Friday, November 9, 2007

Fields, Dreams and 2.5 Hours to Montmartre

I've mentioned before how much I love old fashioned train travel. This is fortunate thanks to the rapid disintegration of any form of air travel touching down on any airport in the UK. I’m writing this from Paris where I made a mistake yesterday of traveling by air on Air France from Manchester. My bag is, of course, still in Manchester 24 hours later, courtesy of Manchester Airport and Air France.

I’m a regular traveler on the Eurostar and now use it exclusively between London and Paris. The new St. Pancras station opens next month and high speed trains now whisk you between these two great cities in less than 2.5 hours. That’s about the same time it takes to get through check-in, security and passport control at Heathrow! Once you are on the Eurostar the experience is tremendous. Comfortable, fully operative and very social. In fact, it feels like travel used to be.

I also now use the train to travel from London to my place in Grasmere in the Lakes. It stops at some wonderfully named places, including blasts from the past such as Wigan, Warrington, Crewe and Preston - don’t ask me why. The journey itself is not as reliable as Eurostar but it’s a lovely reminder of how beautiful the English countryside can be. If you are lucky enough to get on the train between 8:00 and 10:00am, the full cooked English breakfast is still a ritual not to be missed.

Train travel is a great way to reconnect with the countryside, meet some people and get a load of work or reading done with zero hassle. One thing to watch though; there is zero security on domestic train travel, which you can put down as a vital missing link.