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Unread 12 Jan 19, 09:01 PM  
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Gill H
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Join Date: Jan 08
Location: London

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Eventually we found the strength to drag ourselves away from our comfortable surroundings, and headed over to International Departures. We didnít have much time to look at the stationís Christmas decorations on the way, but did see the enormous tree sponsored by Tiffanyís, flanked by a rather hideous huge blue robot for no apparent reason.

Our tickets were on our phones and it was simple and quick to scan the barcode at the ticket barrier. Usually I donít risk this in case my battery dies, but we discovered the previous night that I had only printed off one of our two Eurostar tickets, so phone was the best option.

Once through the barrier we were straight into the security area. This always feels a bit rushed and hassled to me, perhaps because itís immediately next to the barrier so there is no separate queue. The women in front of us were taking their time getting trays, taking off coats and putting things into the tray to go through the scanner, and eventually an official gestured to us to jump the queue and go in front of them. This felt very uncomfortable indeed Ė weíre British, we donít jump queues! But I guess itís OK when youíre told to do it. Peter got through without incident, but for some reason the security arch beeped when I went through it, and I was subjected to an extremely thorough pat-down Ė I thought it was only the American TSA staff who specialized in those! Anyway, they obviously didnít find anything, so we were free to join the passport queue. Since we have the biometric chip on our passports we were directed into the queue for the scanners. However, we really wished we had just gone to the other queue, because those who were being seen by a person were getting through much more quickly! There were only two scanning machines working, and one of those kept breaking down. In the end it took a good few minutes and several attempts before I eventually got through. Peter didnít manage at all and had to get his done by a person Ė which would have been far quicker.

We noticed that there is now a World Duty Free shop instead of the previous W H Smiths, so we had a quick browse but didnít buy anything. We had intended to buy some mints or sweets for the train, but everything in the shop was in big packages with silly prices. So take warning and nip to M&S in the station if you want sweets or snacks!

The departure hall was really busy considering it was mid-afternoon on a weekday, but once the Brussels train started boarding, the crowd thinned out a little. And it wasnít long before the Paris train was called and we headed up the moving walkway to find our carriage.

We were soon settled in our seats on the Eurostar. I wonder whether we are the only people who prefer the old trains to the new version? The new ones seem to have narrower seats (important to those of us whose bodies are more Baymax than Baywatch) and they have done away with those wrap-around head supports which were handy for grabbing a quick forty winks. I appreciate the phone charging facilities and thereís wifi now, but really I found the older trains much more comfortable.

Anyway, we left promptly at 15.31 and were on our way to Paris. Weíd forgotten that there are now films and TV programmes available free on the Eurostar app, and the wifi wasnít strong enough to reinstall the app on our tablets, so instead we settled for reading and napping, apart from a brief visit to the buffet car for lattes and a Toblerone (itís so long since I had one of those, itís not something I ever think of buying normally!)

At 18.47 (French time) we pulled into Paris Gare du Nord. Our previous visit there had been in March for Peterís birthday trip, and although some of the renovation work had been completed, it still looked a bit of a mess. We didnít take much notice though, as we were too busy going down the escalator to the RER trains for the next stage of our journey.

Wanting to avoid the usual long queues at the ticket office, we found ourselves a ticket machine. However, after several attempts using our Halifax Clarity card, we couldnít get it to work. The machine took coins rather than notes, which was no good to us, so we tried other machines nearby, to no avail. Peter remembered that there was a ticket office nearer the RER trains, so we headed in that general direction and soon found one off to the right, where a friendly member of staff sold us two tickets to Marne la Vallee. We used our Halifax Clarity card for the first time for this transaction, and were relieved when the PIN number worked!

We headed down in the lift to Platform 42 to catch the RER line B Sud (South), onto a fairly quiet train. One stop later we pulled into Chatelet les Halles and walked across the platform to catch the line A train to Marne la Vallee Ė an easy change with no steps or escalators to deal with. But thatís where things got a little trickier. I donít know what time rush hour starts in Paris, but I would have thought by about 7.15 it would have been slackening off. But I couldnít have been more wrong. The line A train was packed to the gills and we had to push hard to get ourselves and our suitcase on the train. Having lived in London for years now, weíre familiar with the sight of tourists trying to negotiate the Piccadilly line to Heathrow in rush hour with heavy luggage, and have always tried to avoid being Ďthose peopleí. Well, now we were Ďthose peopleí! For a good twenty minutes we were squashed up so tight there was hardly room to breathe. It wasnít until we really got out in the suburbs that enough people left the train to make it possible for us to move. Fortunately the rest of the journey was uneventful, and by the time we pulled into Marne la Vallee the train was almost empty. We were soon up the escalator and through the barriers where what should meet us but Ö torrential rain. Seriously, the heavens were emptying upon us. Oh well, nothing for it but to run over to the Cheyenne bus stop and get under shelter. Fortunately it wasnít too long before a Cheyenne bus pulled up, and with some difficulty we managed to squeeze ourselves on the dayís final form of transport. Usually we donít bother with the buses, as even Cheyenne or Santa Fe arenít far to walk Ė but with rain like this, there was no question we were taking the bus.
Queen of Team Wimp
DLP: day trips 2000, 2003; Cheyenne Sep 2009, Feb 2011; Sequoia Lodge June 2008, May 2012; Elysee May 2012, Jan 2013, Sep 2013; Disneyland Hotel Mar 2015, Santa Fe Nov 2016; Newport Bay Sep 2017
WDW: Port Orleans Riverside Dec 10; SSR Nov 14
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DLP for lions, jungles and food, oh my!
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