London (and, sort of, Paris) - Saturday, September 2, 1995

After the early morning start, after about 5 hours of sleep, I caught the first subway to Waterloo station and from there picked up my tour to Paris. An altogether busy yet enjoyable (as usual here) day.

The trip in the morning was quite nice and I met a couple from Austin, Texas who I stuck with for most of the day, they are quite pleasant people and we talked a lot along the way to Paris. The train was quite well appointed (furnished), having large seats, altogether different from the commuter trains I am used to in Toronto thank goodness. Automatic sliding doors, facing seats with intervening table, and a lot of other neat features. After leaving Waterloo we were whisked to the coast travelling through a bit of English farm- land different from what I saw coming into the city from the northwest side.

The train is a fast one – they say it is the fastest in the world at 300 KM/HR or 180 miles/hour (or something like that), faster than, yes, even the bullet train in Japan. The train has been running less than a year and it is very nice inside (or did I already say that?). Did not see much of the white cliffs of Dover as we entered the tunnel on the other side of the cliffs (inland), the transition was abrupt after the countryside though we did receive a notice that we were entering the tunnel. The trip through the tunnel is 20 minutes and that passes very quickly, the ride is very smooth, and is actually very smooth for the whole trip, hard to even feel that you are on a train. The other side was much like England except, of course, the cars travelled on the right side of the road (with more meaning to that phrase than just one). We arrived in the North Station in Paris and caught a bus outside of the station for a some- what brief tour of Paris.


We were told that, after arriving at 11:15, we were to meet at 5:00 and we had this tour for a bit more than an hour. The tour really just ran us in the bus around the city pointing out the various sites with little, if any, historical commentary. Quite interesting to see the city, it is not as I expected, I was not quite aware of the amount of historical importance in the city, in terms of buildings and history itself. One of my favourite places to see was the Notre Dame Cathedral which I was hoping to visit but did not end up having enough time for. The normal views of the Eiffel tour and the Arc De Triumph were nice but I have seen that before. The other buildings, new to me, were much more interesting and the little titbits of history fascinating.


After we were dropped off at the Opera House (another favourite of mine) we were free to walk around so I took off to a restaurant this couple I was with had found in a guide book and we had a very pleasant lunch (a formal one) for the next hour and a half (during which I regrettably ordered a meal that was lamb with French fries, which I could swear was not written on the menu) we ate and then we proceeded to take a taxi (after a bit of work) to the Louvre (we also took a taxi to the restaurant, we could not be bothered to walk as the amount of time we had was limited).


I was only at the Louvre for about 45 minutes so I only had time to catch a peek at the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Milo (down a long hall view). I did pick up a guide to the Museum and I did also attempt to see a bit more of the various Victorian paintings around the Mona Lisa. The building itself is amazing, it certainly does match the collection it houses, an antique itself. I would really like to spend at least a day there in the future to take in the full experience, I think it would be worth it, actually, I would not mind a week trip to just Paris (as I would London for that matter) to explore the various cultural displays available.

After that, I just walked up to the Opera House and stopped by the Hard Rock Café for something for my sister (it is a habit I am now getting in to), I think she will like that, I thought that it would have been much nicer to pick up a new perfume for her or something but this only came to me on the train when we were leaving. I seriously regret that. I am feeling more and more guilty that I have not found her anything, or any of my relatives for that matter, maybe tomorrow…


I just caught the bus (the Hard Rock Café was not easy to find I had to eventually go to the Opera House where I found someone from my tour and got them to point the way as they were carrying a bag from there and then I ran to there and back to the bus) back to the train station. The ride back was uneventful as I was not sitting with the people from Austin (they were in a different car, I should have gone and sat with them, I seem to be full of “should haves” today, life is too short…). They did do a passport check on the train so I have a mark from the “Channel Tunnel” now in my passport, kind of interesting.

On the trip back to London I basically planned out tomorrow's itinerary which will be…I will let that be a suprise.

I feel kind of gross as I desperately need laundry done and around here even the laundromats close early (8:00?), everything closes early, someone was mentioning that this is actually a by-law in London put in place due to the city wanting it's people to spend time with their families. This seems a bit odd, but quite in line with the traditional way of doing things around here. So, I will have to get up early to do laundry tomorrow, but if you think I am going to fold it…you've GOT to be kidding!

Going to bed earlier tonight than normal, hope to make up for an undoubtedly short night tomorrow, I still have to figure out how much all of my books cost for customs in Canada. I think I will be helping to pay for the Prime Ministers next trip abroad, but, heck he needs the rest, or something.

⇒ Continue to London - Sunday, September 3, 1995