The last time I was in France, the heavens opened up and I was straining my eyes to see ahead of the car through the teaming rain. This time, it seemed, I was in for more of the same. Except, of course, we were in a train which was travelling so fast that the rain drops didn’t touch it.
We had a pretty easy morning, watching the last vestiges of Beatrice and Eugenie’s self esteem being whittled away by the news gathering masses – actually, to be fair, the BBC didn’t say anything about their atrocious choice of wedding outfits, preferring to rave about the more human choices from the ranks of guests. I am not as nice. They clearly have no mirrors at home.
We eventually ordered a cab to take us to St Pancras where we joined the hordes of French people returning to the Continent after the wedding. Actually that is a huge assumption based on the fact that there were a lot of French people at the station.
Speaking of which, our carriage was full (well, half full) of teenage French schoolies. I was a bit concerned that they would be overly generous with their jollity but they were actually very well behaved. The group of four just across the aisle from us were doing some sort of test – they had a page of English from which they were answering questions in French. They had completed the page by the time we arrived in Paris.
Sitting opposite us was a gopher and a bald chap of very little language. I wonder how it would be to have permanently displayed teeth. Surely they’d get all dry and the inside of your lip would stick to them. I tried it for a bit. I didn’t like it. Anyway, the gopher was Australian and her travelling companion was a bit sub-human. I say that because he was only able to talk in grunts and the occasional click of his phone camera.
We have tried to work out their relationship. The best we can come up with is travelling companions off to meet a mutual friend. Or maybe she’s not very good at chatting guys up. We’ll never know and, to be honest, I really don’t care.
We arrived at Paris Nord dead on time with the sun streaming down and the sky blue as blue can be. Our carriage was about three miles down the platform so it took a while to leave the station and begin the hike to Paris Est. It was during this hike that the heavens, clearly in a fit of pique at having missed me at the border, opened up and giant raindrops fell upon us as we walked, watching our bright shadows caused by the brilliant sunshine that also fell upon our heads. It was all a bit weird and, for me, an indication of its supernatural origin.
We found Paris Est easily enough and stood watching the indicator board for trains to Zurich. We had a 40 minute wait which was taken up by looking for a loo and aimless wandering, sometimes both at the same time.
Mirinda has decided she’s just following me around this trip, wanting nothing to do with any decision making or worry about travel. This explains why she waited until we were on the train to tell me she wasn’t sure we were on the correct one. The seats we grabbed were so good, I wasn’t moving, wherever the train was going.
The Zurich train was leaving from platform 2 and Mirinda thought we were on platform 1 – little did she know that platform 1 is like the Hogwarts platform at Kings Cross – but fortunately I had all well in hand and we sat down, right near the bar with single seats opposite each other and a table between. Fantastic for a long trip, which, at 5 and a half hours, this was.
We left on time from Paris, racing across the French countryside at high speed (the TGV trains are fantastic) heading for Switzerland. The X-Files theme playing every time there’s a train announcement is a bit off-putting, particularly when Mirinda keeps insisting it’s actually the beginning of Love and Marriage.
Dinner was lamb sausages in cheesy mash potatoes except they’d slipped a bit with the cheese so it was potatoey mashed cheese. Very naughty when we could have had salad. Had a can of Pelforth even though the barman tried to sell me a ghastly Heineken which we all know is the only beer available at the London Olympics. Not that I’m obsessed or anything. And, for dessert, a packet of Bretzels. That’s not a misprint. They were Bretzels as evidenced by the packet.
They tasted remarkably like pretzels, I have to say.
We went through an enormous thunderstorm but arrived safely in Strasbourg. We sat at the platform for a little bit before heading south until we reached Basel, Switzerland, Nicktor’s second home.
And finally, Zurich at 11pm. Exactly 11pm. Typically Swiss. We left the train and walked the ten minutes to the hotel and checked in. The receptionist kindly informed me that we had been upgraded to a superior room (I have no idea why but I wasn’t about to ask just in case she changed her mind).
The room was excellent. There was even a coffee machine. Not a kettle but a proper espresso machine. Just the kind I want. And the coffee was excellent. Just like the room. This little box of pleasure was waiting for us with a note telling us to enjoy our stay.