To London and Paris

1 April - Friday


10:25 PM - 12:10 PM

Chicago O'Hare to London Heathrow

AA 98

The first flight was wthout hitches, especially on April Fools Day, except that I again packed a bit too much -- hey, three seasons! We flew American Airlines to London, premium economy. Entertainment and seat controls well designed but we stll prefer Lufthansa for comfort. Tried watching Belfast, but couldn't get subtitles. Hard of hearing descriptors helped, but I fell asleep. Jan completely out for the flight.

2 April – Saturday


Hotel Camille Paris Gare de Lyon, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

Landed in London to warmth and sun. Easy border entry. After grabbng a snack (hard to work the pay machine; store manager just stood there), we were easly able to grab a famous, black London taxi. They're modern and roomy. Driver gave us a great tour as we plowed through London outskirts and city traffic to St Pancras station. We talked about The Crown series He said Americans know more about royal gossip than the Brits; apparently The Firm keeps a lid on news.

Then...getting to the continent. We had had to reserve the Eurostar (Chunnel train) because we found out before we left home that our British Airways flight to Paris had been cancelled. So, at St Pancras (a very old part of London now fllled with motley new and old buildings) we were early and tried to take an earlier Eurostar. Full, plus the line outside the station wound down the street and around the block. We were told to get something to eat and come back for our actual reserved time. Had a great meal in a pub in an old, former part of the King's Cross station across the street -- filled with pub antiques; best fish and chips ever. Corcoran's, take note!

Found elevators, saw a rescue dog and handler waiting for its new owner, chilled...until we went back across the street and saw a same long line as before! Had no idea that a refugee-like experience awaited us. The line outside was just the start. Inside, it wound back on itself around 10 times. Lots of gallows humor. We sympathized with a couple heading to Paris for a surprise birthday weekend for her. all got very tiresome (standing for two hours) and tense. As the minutes ticked by, we all wondered if we could get to our reserved seats. Families left drink and snack garbage on the way -- no one wanted to get out of line -- and, considering the crowds, the station had zero accessible garbage cans. Some folks made their own out of discarded plastic bags -- they filled up fast.

THEN, after another serpentine line, we still had to go through Covid IDs, passport checks, luggage scans, and more. How we got to the right agent and made it through to the train was a miracle. Thank you Brexit for the ordeal. Note to self -- don't book the Eurostar on a spring weekend. Once on the train, it was heaven. Good food, wine and service, and not the total, dark tunnel experiece we expected. Restful, even. We would need it, as some of the worst was yet to come.