under the station.

It was a wise choice.

A young lad about eighteen or so was by the ticket machines, dressed in a vest which said that he was there to help.  He showed me how to use the machines and told me that I needed track 44.  Paris is certainly trying to make sure that they welcome visitors!  But then tourism is a cut-throat business these days and personal service is something that always works.

Paris RER

Note the double deck!  Will Crossrail be that way?  I doubt it.

Gare de Lyon, Paris

But then I had an hour to spend in the Gare de Lyon.

Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon, Paris

Le Train Bleu Restaurant, that evokes pre-war travel and glamour, is still there, although it does have an Express version as well.  Perhaps, we don’t have as much time as we used to.

The station is being upgraded and probably not before time, as such as St. Pancras, Milan, Berlin and even dear old Liverpool Street show that a good station creates the right experience.

The train left on time for the long haul to Nice.  To say it is a large train would be an understatement.  It is two TGV Duplex or double-deck units coupled together.  Short of a boat, it must be one of the largest people carriers around. According to Wikipedia each set carries 545 people.

You do wonder about trains though!

A friend is joining me at Nice for a few days and they have just phoned me from Lyon.  Their plane has diverted there because is on the ground there because of mist at Nice!  Do I hear herds of thundering tortoises?

Now I’m the tortoise, as the train threads its slow way through Toulon and all stations to Nice.  Not the best.

Neither was the snack I got.  Despite asking several times in my worst French, I ended up with a fish thing clearly labelled gluten.  So I picked out a few bits of fish and potatoes and left the rest.  I hope I’m OK.  Why didn’t the silly woman show me the packet and I could have read it?

We’re barely walking pace at the moment and my friend has just arrived in Nice. Perhaps this train is always late, as it was the last time I caught it.  That was between Antibes and Nice in 2007 on one of the last holidays with my late wife.  It seemed strange to use it as a local train then, but everybody does.

Still the countryside is all green and it’s sunny.

TGV Duplex Arrives at Nice

Finally we arrived in Nice about a quarter of an hour late.

And then I got ripped off by the taxi driver.

Who cares?  There are worse things in life!  But it’s probably why I avoid them like the plague.

March 27, 2010 - Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,


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