The lunch pack of Notre Dame Day Paris
Earlier than a commute, we're at a very misty Thames Ditton station in plenty of time for the 0726. There's lots of sugary breakfast to be eaten, for numerous reasons including my clear requirement for sucrose and early nourishment lest I have another passing out moment. I'm also given the news that Salford council have recently banned swearing at the quays. you fucking what?
At Vauxhall we change for the Victoria line, and at St Pancras after a quick vape we go through the rigmarole of making our way towards a platform. First, boarding passes. Then security. Then the UK exit border. Then the Schengen area entry border. Maybe that's not the right order, I dunno, but bloody hell. Anyway then we are trainside and looking for somewhere to sit. This proves difficult, because there are fucking hundreds of people around includng what seems to be 4 or 5 entire schools.
Sat in the priority seats (for no reason other than they were the only ones spare) but not in the lounge, we have more sugar. I used to have a card that let me in the lounge y'know. Used it twice in 7 years. Ah well.
The wait's quality improves when vast quantities of children board the 0858 to fuck knows where. We're on the 0924 to Paris, along with hundreds of other people. Before boarding I discover Eurostar have some new trains and obviously this excites me. Helen has never been on Eurostar despite some school or sixth form thing she was in where they sang a song about the channel tunnel ("sur la mer!") and did so well they got taken to France to perform it... by boat.
But, anyway, yes, new trains. After much faffing I figure out the new trains have 16 coaches instead of 18, and coach 14 is standard premier or business premier. We aren't premier in any way so must be on a crappy old train, and so it proves. We find the seats pretty quickly but with 15 minutes before departure I'm like, fuck it, think I'll go get a picture of the front of the train.
Walking up the platform, at the front there are loads of these cart things that look like the crates they load onto planes. Does Eurostar even have checked luggage? They're taking up a lot of the platform and as I skirt around shiftily behind them a man in a high-vis security jacket says "are you alright there, sir?" to me. "I just want a photo of the front of the train mate" says I. "Follow me, sir" and hey presto, I get escorted around the crates and beyond the "no passengers beyond this point" sign just so I can get a photo of a train I know fuck all about because for fucks sake, I am not Mark nor Silky nor t'other Mark. Cool escort though.
Back at the carriage and it's carnage. A huge gang of sixth formers plus 2 or 3 teachers have gotten on. Helen and I have table seats with no-one opposite us, and the teachers across the aisle eye our 0920 champagne with jealousy. Oh, is it only 0920 and we're on the champagne? I guess it is and I guess we are (and I guess I've written this much already, eesh).
She draws real matches when I tell her most goregrind band logos look like someone's thrown a bunch of matches or twigs on a table and say, fuck it, our name's in there somewhere. Her attempt to decipher the old (and better) Waking the Cadaver logo ends with an almost violent proclamation that it says Woking Camel.
Oh, and then we're in Paris! Fuck! It's just coming up to 1pm and as we disembark the teacher leading the sixth formers is warning her students that the metro is horrible. I've warned Helen of this too, and away we go to find the RER line B. I don't know where we're going, but apparently we've got about 90 minutes to get somewhere and the train will take 30 so there's a fair bit of grace.
Paris public transport is awful and one of the reasons for my previously proclaimed hatred. It stinks and is full of wankers. We need an identikit mother and daughter to begrudgingly move their feet from some spare seats so we can rest our totally-not-weary-legs for the reeks-of-eggs two stop trip.
Oh, we're outside Notre Dame, some famous cathedral or other. It's on an island in the middle of the Seine. I've been to Paris several times before but honestly I'm not sure if I've been here. That's not to say I haven't, but I don't remember it. It's lovely, the sun is out and the place looks great. Teeming with people, obviously, but still lovely.
Anyway after that I go for a piss and we wander across a bridge off the island, to get a photo of one of the gorgeous metro station signs. The walk involves going past lots of meat wagons and roaming armed rozzers and there seems to be some kind of political unrest brewing just over the way. Helen wants to join in, kind of, but I'm a bit more circumspect based on not being able to discern the political orientation of the mob. Also we have places to be.
Not that I actually know where we have to be, mind. All I know is there's a 2.30pm thing happening. By now it's about 2pm and we go for a sit down in a park at the end of the island. It's nice, and there's a stone with its own plaque 'n that, but we're restless souls so we go stand next to a statue of a horse. I've actually been told there's a horse we need to find, but this is at least the second horse so who knows if it's the right one. (Helen knows).
After a few minutes of hanging around while a bloke does a circuit of the area shouting "LOCKS! LOCKS! LOCK!" at everyone, I am convinced that our 2.30pm appointment is either a City Sightseeing bus turning up or some private transport like one of them cyclists with passenger things. But then at about 2.35pm Helen says "Oh, hello!" to a man with a balloon who shakes our hands, gives her two bags, and fucks off. What the deuce?
Holy shit, it's a picnic. On a really sunny day (luckily!) next to a lovely park on Île de la Cité she's only gone and arranged for some bloke to hand over some bags full of French bread and meats and cheeses and a salad and some grapefruit and orange fruit dish and a decadent cake and a bottle of champagne and a bottle of Evian and, um, a packet of English crisps. Well let's just ignore them. Fucking hell!
The Louvre has 17km of corridors and stuff. Or something.
I have no idea what this is. The Louvre again?
Nor this. Royal Bridge? Fuck knows.
Pretty sure this is the Eiffel Tower.
Boring picture of a fairly impressive and open to the public barge.
Bridge looks wooden. Isn't. Also I don't like the reflections, but Helen thinks she could make great art out of this.