Aer Lingus is a no-frills airline and my ticket to London was cheaper if I stopped in Dublin. I had enough time between flights to buy a pair of Guinness socks and eat the best yogurt parfait I’ve ever had and drink a decent flat white from the Chocolate Lounge.
No more time to browse and time to get to my gate. As I passed out of the main terminal I saw a brilliant small kiosk asking for customer feedback with just 4 quick options. I pressed full smiley face because the customs process and overall airport experience was terrific. The airport is compact and clean with great signage.
I am standing in line for boarding and see another feedback kiosk expressly for the restrooms. I decided to use the facilities. Imagine the worst scenario: trash on the dirty floor, messy sinks, toilet paper stuck on seat. Okay, that was LAX Terminal 2. The Dublin Terminal 2 women’s restroom was beautiful, very clean and fully functional. On the way out there was a further kiosk to allow customers to alert them to any problems. Clearly they will receive prompt attention. Simply brilliant.
The Eurostar train between London and Paris or Lille is a super cool way to get across the English Channel. The train passes through the channel tunnel or “chunnel” much more quickly than going through the airport or taking the ferry. Compared to SNCF (the French railway), it is amazing.
I was scheduled to catch the 8 a.m. train from St Pancras Train Station in London the morning after Stage 3. I was out late the night before so I did not rise in time to check my email. I missed the email from Eurostar telling me that due to mechanical difficulties and repairs in the tunnel, I needed to reschedule to a later train. A ticket concierge helped me reschedule and I had a couple of hours to get a bite to eat and get through security.
The St Pancras station’s (across the road from Kings Cross Train Station) Eurostar loading area is fairly small and probably due to the maintenance issues was very crowded. Once we loaded onto the train it was a very comfortable 2.5 hour ride to Lille. I did not even feel the pressure in my ears when we entered the tunnel. The only way I could tell I was under the English Channel was the dark windows.
Later I received an email offering me a partial discount for the inconvenience. On SNCF I encountered crabby ticket sales people, nonexistent train conductors, closed cafe cars (for the duration of a 4+ hour train trip), and overcrowded passenger cars. I tried first class and second class. The only difference was the color of the seats and plugs for recharging phones.
My chunnel experience from Paris to London was excellent. I already blogged about my misadventure getting to Gare du Nord. Once I got to the station and found the Eurostar entrance I received excellent service. The ticket concierge helped me change my ticket to the next train without a penalty. This time security and waiting was easier. It seemed like we were in London in very little time.
I will definitely use the chunnel again if the opportunity presents itself and recommend it to fellow travelers.