The Great Excursion of 2010 all started at
which is a horrific time by any standards. Nothing good has ever happened at seven o'clock in the morning. The sheer hell of this exposure to cold, hard reality was somewhat mitigated by Jane who announced the end of my sleeping comfort with a compensatory
which was nice, but was barely enough to get the ole' reactor spooled up and my exhausted hulk out into the cold
light dark of day night.
Several things must have then happened, I must have got dressed for a start, there may have been more tea, I am not certain because of the
thing. Whatever did happen, by the time I actually woke up we were both outside and setting off on foot for the first stage of our journey. It was at this point in time I realised that my plan of having breakfast (a nice cheesy sarnie and a bottle of real Coke) was going to be scuppered by the fact that it was so early in the morning that the shop had wisely decided not to open as, presumably, there are very few people insane enough to require their victuals in the
morning middle of the night.
Having overcome several obstacles, we managed to arrive at the station, ready to catch our train, which, I discovered was
about to depart not due to leave for another half hour. With time on my hands to ponder the injustices of the very early morning, I noticed that the station had employed anti-pigeon spikes on every flat surface. I say noticed, I've known this for years, but this was the first time I really noticed just how much better everything looks when not covered in pigeon shit.
Absolutely beautious in comparison, no?
Still 'n' all, after some time spent doing very little we boarded the train!
This wasn't the train, but it IS very similar to the train, being a train 'n' all.
I managed to sleep through the first trip up to East Croydon except for one brief period when Jane excitedly informed me we'd arrived and we raced to fetch our bags before the train moved on, only to discover that the missus had mistaken moving through Gatwick as stopping at Croydon. It was still early morning though, so we'll chalk that up to fatigue.
It was at this point that I realised there was a weird, eerie sucking sound coming from the blonde sitting in the seats in front of us. By weird I mean REALLY weird, like,
But also I remind myself that trains sound awesomely cool sometimes, with these sci-fi motor sounds and clunking vibrating funky things.
There was an uneventful ride through the tube during which I was compelled to observe how ridiculous teenagers look when wearing suits. They do NOT look business-like and mature, they look like sections of cacti.
After some faffing around with customs, we're in the luxurious departure lounge
to wait for a whole hour to board the train, because terrorists simply can't wait, they have no patience at all and if forced to wait for an hour, they'll explode out of sheer frustration. They'd still kill a lot of people, but at least the train would be in one piece, and that's the main thing, it is certainly worth delaying sixteen million people every year at a cost of around 112 million pounds to save the cost of a train carriage, which must, obviously, cost more.
I spot a group of Royal Air Force Cadets (because they're in uniform, see?) several of whom are sporting pony-tails. I'm all for long hair on chaps but can't help but wonder if this is symptomatic of a general decline in the military.
So, feeling grumpy and fed on day old pizza (which is perfectly good and as it had been Jane's dinner the previous evening(the rest of it obviously) both thoughtful and welcome), I decide to approach the problem with my usual decisiveness.
But soon enough we're on the Eurostar, and one thing is immediately apparent.
They didn't have Wookiees in mind when they built these things.
I've just been in three trains with no children at all on board, and THAT is always worth it, because children on trains are
evil and wrong monsters.
Not so lucky on the Eurostar, but I did find myself tremendously amused that the sole child on board, apparently about six years old and French, in a very serious and stern tone of voice instructed her loud and annoying mother thusly...
"Silence, s'il vous plait, maman."
I nearly exploded trying to keep the giggles in for that.
At some point I notice Jane is reading a Guardian article that could be summarised as "Falling out of an aircraft is not fun." I feel tremendously
irritated blessed to have learned this.
I am now forced to wonder why there are always AHGs on trains. I mean always, every time. There are fifty six seats on this carriage and yet there are four AHGs. Statistically speaking there should be twenty nine females on board, with four of them within the age range to qualify as an HG, let alone an AHG, and yet that is the same number as the amount of AHGage. Strange.
