I am back home in the Med after six weeks in England. That time in England was strange in many ways and I am still processing it. It would have been less strange if we hadn't had a pandemic preventing any serious travel for nearly three years.
I thought I would recount my journey as I had two suitcases and a shoulder bag to take home so I decided to travel gently by train. Flying is stressful, mainly because of the chaos of airport security, whereas trains let you carry more, keep it with you, stroll about, break your journey and see more on the way. I wore a pair of straight-leg women's trousers from Marks & Spencer that are wonderfully comfortable, soft and feminine; Also soft and comfortable were my women's polysilk shirts and I had a soft fleece for cooler weather.
All my trains ran on time and were comfortable enough. But the one thing I have to complain about is the insanity of modern ticket gates. At Chester, a large, busy station with many platforms and trains of all kinds, there are a mere five automatic gates to and from all seven platforms. With people trying to get in with bags and bicycles, and a trainload or two trying to get off simultaneously, it is chaos and needs two or three members of staff to help. The Eurostar terminus at London St Pancras has 10 platforms but the 18:01 to Paris and the 18:04 to Amsterdam were lined up on adjacent platforms both reached through a single door. Each train can carry 750 people. You can imagine the bedlam as 1500 people try to get through a single door with big luggage. Why did they put two trains adjacent like this?
Paris Gare de Lyon is slightly easier in that each platform has five ticket gates. This obviously works better ... until the old idiot in front of me couldn't find his e-ticket on his phone and spent a minute or more blocking the gate as he searched for it. Meanwhile his wife had passed through the adjacent gate with a large dog which promptly defecated just past the barrier, thus blocking another gate while she cleaned it up (well, at least she did that rather than leaving it for people to step in). On the train, these two marvels and their dog were sat right in front of me and, although the dog lay down and went to sleep readily enough, it stank. OK, I am blaming the dog; it might have been them, of course. But I had to move as the smell was horrible. It was three hours to Marseilles, the next stop, where thankfully they got off (into a hailstorm - ha! karma!). Jeez, a dog farting for three hours is a bit much. Or the owners. Or all three. How to be antisocial!
Anyway, I broke my journey in Paris and stayed at a hotel overlooking the station, the Gare de Lyon. It was still light at 10 pm so I took this photo of the impressive building. French stations are often much grander than their British counterparts.
I arrived home safely last night with my luggage. Naturally, the largest case is the one with all my new makeup, dresses, lingerie, wig and so on. Priorities, eh? Now to unpack, put away, try out and feel thankful that at last I can be fully femme again after these years in limbo.
More on my new goodies soon.