Hard as I try to keep everything as up-to-the-minute as possible, it just isn't practical, so I hope you'll excuse a little lag-time. So while this will be posted Tuesday, the 23rd, it was written Monday, the 21st. And so, having said....back to London.
As we checked out of the hotel, I had a question for the clerk and he looked at me oddly, then at Gary, who had to translate what I'd said in English into English for the clerk. If the English can't understand my English, just imagine what fun France will be.
Riding the London Underground at 8:30 on a Monday morning is to practice to be a sardine. Finally made it to St. Pancras, had enough time for a cup of coffee and to get Euros at the ATM (which sent me into a panic when it denied both my cards. I was chalking it up to yet another endless Roger-as-Victim-of-the-fates when Gary suggested I go try it again. Went to the same machine and a woman in line for the other machine said "It's broken." Whew! Got $200 Euros on the working ATM, got back to join Gary when they announced the departure of our train, EuroStar 9018. We are in Coach 18 of 18 coaches.
Train left exactly on time (oh, those Europeans and their rail system). Announcements are in French, for some unknown reason.
11:16 a.m. Hard to tell exactly when we entered the Chunnel. The train goes through several tunnels on the way, and entering each one I think "well, here we are" only to have the train emerge and continue its way through the green English countryside which, were it not for the obviously not-American houses we passed, might as well be Wisconsin. So I assume, this most recent tunnel having gone on for several minutes now, that we are going beneath the English Channel. My ears are popping alot, which I take as further proof.
11:23 a.m. Gary and I seated across from one another on the aisle...Gary sleeping. We're sitting beside a French couple reading French newspapers and having a lunch the wife brought along in a large plastic bag. The train is quite comfortable, though not lush--at least not in Second Class; adequate room, but not spacious. And the seats, of course, do not recline. Very quiet: no one talking. Odd.
11:29 a.m. Nope, still in England. Just emerged from a very long tunnel. I can, however, see what I believe to be the entrance to the Chunnel ahead and to the left. I may be wrong (it's been known to happen).
12:23 p.m. ...and wrong I was. Still no Chunnel. Just asked the French couple if Paris and London are on the same time. They are.
12:34 p.m. The long tunnel we emerged from at 11:29 was the Chunnel, and we've been in France for over an hour. Oh, well. Bienvenue a France!
12:45 p.m. The wife of the French couple offered her husband a banana from her bag of snacks. He took it and, instead of peeling it by breaking the stem and peeling downward, he bit off the tip and peeled it that way. First time in my life I've ever seen that. Maybe it's a French thing?
3:36 p.m. Pickpocketed on the Paris Metro by 3 or 4 teenagers who distracted me by asking questions in French, then stole my wallet. Luckily they then tossed it on the floor without taking the wallet itself and all my credit cards. Ah, welcome to Paris.
It is truly hard not to think the world is out to get you when there is an endless, endless trail of minor disasters behind you at the end of every day.
And as an extra bonus, internet service, upon which I depend heavily, is sporadic at very best. Ten-fifteen minute waits are common, and often there is no internet at all. Oh, yes, and the box of my needed nutritional supplements I mailed three weeks ago has not arrived, or arrived and was given out to somebody else.
I identify more and more strongly with Al Capp's character in Li'l Abner, Joe Bltfsk who walked around even on the sunniest of days with a raincloud over his head. But please don't feel sorry for me...I do a wonderful job of that all by myself.