Saturday, May 08, 2004

Homeward bound

It's a shut-down holiday day, so not a lot to do after breakfast but pack and check out. At La Rochelle station by 10:00 - almost an hour to kick my heels - to see that, despite this being a TGV terminus, and regional hub, that the board signing departures is already showing tomorrow morning's first train, and a lot of the services during the day are coaches, and mine, the 10:52, is the next train (or indeed service of any kind). The morning is cool and bright. I'm there in a T-shirt, feeling fine (carrying all my other clothes on my back is warming enough), but this is enough to get me asked whether I'm cold.

On the train, I find I'm sitting next to the same chap as on the way out.

Half an hour out from Paris, I hear rain on the windows, but it barely leaves a smear, tiny droplets just skitter off the glass. At Montparnasse, it feels like I've done most of the journey by the time I get to the line 4 metro platform. The train is crowded, I have my big rucksack on my back and a small one in front, which is awkward enough - not helped by a group of Japanese tourists getting on and re-enacting a Tokyo rush-hour part way through the trip.

Arrive in enough time that I could have caught the earlier Eurostar, so there's more hanging around. Northern France is under grey drizzly rain. At Waterloo, at passport control, I get stuck behind some USan chap who thinks that resident status allows him to use the EU passport lane. Get a clue guys, you fought a war about that sort of thing about 230 years ago!

Underground is remarkably empty, especially by comparison with the Metro, and I arrive at King's Cross to see more trains signed in the next half hour than La Rochelle served all day. One of the political posters I saw in France was a protest against privatisation and similar with one slogan being "No to railways like British ones." Actually, I'd rather British frequent service than French once or twice a day like rural buses.

Train not too crowded, and the football types get off at Stevenage. And group of loud (pre-?)teen girls get on, giggling and squealing away at ear-piercing volume. They acted more like boys, but higher pitched.

Home, beer, crash.

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