Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Tunnel

We have crossed the English Channel twice for the first time.
No. Not true. The first crossing was the first time, the second crossing was not.

We took the bus to England just to experience the crossing. I wanted it.
I got it. (It was my birthday trip after all.)

In Calais, everybody got off the bus with all luggage to pass the French customs, and then reboarding.
Three hundred meters further up, everybody got off the bus, without luggage, to pass UK customs. Then we waited until everybody got through, I think they all did, and then we waited again.
The next train eventually opened to allow the buses on. Almost all bus drivers did it skilfully.
It was highly amusing.

We were allowed off the bus during the odd thirty minutes it took to get us under the water. I had my nose to the small windows to see as much of the above ground travels as possible.
After that there really was not anything to do during the crossing (beyond going to a non-moving toilet) or anywhere to go (other than to the said toilets).

Driving out of the tunnel, off the train and up along the white cliffs of Dover (close to) was amazing. A proper experience! Beautiful! Worth the entire trip.
We were dropped off in Dover harbour and left to roam.

Returning, we were booked on the Eurostar from Ashford international. The train would take us across the channel in half an hour. Not. That was a disaster. Never repeat.
The train did not stop, we were rerouted to London St Pancras to take the next train, and last train of the day. Consequently we missed our connection on the other side and were lodged into a hotel for the night to take the first train the following morning. Juuuuust in time to sneak past before a French train strike started. Juuuuust very happy to have left the island.

Silver linings (there are always some): excellent customer service was provided in the middle of the night in a country where I used to live, in a train station I know every corner off, and in a language I understand. My collected knowledge from twenty years of business travel kicked in and the situation was handled swiftly. The man just tagged along, trying to stay unworried. We rate U.K./French Eurostar operation as highly unreliable and not possible to recommend.

The channel crossing went past almost entirely unnoticed. Not worth the money; any money.

We got home.

4 comments:

  1. Happy birthday and glad you made it back home!

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  2. I can't believe you're a year older. You don't look it! Even though you say not to do it I would still like to try someday, just to say I have done it. The man is lucky to have you along. The last time I traveled was with a dear friend who does a lot of international travel for her work. It was comforting to have her along.

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    Replies
    1. Would that be Heidi? ;)
      I love trains so the Eurostar is a must - even if it wasn't much of an experience. The bus/car train was much better!

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