The wake up call came at 6:00AM and was louder than a school bell. Although I woke just minutes before the call, I’d dosed a bit just allowing the bell to, well, alarm me … I guess that’s the purpose! I was aware I needed to be on my feet as I was advised to be at the train platform well in advance to clear security before boarding.
I spent last night at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, a bit faster paced after having spent the prior three days in Liverpool, learning more about the Beatles. I still have the Beatles in my head after having seen a live show at The Cavern Club. Significant because the hotel is connected to the train station. Knowing I had an early morning departure, it was easier, and all I had to do was go downstairs and make my way to the adjoining station.
I hit the train station at 7:15 AM and WOW! It was alive with movement! The super wide corridor, much wider than an airport terminal, has tile floors and is lined with luxurious store fronts and a few small cafes so you can grab a quick bite on the go. It’s super nice and clean – making me wonder why we don’t have these types of stations in my homeland. It’s awesome!
Everything was orderly and yet everyone was scurrying about. Most of the people were dressed sharply for their travel. Very different from the airports and train stations I’m accustomed to — I didn’t notice anyone dressed in pajamas and slippers, sweat pants, hoodies….. Hmmm, it’s like the way people used to dress years ago for travel! Not that it really matters. For me, a large part of what I enjoy about traveling is noticing and experiencing these differences. If it were all the same, there would be no point.
I purchased a scarf to help keep warm in the European winter weather that looks like an American flag. It caused me to hold my head a bit high. In part, maybe because I’m proud to be an American! After all they do like us don’t they?
You know, the rest of the world including the English … ? Well, don’t they, don’t they all love Americans? Then why is this Englishman giving me crap while passing through security because my tote bumped in to his tote. He was yelling with a vein popping out on his neck. It was worse than the school-bell wake up call!
The problem was I couldn’t even understand what the fellow was actually saying as he ranted. It’s all I could do but laugh, so my only response for the slick looking skinny guy, with my long hair and big teeth, was to console him by saying, you’re going to be ok, aren’t you? And, that was the end of that!
Now, I went back to the Beatles song that was in my head still from Liverpool the day earlier… something about peace and love. Damn Englishman! LOL
Then, “Imagine all the people.” Mad Englishman! Living life in PEACE.
As I approach the immigration gate to hand my passport to the guy in the booth, I notice the lady in front of me seemed very nice, and not bad looking either. She appeared American Indian or maybe from Mexico, but I noticed she had a US Passport. He glanced at her passport quickly, stamped it and smiled as he returned it to her.
Then, as I approached him, his face changed as he barked passport please. I swear the guy with the turban on his head looked at every page in my passport to be sure I was safe to pass! Finally, he stamped it and allowed me through. I believe it was the flag scarf that put him at ease with me!
The ride is smooth as the EuroStar train glides in excess of 274Km per hour from London’s St. Pancras Station to Amsterdam via Brussels, Belgium. A much different feel than the cross-country Amtrak in America, known as “The Southwest Chief,” I took from LA to Kentucky in 1985.
I’m passing through the tunnel under the waters of the English Channel bound for mainland Europe. My ears continue to pop a bit as the descent moves at a more rapid pace than I’m used to. Ummmm … and my seat is facing so that I’m riding backwards.
The train emerges from the darkness of the tunnel. We’re nearly to Brussels. There’s something else that’s different on this train journey. It’s very quiet, the only noises are those of the train car doors opening or closing from time to time as passengers go to the bathroom. You can hear the train accelerate, but not many voices. It is posted to be respectful of others in regards to keeping your voice low and, as they state it, keep a tranquil atmosphere.
The train attendants bring the carts with light food, snacks, beer, wine and soda. The view from the train window provides not only awesome views of the countryside of Belgium, but also some interesting ones like in downtown Brussels.
Did I mention we stopped in Brussels! Yes, but only for a few minutes for others to board. Now, Amsterdam bound at an amazing speed of just over 300KM and Hour… WOW! Sailing through periodic tunnels one minute and wide open countryside the next.
And, the song is still playing in my ears…All we need is love.. do do do… Peace, Love … Damn Englishman!