I spent a summer in Europe “backpacking” around and one of the things I did was take the Eurostar from London to Paris. Everyone told me it was so nice and so great that the two cities were now so closely connected! While I do like getting to some places quickly, transportation is part of the travel experience for me. Anything different and slower is okay with me in most situations. While I was in London, I took a train to Dover and then the boat to Calais and it was lovely! I came back to London the same day, sad that my passport wasn’t stamped with a France stamp. Everyone in my family went to France 5 years before and now I had finally made it! Anyway, later, when I was actually going to France to like see stuff (there isn’t much to see in Calais) I decided to take the train because everyone raved about it. I guess I ended up on the two worst days ever for the Eurostar via the chunnel, because I will say NEVER AGAIN!
From London to Paris, everything started out fine, but then for some reason, we arrive in Paris and sat on the tracks for about 2 hours before we finally could disembark. No idea why, we just sat. So freakin’ annoying. Then I wait in the taxi line and when I get to the front the driver starts screaming at me in French and while I don’t speak a lick of it, I am pretty sure he was telling me that my hotel was very close and he didn’t want to take me that close. I knew my place was close, but as I was in a city I had never been to nor spoke the language and it was well after 10pm, I wanted to take a cab. I asked some random cabbie and they quoted a price that I knew was at least twice as much as it should have cost so I said no and stormed off. I figure out which street my hotel is on and just walk with focus and determination. Some guy got my attention as I was walking and was speaking English, so for some reason I stopped. He starts to give me some sob story and wants money. I immediately walk quickly off and he yells after me, are you Jewish? That freaked me out (because I am) and I couldn’t find my place soon enough. I got very very lucky and found my small hotel after a 10 minute walk and crashed out. Moral of the story? I don’t know, I got very very lucky.
Now it’s like 4 weeks later and I am headed back to London. It is the hottest days on record and the train station is deathly hot, as nothing is air conditioned. Trains are running about 4 hours late. I am nearly out of Euros and really don’t want to take any more out of the ATM and some food stand gives me a water even though I am like 10cents short. But the wait is forever until my train is called. Everything is such a nightmare, that they are barely checking tickets and none of the seats are assigned, you just sit as you load. And I had worked so hard to get a window seat! I don’t remember if I got one or not. I just remember waiting for hours and being so thankful to be back in the cool breeze of London. Luckily, I knew the neighborhood where I was staying and while it was kind of a shady place, everything ended up okay.
Moral of the story: Take recommendations with a grain of salt. If I had to do it again, I would have just taken trains and the boat. So much more exotic.