After an early start for all of us, varying from 1am to 4am, we all met in our wonderful Muddles multicolour uniform at St Pancras International for the first leg of our journey. After Lydia’s mum had taken a couple of photos for us we checked in.
Now having been excited about going on the Eurostar for the first time I must say I actually slept through most of the journey. Apparently though Rachel and Gemma talked to another stampede group, Amy did her makeup, Lizz slept (clearly that runs in the family), Harriet played the idiot game(?!) and Lydia ate breakfast while Katie read. We got to Pareeeeee at 10:17 English time, 11:17 French time. As we needed to be at the embassy at 11:45 it was then a mad dash to the metro.
Now I should point out that this was not only a need to get the embassy fast but a bit of a competition. You see the other group which we met on the train were getting to the embassy by taxi and we were determined that public transport would be both cheaper and faster – we don’t have money to burn on taxis!
So we arrived at Pareeeee gare du nord and headed straight for left luggage. Crammed 8 bags into 2 lockers (we were very pleased with this) and then ran for the metro. Then DISASTER there were MEGA MEGA QUEUES for the ticket machines! So being the genii that we are we split into 2 groups with one Frenchish speaker in each to try buying some tickets. Then super geniuses Lydia and Katie spotted that the little shop sold carnets of tickets which is what we wanted, thus skipping the whole queuing and having to then try using a ticket machine thing!
So 2 metro rides later (scary doors open before the train stops) we arrived at Madeleine metro station and headed for the embassy, We found a road with lots of embassies and walked along until one embassy made us cross the road because they wouldn’t let us use their pavement. Turns out it was ours. We got chaperoned back across the road by Rolph from the sound of music and we showed our invitations and passports and were allowed in. We felt a little out of place looking rather hot and slightly grubby in what is essentially a MASSIVE stately home (be warned everyone now has aspirations of becoming a British ambassador).
We were the 3rd to last group to arrive, but weren’t too long after 12 noon. Another group turned up slightly after us, but to our surprise the group who had taken the taxis didn’t surface till a long time later, clearly public transport is the way to go!
After a speech by the British ambassador (when everyone went quiet Lizz managed a little faux pas –clearly lack of sleep was getting the better of her) and another by the chief commissioner for the Midlands region we sat down to have our picnic lunches. While doing this each group also had their photo taken. We were BY FAR the best looking group in our rainbow uniform. We looked AMAZING in our multicoloured hoodies (and I don’t mean to brag…). We had various photos in lots of different places in the house and gardens.
After spending a while at the embassy we headed off, with the wonderful Rachel as tour guide, to get a taste of Pareeeee. We went through Place de la Concorde – where we had various photos with statues, then Jardins de Tuieries and then Paris Plage- a series of funny beach type things along the river Seine, with very few actually having sand! Here we completed the country challenge for France – a boat ride on the Seine, although it was actually a little toy boat….
From here we went to Place de Vosges – the oldest square in Paris and had a little rest – which was much appreciated by all, it has been such a humid day and everyone was rather worn out by this point. The intention was to go to Musee Carnavalet next, however by the time we got there it was going to be a waste of time putting our bags in the cloakroom only to have to leave 10 minutes later so we decided to give it a miss.
We decided to make up for this loss of culture with some French food on the way back to the station so we stopped and practised our best French to get some crepes, slushi drinks and glace (ice cream). Back at the station we had a bit of a wander, got some more water, stamps for postcards, butter (!!!) and retrieved our bags from the super hot locker room ready to board the 18:01 train to Colonge.
We are now sat on the train (although won’t be when we post this…) in the middle of Belgium, having just passed through Brussels. We tried to leave Harriet and Lydia behind in their quest to stand on Belgium soil, but failed :P We are enjoying the slightly more comfortable and spacious seats of these longer distance trains and I think we have now each eaten most of our packed dinners.
The rest of this journey will be spent by most of us trying NOT to sleep (Rachel, Amy, Harriet, Lydia and Lizz are Sudukoing) so that we can sleep as well as possible on our next train to Copenhagen…fingers crossed we’ll get a reasonably good nights sleep.
I think that’s it for now. Keep following us – we’ll update as often as we can…