One of the things about going from London to Paris is the actual journey through the Chunnel. One would think, it would be much faster to fly from London to Paris and those ‘ones’ would be correct… it is faster, but why would I fly when I have little money and travelling through the Chunnel is something that one should do, if just for the sake of saying you travelled through a technological marvel of the 20th Centure. I had seen a couple documentaries about the making of the “Chunnel” and of course when you think about all those people who had taken the swim in the English Channel, you wonder about the state and sanity of the human mind.
Well according to the brochures : ” Getting from London to Paris has never been easier. The high speed Eurostar train takes visitors between the two European cities in just 2 hours and 35 minutes. Going underneath the Chunnel, the tunnel below the English Channel, is a comfortable, economical and ecological way to travel.” Of course, no one has spoken about the cost of the goddamn EuroStar but it cost me the equivalent of 185$ Canadian, which is fricking expensive. I asked a couple people about this and they remarked, “Oh it’s worth the extra money to take the Chunnel!” or “Now, you get to mark off something on your list”.
In the end, I thought about it and these were the reasons I came up with taking the Chunnel:
- It only takes 2 hours 15 minutes to get from central London to central Paris.
- There are no airports
- You can walk to Waterloo and walk out of Gare Du Nord and get directly to a hotel.
- No extra fares to get to the airport (Heathrow or Gatwick) and no extra fare getting from Charles De Gaulle to downtown Paris
- The overall speed of getting from Central London to Central Paris is actually much faster than taking a flight
- Did I mention no airports and checking in, at least 2 hours before in Europe.
- No fuel surcharges
As for the overall travel experience of travelling the Chunnel, these were some of my observations: The train is very fast (sometimes you feel the speed and sometimes not) and very modern. They serve sandwiches and drinks and pastries onboard, so you can have your breakfast between both countrues. You can pay in either pounds or Euros, but they don’t take Canadian or make change on board.
It’s lovely looking out the window and seeing the countryside in Kent and Northern France. Of course, you don’t see much when you are in the underwater portion of the trip, but it’s quite pleasant, although towards the deepest part of the journey, you do feel a pressure difference and the air does smell different. Like travelling on the seashore, its a bit musty and a bit salty. The time under water is only about 20 minutes, anyway.
They make all the announcements over the loud speaker in English and French. When you are in England, they make the announcement first in English and second in French, and then they switch and do it the other way around when you get to France. I always find that transition rather exciting, as it’s immediately obvious when you cross national lines. Of course, you experience many of the same things you would at an airport. The luggage is scanned, and when you get to the second country, your passport is stamped. But it is all pretty efficient.
The actual logistics of getting to Victoria Station and then finding the office was pretty straight forward:
I found the public washrooms funny but highly efficient though… you could travel, take a shower and move on.