Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Sweeping South

So I am off of my travels again. I was planning on doing something low key and cheap as I am hoping to go to central America in Autumn and so a couple of weeks in Europe for my post-Easter break seemed just the thing. As is the way of things however, well for me anyway, what started as a thought that it would be nice to see the Parthenon turned into a fairly expensive 2000 mile train journey.... Oooops. So yesterday I boarded my first train, the Eurostar to Paris. Annoyingly, despite being sold a " window" seat all I had was a bulkhead so rather than staring dreamily at the view as planned I buried my head in a 3 week old copy of the Church Times to pass the time. Arrival at Paris meant a change from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon for the onward journey. It was at his point that I discovered the perils of A) speaking a very tiny bit of French and B) looking like I knew what I was doing. Before you could say zut alores I had been adopted by two bewildered Canadians and three scared Aussies who also need to get to Gare du Lyon and were without a clue as to how to do so. Tickets bought and five people stopped from going in six different directions I managed to get us all (plus vast amounts of luggage, there's not mine) on the metro for the transfer. As we were rattling along a young man looked over at me... English? He said. Yes I replied. I want to go to England he is said in broken English... To Manchester to see the football... Somehow I knew what was coming... Manchester United I said?  Oui, they are the best team.... One has to wonder the odds that he should find himself on the Metro next to a girl from the very town he idolised only to have her be a City fan. He took it well and we attempted to discuss the upcoming Derby...not easy given my French does not extend to much beyond ordering tickets and drinks.  Lots of shrugging and hand waving seemed to do the trick. At Gare de Lyon I put my impromptu tour party on their train and managed to grab a quick sandwich before boarding my ride, the TGV to M ilan. thankfully this time my window seat had a window, which given I had a seven hour journey was a relief. The train was fast to Lyon and so passed a few hours of pleasant but rather dull French countryside. From then on in though the view just got better and better as we climbed into the French Alps. It was amazing to see the snow capped peaks looming over us a we snaked our way down ever narrower valleys and see the towns and villages take on an increasingly idyllic ski chalet character. The only sadness was that night fell when we were still in the Alps on the Italian side by now though. I eeked out the view as long as I could but finally admitted defeat and took to my book. A couple of hours later we pulled into Milan - only 20 minutes late on a 7 hour ride can't be bad.... Looking forward to what tomorrow holds.

1 comment:

Mithranstar said...

Sounds fab so far! I've been stuck as the "tour guide" far too many times in Paris but i'm lucky in that i've got a very good knowledge of Paris, and passable French. I'd be lost in any other city!