Sunday, August 10, 2014

England for a change, and trains

post #202
         Most of my May trip to Europe was spent visiting my step-mother -- who is English and she lives in England, near Stratford-on-Avon.  It was often raining, so this time I didn't take that many photos there.  But I did travel by train to France, over and back.  And, both in London and in Paris, I needed to take the "underground" or the metro in order to change stations in each city.  In Europe, big cities have more than one main station.  Luckily I love trains and thank goodness I can speak French!  Even so, it was quite a job to figure out times and platforms and how to be headed in the right direction once I found that platform. 
        I happen to love taking photos in a train AND from a moving train.  Ever since childhood, I have been fascinated by what is passing by so quickly.  Back "in the olden days," my sisters and I traveled by train between parents a couple of times a month.  We lived in Connecticut, and my father was in New York City.  These days I hardly ever get to ride a train!  I took advantage of my May trip within a trip to travel on a bunch of trains.
        So, from England to France, it's first a train, 1) Moreton-in-Marsh to London/ Paddington station.  Next comes (goes) the underground (subway) to 2) London/St. Pancras station in order to catch the 3) Eurostar train, the one that zips UNDER the English Channel to Paris/Gare du Nord.  Very speedy, not good for photos.  The metro (subway) in Paris to the 4) Montparnasse station was also not good for photos.  Finally and barely I caught the 5) fast train (TGV), to Rennes, in western France, arriving exactly on schedule at 8:30 pm their time.  (France is an hour earlier than England, go figure.)  This was my first day and by far, so to speak, the most challenging.  I am so grateful the French were very helpful each of the many times I asked someone a question.  Merci de tout coeur!

        After all this verbiage, here are some photos.  First, the train to London:

looking south, from my seat

looking north, across the aisle, afields of rape seeds, for making oil

notice the tops of heads mirrored in the baggage rack above

My seatmate spent the ENTIRE two hours of the trip going from one device to the others. I doubt if he noticed I was taking his picture. He never looked out the window, said a word or smiled. I was busy looking incredulous!
    Next, photos while figuring out how to change stations after arriving at London/Paddington Station:

ticket kiosks at Paddington  -- Travelers are supposed to punch their tickets before getting on the train and sometimes when they get off.

mid morning on a Monday must not be a busy time at Paddington Station

on the way to catch the underground to my next train station

the platform for the trip between train stations -- obviously not underground here, but still part of the "Tube" system.

One of the stops, at "Great Portland Street", wherever that is. Notice the warning just outside the door to MIND THE GAP, which means "remember there is a space between the train and the platform."  However, could they be thinking about income gap as well??!!??

FIrst of two views inside London/St. Pancras station. Lots of shops, including a whole grocery store with meals ready to go.  And bottled water.  There are NO WATER FOUNTAINS that I could find in any stations.  Not anywhere, in either country.  But at least there has been great progress toward making it mostly smoke-free!

The front of the Eurostar train which is waiting in the station -- this will be the back of the train on its return trip.  These trains are scheduled two every hours in each direction, and they are full.  Advance seat reservations are needed. They are like a pricey shuttle back and forth between London and Paris.  Some people commute!
        More next week, since I have run out of steam today for more photos.... I still want to share a statue with those of you who read children's books and who have met Paddington bear over the years: this statue of him is in Paddington Station.  It was providing a seat to a Japanese tourist at the time I was there, and I didn't ask him to move, even though I would have then had a better photo.  Anyway, this sweet bear sends greetings to all of us around the world, I am sure.

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