Gare du Nord

My last morning in Paris. I wasn’t sure if I was going to see Anna. I’d asked her to come over and help me cart my case down the steep stairs of the apartment block  but then it had dawned on me that she’d probably had a very late night last night. On the other hand we hadn’t said our goodbyes at the station yesterday. I checked my messages. She’d sent me a video of her scooting through the streets around 1 a.m. so I was surprised and delighted to get a text saying that she was up and would come over to my apartment and go to the station with me. I’d decided to travel back home via train. I’d always wanted to take the train through the Chunnel, something that Anna had done before. She warned me that I’d have to go through a security line at the Gare du Nord so to allow for plenty of time. The train ticket that I’d booked online didn’t mention this fact! My train was at 11:43 and by 10:15 Anna was with me as we made our way to the station. We said our goodbyes. She was to spend the rest of the day with Cez. The security line was quick and efficient and I found a comfy seat and took out my embroidery. This prompted a conversation with a lady around my age waiting for the same Eurostar train. Though French she’d lived in England, Islington, for 30 ears before moving back to France two years ago. Her story was so similar to mine! She now lives close to the Bois de Boulogne.

At first I thought the train was goin g to be crowded. I had reserved a seat and I was packed in at a four seater table but as the train got underway I saw that there were many open seats and so I secured a window seat for myself for the 2 1/2 hour ride to London, St Pancras. It was a dull day with heavy low clouds as we passed through the pretty dull flat countryside on our way to the coast and Calais. The journey actually through the tunnel is only about half an hour and I listened to music for the first time on my trip: a selection of music by French composers associated with my trio: Satie, Ravel, Debussy, and the French-by-residence Chopin. I’m planning to play the c# minor Nocturne next Saturday in Manchester, my first time returning to the Meetup group in 18 months.

We arrived on time at St Pancras. What a lovely railway station . Comfy chairs, clean, spacious, lots of cafes. I ordered some soup and then headed out to try and find the Hop on/hop off bus. I’d thought it would be fun to see the sites of London before heading north. It’s so long since I was in London – maybe the early 1980’s. It took me a while to find the correct bus stop and when I inquired of the driver his route it turned out that he was The Green Line, which was simply a branch of the Red Line, connecting the Red Line to st Pancras and King’s Cross. I didn’t have the time to do what I’d planned yet without it I’d have to spend a lot of time waiting at King’s Cross. I inquired at the station ticket office if I could jump on an earlier train to Leeds with my precooked ticket – but no.

But there was no alternative but to sit and wait 2 hours. I found a comfy spot, admired the architecture, drank tea and wrote my journal. When it came time to board this time the train was packed and I shared my table with a dad and his two kiddies from Wakefield. It was his daughter’s birthday and they’d gone on a birthday trip to London. As we pulled out of King’s Cross I could see the train clock. We pulled out at the correct time – to the second! When we stopped briefly win Wakefield the guard announced that we had to wait for a platform because we’d arrived a little early. “Don’t tell anyone,” he added. 

In Leeds I transferred for the 40 minute ride to Hebden Bridge. As I waited on a small waiting room on the departure platform several people were fighting a loosing battle to stop rain water pouring into the waiting from from the platform.

The train was packed and in order to be sure of a seat I sat in the corridor on the pull-down seat. Once in residence I called for a taxi to meet me at the station since it was pouring down, and I was back in my apartment at 8 p.m. after a very interesting 10 hour journey and a truly wonderful, magical week with Anna.

Anna spent the following day by herself in Paris – visiting a cat cafe – before flying back to California and starting her new job.

I still have the bracelet my dad brought me back from his trip to Paris in the early 1960s