London to Barcelona

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, August 20, 2012

Arrived in London at 6.15pm after a long and tiring trip(24hrs)from Pattaya. Found Air India to be good though the manners of a few of the male passengers were questionable at times. Arrived at ourHotel at 8.50pm after catching tube to King's iCross from Heathrow.The Alhambra hotel was a 2 min stroll from the stat
ion and the room although best described as compact was very comfortable. The double bed after 3 weeks in King size produced some competition for space and I think Mary was the winner! Next morning we enjoyed a lovely English breakfast which we walked off around the local area where we found the ' Lucas Arms' and sampled the local beverages. Now we are waiting in the lounge at St Pancras International for our Eurostar service to Paris in about 40 minutes.
What a great experience the Eurostar service was so smooth and quiet as we glided away and then accelerated to speeds that made main road traffic look as thought they were standing still. Before we knew it we were under the channel and into French countryside then in less than 3 hours we were into Gare du Nord and disembarking. A lovely snack meal was served to us - trout with bean and noodle salad and a lemon meringue pie with 2 small bottles of wine each - very enjoyable trip. One criticism would be the apparent lack of information on the track and construction of the line with a map of the route and towns passing through on the way.

We had no difficulty finding our way to the metro to get us to Gare d'Austerlitz for our Barcelona connexion. However we did have a little difficulty getting from the underground station to the main station but we had an hour to spare so there was no problem. It was however pretty warm but once we were on the Train Hotel it was beautiful and cool. We had a very comfortable compartment with overhead space for our luggage. We glided away from the platform right on time and soon we were speeding out of Paris. It was a massive train and we were near the centre but couldn't tell how many carriages but at least 20 I would guess. Ours was behind the buffet/dining car and we managed to get the last 2 seats in the first dinner setting. Although we were not really hungry we enjoyed our meal. Mary had an omelette and salad while I had roast chicken. It was a 3 course dinner but we only had one course and enjoyed a half bottle of white wine with it. It was great watching the evening fall over French countryside as we dined and spoilt little only by our dinner companions who unfortunately didn't seemed to want to acknowledge our existence. However we enjoyed the experience of dining by rail. Will have to do it again!!
By the time we returned to our compartment it was in night mode with top and bottom bunks made up and we were ready for sleep. I think we were awake a couple of times but compared to the Thai trains we had a much better sleep and soon after 6am we were awake and so we packed up and headed for breakfast at the dining car soon after 7. A lovely breakfast of ham and omelette with toast, croissant, fruit and yoghurt, orange juice and tea or coffee. This was included in our fare but the dinner was not.
We arrived on time at Barcelona Sants station and then got a taxi to our 'hotel ramblas'. It is in a great location right in the centre but we discovered that while the room is comfortable enough there is no air on only fans!!! Also we found that there was no lift and we needed to climb102 stairs to get here. Mary says it reminds her of the Marigold Hotel story Spanish style (she watch the Marigold hotel again on Air India a couple of days ago - freaky. )
Anyway we will survive - the bed is comfy and the shower is fine though as small as you could expect and therefore difficult to pick up the soap if you drop it! Our room is at the back which means it is quiet and looks over a clutter of adjacent roof tops and courtyards and away to the south west. This means the afternoon sun streams in and makes things a trifle warm. We have two full days to explore the city and leave on Saturday by train for Malaga to pick up our car and drive to Marbella. Ole!!!!
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