“Life is Sweet” — that’s the message under the cap of a mini-bottle of raspberry jam that I opened up to enjoy with some croissant on our journey from London to Paris aboard the Eurostar. I couldn’t have said it any better. We flew from Manila to London non-stop on Philippine Airlines, spent one night in London and headed to St. Pancras station the next morning to catch a train to Paris. Neither Mrs. MM nor I had ever taken this route before, so this was something new. A friend had counseled to book “Standard Premier” seats, not economy and not business, and they were very comfortable, with enough space for our luggage and coats.
St. Pancras station in London is quite spectacular, and boarding the Eurostar was extremely easy with minimal lines for baggage check and immigration.
The station itself, with its glass canopy, is a beautiful structure.
All sorts of stores and restaurants line the ground floor, along with this wonderful fresh Christmas tree, all decked out for the holidays.
Once on board, and on our 2 hour 10 minute ride to Paris, they served a light breakfast of croissant and multi-grain rolls, yoghurt, orange juice and tea or coffee. I was surprised they had a meal included, and wouldn’t have brought my station purchased “baon” ham & cheese sandwich if I had known! :) There are dining cars on board, of course, but it’s best to buy any drinks or snacks at the station to save a pound or two…
We headed through the suburbs of London and quickly to open fields, and Mrs. MM and I noticed that the views after crossing the tunnel (say 17+ minutes UNDER WATER) to France were far more pastoral and beautiful. Perhaps the part that the Eurostar crosses in England is just not representative of the rest of the wonderful English countryside.
On the way back from Paris, the lunch meal served was even better than the breakfast on the way over. Sea bream with a rice salad and curried cauliflower for me and some cheese and a wheat berry (I think) salad for Mrs. MM.
Lots of bread and the pudding (dessert) was pretty darned good.
Trust the French, who operate the trains, to have good eats. Though the Paris train station, Gare du Nord, wasn’t quite as nice as its London equivalent.
Of course the one caveat is the luggage — it’s only as much as you can reasonably manage. And you have to lift your stuff onto the train as well. We were good and packed just one medium sized suitcase with wheels on our way over (leaving another suitcase at our London hotel) to Paris, and we resisted the temptation to put food item after food item in our return luggage (not to mention the cooking equipment stores!!!), but of course like true Pinoy travelers we had a large empty duffel bag in the suitcase for the return trip. This is what I looked like with ALL of our luggage coming back from France.
Both legs of the journey left exactly on time and were extremely convenient for us. I suspect taking the train is also faster than a plane, considering the commute to the airport on both sides, immigration, etc. We would definitely do this again. But I need the name of the balikbayan box company in France so I can send home all the stuff I wanted to put in my luggage but didn’t this time around. :)
P.S. I plan to write these posts in chronological order, so you can see how the trip progresses, though of course I have edited out a few things along the way.