Friday, December 21, 2012

Nuremberg to Frankfurt, to Paris, to London by Train - Wednesday December 19, 2012

bags off the ship
It started fine. The taxi was on time as a result of the excellent organization of departure day by the AMALyra staff. The Captain, the Chef and our Host Maddie all shook our hands.
bags off the ship
We are at the station in 20 minutes as expected. We managed to find the correct window to stamp our Eurail pass and then caught an earlier train to Frankfurt since we did not have to have seat reservations from Nuremberg. The train we took was an IC train (Inter City) instead of our planned ICE (Inter City Express). The one we took made an extra stop, took 5 minutes longer, but still arrived 30 minutes earlier.
bags off the ship
Other than loading the luggage onto the train (first time) and unloading it (luggage move (or LM) 2), all had gone well. We found a snack bar and Connie left for the bathroom. Almost 30 minutes later she returned. I was ready to call the station police. She had gotten downstairs confused. (you will have to ask her) with something.

We made our connection on the DB Bahn equivalent of the SNCF TGV (LM 3). We were served nice lunch at our seat (included) and then we arrived in Paris and all began to unravel. I had left my iPad on the train which was found by an American couple seated behind us. I returned to the train and retrieved it. Then we began the short walk to Gare de Nord (having arrived at Gare de l'Est. Almost an hour to make our connection.

Avoiding the short connection via 60 steps up, we began walking and looking for a taxi. No taxi. Five long blocks up the hill. A heavy back pack. A forced stop to regain my breath. Finally we got to Gare de Nord. Was it raining? Of course!

Now the real fun began. We tried to use the automatic turnstile with our tickets. Connie's got stuck in the machine. Finally, I retrieved it and tried again. And again. And again. Help arrived. Our tickets did nor work in the machine. (How clever) so we were guided to a booth. Then the British Border Control agents were ahead of us (as well as long lines of people rushing for our 5:47 departure as well as the 6:14 to London). We got out of line, filled out the required forms, and after I took off my hat and the control agent could tell that I matched my passport picture, we were allowed to continue.

Then French security. Unhook all the bags (which were linked together for easier pulling), take out all metal objects, remove your coat, etc. But we kept our shoes on.

Finally we were ready to catch the train. Or so we thought. Now French passport control (or maybe it was joint). At last we were all back together but our connection time of 57 minutes almost had been used up!. Sign: Wait Here for Coaches 1-8. Big crowds, but I sensed something amiss and kept going. The crowds were waiting for the 6:14. Hurry. Down to the train. Car 12 was there, but we were in Car 4 (which I had translated from 4 to 2). At car 8 the conductor said Get on here! We did LM 5 was now complete since we left our two largest bags in the open luggage compartment of car 8. ) The train started. Then we walked through crowded cars pulling our small bags behind us and waving my back pack at all unwary passengers. We got to car 2 and found "our" seats occupied. I discovered that 4 did not mean 2 but it meant 4. Back to car 4. All the while the train is moving as was my backpack. One of our seats was occupied, in car 4, but he left quickly. We collapsed in our seats.

Thank goodness we got on at car 8 because there was absolutely NO space for our big luggage. Barely enough space for us since we were taking the Chunnel in coach (which saved $350 a person). If we had had no luggage, or only a small bag and no arctic protective coats we would have been fine. Connie was exhausted (but she reacted quietly and positively). I was exhausted. I slept through the Chunnel.

In London I returned to car 8 (my iPad and iMacBook Air were safely in my backpack), got our luggage, tied everything together with bungee cords, and left for the taxi queue. Through British customs quickly (none was there by the time we arrived), walked to a long queue for taxis. Since our trip was less than 5 minutes the driver was a bit put out. We he lifted our heavy bags he was bit more put out. But when we got to our hotel and I gave him a 5 £ tip (the fare was also 5£) he smiled and carried our bags up the four steps to the hotel LM 6 was complete. We were in London. Later we walked to a very nice Italian restaurant for lasagne (me) and rigatoni with zucchini (daily special). Both were especially good, as were the mixed salads. And the wine was very welcome. Hallelujah!

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