I also notice that in a fit of bizarre bizarreyness that Alstom built the 373 class with mild perving in mind as the luggage racks are made of perspex and offer an almost perfect view (via reflection) straight down the front of the person sitting immediately in front of you, which would be a positive bonus if you happened to be seated behind an AHG. I wasn't though, so I did more sleeping.
I think we need another picture.
It has SFA to do with Paris, but you know, breaks things up a bit.
We are informed that our voyage into the unknown will be guided by Jeff the driver, Alan the co-driver and Anna and Gavin our train managers. Train MANAGERS. I try not to laugh too hard but really, this is a train, not an aircraft, and yet they are treating it as exactly the same thing.
We start to move and pretty soon I find myself thinking this is brilliant, because this train moves like a train. What I mean by that is that it's going one hundred and eighty miles an hour less than three minutes after departure. Every other train I have been on in the last ten years has moved at around forty miles an hour because English trains have become
shit distinctly sub-par.
The above image is entirely irrelevant. Right, so, then we're in the tunnel, with such sights as to boggle the mind!
So, I slept through that even though I was on a bloody train under the water! How cool is that? Well, OK, old news I guess, but still.
So, then we arrive in Paris, city of Parisians! The trip to the hotel is free of much in the way of adventure, and in what seems like a few short minutes, Jane gets to attempt suicide
and then without pausing for breath performs the most
pointless critical task of the entire holiday and
unpacks the washbags and reorganises the bathroom. With this done, we venture out into the world of Paris! My favourite city in the world, unless it's Vegas, or Los Angeles, or New York or Prague, but in any case, it's definitely one of my favourites.
So, we're off, Jane leading the way with her almost completely indefatigable enthusiasm, setting course for Les Jardins De La Palais De Luxembourg, which is kinda like this...
Which is to say very groovy. It was a touch grey that day, so trust me, find proper pictures online somewhere if you're interested.
Anyway, here I am on the wall thingy.
And here's Jane!
So, yeah, that was pretty cool.
Then we had a beer and I died.
So we went for a stroll to the Pont Neuf to revive. We have a cool photo of this bridge in the living room, so we took this one
which isn't as good but, dammit, we took it! Then I noticed the strange group below.
Yeah. Strange. Spot it yet?
The French are strange. Or egotistical. Or arty. I know that's a thingy for filming yourself much like
our Lord and Master but the arm's a work of art, I mean some love went into it. Anyhoo.
I like Parisian architecture. It's just pretty.
I particularly enjoy the frequency with which one runs into amazing buildings that one has no idea of what they are, they're just kinda random amazing buildings. We did look this one up,
prizes mehs to people who can identify it. We found the Money Mint too but forgot to photographerise it.
So we pottered around a lot and had some booze and things and it seemed to me that the Parisians are a short and slender people, almost certainly because they simply cannot afford food or alcohol in any way shape or form. Plus, they almost all dress fantastically. I mean talk about taste!
Well, actually they don't have better taste than anyone else. Worse, possibly, but the thing is they keep trying to look flash and chic, even if they fail. You'd never see a Parisian single mother waddling down the street in her faded neon pink polyester sports slacks that are so threadbare you can make out the branding of her immense pants that you hope were meant to be black from the start and haven't evolved to that state over time. They'd die first. Comfortable? Maybe, but you look like a tuesday, lets be frank.
Yeah, this is true.
Soon we have a bite to eat, in my case Soupe de Poisson then Medalions de Agneau, which turn out to be very small bits of lamb with some middling but astonishingly hot mashed potato and horse chestnuts. Frankly, awesome. Jane had the same starter and a duck and
foie gras ethically valid pate salad, which also looked awesome. Awesome all round in fact. I know I know, some of you are squeaking about the poor little geese, and I kinda sympathise, except for the undeniable fact that geese are bastards.
Well, birds at least, and whilst I'm all for treating them well, they are just birds. Big, yummy birds.
Very yummy birds.
So, that was the end of day one, more or less, except for a couple of beers to end of the wee small hours.
On to Day Two!