Tuesday, 1 September 2015


1st - 2nd Sept 2015

Eurostar. I didn't notice any obvious sign of migrants

This will be  a 'first' for me. An organised group tour of the 'Saga' variety which is due to take us by rail from London via France and Switzerland to Tuscany. I must be feeling my age.

The start point was St Pancras where I met our guide, or host, or facilitator or whatever his title; a youngish chap called Adrian. Dressed in a sky blue jacket, garish tie and tight fitting pink trousers he  seemed efficient and affable enough even if a touch 'light of hoof' as the saying goes. He told me that there were 28 of us on this trip...and I hadn't seen any of them thus far. Indeed we wouldn't meet up until arrival by Eurostar at Paris, Gare du Nord.

All on time after a comfortable ride in a rather upmarket carriage with delicious lunch and polite service we arrived at Gare du Nord and duly assembled at the behest of Adrian who wafted a hankerchief to attract our attention. Then by bus to Gare de Lyon for the connecting train to Mulhouse. As perhaps expected, my 26 travelling companions were all 'of a certain age' and perhaps unfairly, because I hadn't even spoken to any of them at this stage, I labelled as 'Sid and Doris' types.

We had a couple of hours to kill at Gare de Lyon where I went for a reviving beer, at vast cost, in the Train Bleu restaurant. A most elegant establishment with an incredibly ornate ceiling and despite only a couple of other customers, unbelievably, but typically French, slow service.

Left: Le Train Bleu restaurant, Gare de Lyon. Somewhat unsimilar to most eateries in London stations.

All aboard the double-decker TGV train, on the upper story, which was again most comfortable, quiet, with few and sensible announcements and incredibly speedy. They displayed the speed which at some points reached 312 kph. A very smooth ride despite that. My goodness, our creaking UK machines are light years behind.

It was a 3 hour journey to Mulhouse and then a quick walk over to the Mercure Hotel and a rather good dinner. This involved sitting at 'group' tables where one got (had) to chat with one's fellow tourists. We were all very polite to one another. I gathered at this point that one of our number had been taken ill en-route and is due to be casevaced home. One down already, 26 to go (not including Adrian).

After a walk around Mulhouse, on via Basel and Milan to Montecatini tomorrow. I am quivering with excitement.


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