Friday, September 18, 2009

Paris/London, Day 15: Traveling home

While we were pretty much traveling all day, this day is still worth a post for some fun pictures and stories.

We woke extremely early and clunked down the stairs with our luggage. You might remember me mentioning that we were situated on the third and fourth floors of the hotel, so this was quite a production.

We had to get to our train by 6 a.m., so that meant that we had to get to the station by 5:30 a.m., and the M
étro only starts running at 5 a.m. Clearly it was going to be a bit stressful. We walked to the Châtelet station, which had both Métro and RER lines directly to the Gare du Nord, our train station.

Unfortunately, the station is listed in Let's Go as a particularly dangerous one at night, but we weren't sure whether 5 a.m. counted as night or morning, so we figured we were OK. It was a strange time of day, though. There were definitely some characters around, and we saw some rats scampering around on the tracks.

We got to Gare du Nord on time and had no problem getting through the passport and security lines, which were pretty long when we arrived. Fortunately we were able to find space for our luggage more easily than last time, when the train was already full. We were the first to arrive in our car, and we settled in for the journey under the English Channel.

Sunrise on the Chunnel

Luckily we had packed our breakfast: delicious fruit from La Grande Epicierie de Paris and apple tarts from Poilâne. Oh Ina, you never fail me.

We got to London without incident, and we played another few games of cards along the way. I don't remember who won "31," but I do remember that I was in the lead for Hearts until Rob slipped me the queen. Dirty tricks! (We continued the game on the plane, and I believe Diane lost, having tried unsuccessfully to shoot the moon several times.)

Once we arrived in London, there was no time for further sightseeing - we walked right from St. Pancras Station into the Tube, where we recharged our cards, took the line out to Heathrow, then turned in the Oyster cards for our deposits. I was a little bummed that we didn't get to keep them as souvenirs, but oh well.

We watched movies on the plane and slept, and actually the food on the plane was pretty good. The ravioli that I got for lunch was one of the best airplane meals I've ever had!

Coming back over the Atlantic, we saw this lovely cloud formation, which Dave said reminded him of the large format Georgia O'Keeffe painting in the Art Institute.

On our way out of the plane, Diane and I couldn't resist taking this picture of the first class seats, which are basically large, reclining lazy boys that take up the space of about four economy class seats. Oh, to be rich.

Again, another day of absolutely incident-free travel, which is always welcome by us. We breezed through customs at O'Hare, called a cab, and said goodbye to our travel buddies, Diane and Rob, who were having Diane's mom pick them up from the airport.

What a great trip. Looking back through pictures and doing these blog posts has reminded me how wonderful it was, and what a great time we had. I wish I was back there again. Oh well - I'll have to make lots of delicious food to remind myself!

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