Staying on the rails from the Black Country to Zurich


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Guardian piece savaging Virgin’s milking of public subsidy to enhance private profit on a railway with some of the highest fares in Europe was not a good start to a rail trip to Zurich.
There was no problem with the 0.9.45 from Wolverhampton to London Euston – apart from the lack of proper luggage space and the aggressive Wi-fi trying to extract even more money while blocking communications if you did not cough up.
A stroll in the sun to St Pancras Eurostar terminal was pleasant enough – as was the swift passage through baggage and passport control.
Much more relaxing than the airport regime – or at least it seemed to us.
Perhaps it is failing memory but the trains seemed a lot dirtier on the outside than last time – Wolverhampton-Paris-Barcelona – and somewhat worn and shabby inside.
The extra luggage space seemed minimal after being gobbled up by well-baggaged travellers from the Orient and the leg room an improvement on Virgin.
Perhaps that was just a mirage courtesy of the footrests.
A croque Monsieur (ham and cheese toastie) was nearly up to the standard of the Gold and Black Cafe in Wolvo but somewhat more expensive.
Anna found the pasta and pesto salad almost as tasty as the lemon cake to follow.
Instead of the taxi ride to Gare De Lyon (there were four of us last time) we opted for an £11.90 carnet of ten tickets for the Metro, bus or RER rail system.
Despite it being rush-hour we slotted onto the downstairs part of the double-deck train without too much of a squeeze and popped up at Gare De Lyon.
The bar (or at least the one we could see had not opened and the chain shops did not tempt us.
Not much in the way of seating around but it was very busy.
Nice touch was a piano siting on a purple carpet for people to have a go at tinkling the ivories.
The young guy flying over the keys as we passed was suspiciously good.
But it was live music and got a well-earned burst of applause.
The TGV for Zurich was another double-deck job.
Much more swish than the RER and our seats were upstairs this time.
Like the Eurostar, a very smooth ride, and this time with a couple of bottles of lovely Edelweiss beer to wash down the sandwiches.
Just a quick ticket check on the way – don’t know what happened to passport check.
Maybe they are on the way up the train or will ask in Zurich thought we – but no – no passport check at all.
And straight out of the station, across the road and into the very red interior of the St Gotthard Hotel -can’t do that with most airports.
A wind-down with a couple of local beers across the road and so to bed as ye olde diarists say …

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