Monday, 5 December, 2018
Things went really smoothly for leaving Turin. The cab showed up exactly as we got downstairs with our luggage, the train came on time, and our seats were great! This time first class felt a lot more like first class. Don’t know what happened the last time.
Anyway, the seats were comfy and we had our first forward facing seats of all our bookings (all requested that way but none except this delivered) Toilet is still disgusting. I think they must use a septic tank method. Not sure. Even the plugs were accessible and working. I watched two movies and then my battery died. Both fluffy and forgettable.
Oh and the scenery was gorgeous. Low and higher mountains (the Alps) usually draped with clouds at several levels, and snow covered (see the videos at the bottom). None of my photos do it justice, with the reflecting train lights etc. I thought, as I sat on that train, if I couldn’t have a sea or river view, I’d choose mountains.
Paris was another story. Arrival was on time and it was looking good until we tried to get down to the RER level so that we could get to Gare du Nord. The down escalator was broken. I suppose they opted to keep the only working one as the up, and I get that but when you have two heavy suitcases and a carry on, even down is a real challenge.
First I, then Krish, tried to find an elevator – no luck. It was a long way down with a landing in the middle. No choice but for Krish to bring each large case down in turn, me carrying the not-so-light carry on plus my CPAP and bags. Once down there we then had to get into the metro for the RER and again, there was no working escalator and no elevator anywhere. This time Krish had to bring each case down three levels. How the very elderly or disabled would manage it I have no idea. Never anyone around to ask questions of either. This seems common all over Italy and France, no station staff…
After that, all went well. Krish and I took turns popping out of the station to look around. I didn’t go far. I thought about crossing the road and venturing further but the traffic was terrifying and the area around the station isn’t inviting. Instead I found a Five Guys and got some Cajun fries – 3.50 for a small one. It was nice to have something hot and spicy after two months of under-seasoned food. We also had a messy but satisfying cherry clafouti for our evening Eurostar snack.
Paris still wins no prizes with me. They cleaned the station up but the streets around it still smelled like a toilet. So we waited for the Eurostar train and then had a swift journey towards London in the dark.
At St Pancras I ordered a mini cab and we had another swift and pleasant ride to Hackney.
Always weird to come home after being away, staying in somewhat more luxurious places. Still, it looked tidy and familiar – bigger than I remembered – and very cold! On with the heat, cup of tea and some soup and sausage rolls (that I picked up at M&S at the station) and eventually to bed.
Sunday we unpacked. Everything is out of the cases but the bits and pieces aren’t all put away yet. That will take some Krish Tetris skill since the cupboard looks quite full already and a food order on its way this morning from Ocado. We had booked to go for Sunday roast but Krish asked if we could put it off. Instead I got a little steak pie (for one but split between us) and some cole slaw for lunch and we got some Indian food that was dinner and then lunch yesterday.
Some reflections are in order. I love Hackney. Krish says he misses the view of Superga and the Alps (when we could see them) and the market and the people. And, of course, I do too really. But then there are so many things that are good about here. The light is different, and the weather, the people, the transport, the language, the attitudes, the food, the architecture… but I sense a lot of freedom and opportunity. And I suppose that’s what brings the Italians to countries like this anyway. Italy again next year? Who knows but for now, this picture says it.
* Krish said I should coin this. I’m sure someone already has!