As we were closing up the apartment in Paris before leaving, we looked out the window to the south to see if the rain that had started during the night had let up (it had). And then, even though we’ve looked at this view dozens of times, Dale noticed something that neither of us had noticed before: an optical illusion – take a look at the diagonal windows of the white building in the center of the picture and decide whether that wall is flat or protruding.
We’re not sure, but we think it’s a flat wall and the diagonal windows run along the stairwell.
Anyway, we put the shutters down, locked up, and took the Metro to Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar Hi-Speed train to London. After clearing French and then British immigration, I took this photo of our waiting train (the white and yellow Eurostar train next to the red one):
Our journey was to take us north to Calais, then under the English Channel through the “Chunnel,” a 31.4 mile undersea rail tunnel, reaching England near Kent, then on to London’s Saint Pancras station.
More than 18 million people traveled between Paris and London on the Chunnel Train last year. It has now captured over 70% of the passenger travel between the two cities because it’s inexpensive ($122 each), frequent (18 trips daily) and fast (2 hours and 15 minutes).
And I mean fast! The train averages 300 km/hr (186 mph). I thought I’d check about a half hour out of Paris, so I turned on the GPS on my iPad to see what our speed was – 206 mph!!! See for yourself (I know that’s the fastest I’ve ever gone on land):
The Channel Tunnel is a real feat of engineering, voted one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. At its lowest point, it’s 250 feet below sea level and it’s 23.5 miles long. Surprisingly, though, it’s neither the longest underwater tunnel in the world nor the deepest – that award goes to the Seikan Tunnel in Japan (790 feet deep and 33.46 miles long)!
A private consortium started digging the Chunnel in 1988 and it was operational by 1994. I remember back in 1980 when I transited the English Channel on the Knista on the way to the Azores from Germany that there were numerous high-speed hovercraft ferries zipping back and forth between France and England; I wonder if they’re still in business?
We arrived in London at Saint Pancras Station a little after 4:00 GMT (London is one time zone ahead of Paris). We were happy to be one step closer to home, but it was odd hearing everybody around us speaking English.
Saint Pancras Station is one of the more attractive train stations we’ve been in. We really liked this statute, called The Meeting Place, underneath the station clock.
We booked a room in advance at the Megaro Hotel right across the street; that’s it with the modern art façade:
Tomorrow we’ll be up early to take the Tube to Heathrow and home, but, now it’s time for Fish & Chips!