LONG day yesterday – but all went very smoothly and we got to see a lot of countryside in the process. Started at 7:00 AM in Lucerne at the train station adjacent to our hotel. Made our connection in Geneva and saw a lot of lovely countryside along the way, included beautiful views of Lake Geneva.
Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to get any kind of decent pictures from the trains as, in general, they are really moving fast. We changed over from Switzerland to France in the Geneva train station and took off on the TGV (Train Grand Vitesse or Very Fast Train in English) and met a really nice English couple who were also changing over to the Eurostar in Lille and had done it before, so we asked if we could follow them and we did.
They stayed in first on the Eurostar, we went back to standard class – we should have ponied up the extra, as standard on the Eurostar is pretty crowded and not very comfortable, but it is only about 90 minutes and I couldn’t talk myself into the extra charge. Next time…At any rate, Rob and Roz helped us navigate the Lille change (follow the Union Jack signs!) and also Rob volunteered to walk us to Euston Station when we arrived at St. Pancras, which he did! Way above and beyond for chance met strangers! We just wanted to be sent to the right exit, but Rob insisted, and, frankly, I’m really glad he did, as it was a bit further and less obvious than my ‘Maps.com’ print out looked.
We then made our connection to Virgin Trains from London to Oxenholme. We were standard class there as well but they offered a 15 pound each upgrade to first and we took it. Much nicer carriage and more comfortable seats, and hardly anyone else in the carriage with us, plus wifi and a place to charge up our devices. We were able to confirm our taxi pick up in Oxenholme and were checking in at our hotel by around 10 PM – tired but happy that none of the things I was worrying over – immigrants storming trains, strikes on the French and British rail systems and so on happened. We did see what appeared to be new fencing and razor wire around the facilities in both Lille and, particularly, in Calais and there was a decided increase in the police and military presence in the port areas over what we remembered from other Eurostar crossings.
After a good night’s sleep in our new digs – much nice than our last hotel and about six times bigger than our ship cabin – it would fit into the (very nice!) bathroom here. We have a gorgeous lake view room at the Laura Ashley Belsfield hotel in Bowness-on-Windermere. Bowness is, by the way pronounced like ‘bonus’ not like bow of a ship with the w articulated. Keswick, which is a nearby town is Kes-ick- not large on articulated ‘Ws’ here. The hotel was constructed in the Victorian period for a Baroness as a private home and it has a real “Upstairs Downstairs” atmosphere, and the included breakfast was nice although not terribly well-organized. We had been seated at a lovely table for two in the corner by the windows, went to the buffet to get our breakfast and came back to find someone else had been seated at ‘our’ table. She was NOT moving, either, so we ended up at a rapidly cleaned and reset table adjacent but not as desirable in terms of view. It almost ended as ‘turn about is fair play’ when the lady left to get her food and someone else tried to sit there as well. The public rooms are lovely and the whole place has just been renovated by the Laura Ashley folks. I had expected a lot of little flower prints everywhere, but was happily surprised by the muted colors and mix of geometric patterns. It is really very pretty and in keeping with the architecture as well.
Having been completely unsuccessful in finding a coin laundry in Lucerne and unwilling to pay the extortion that they called laundry charges either there or here, we went off in search of a laundromat in the Lakes today. Turns out (Bank Holiday here) the nearest open one was in an adjacent town about 30 minutes away by bus, so we took our stuff and bought a three-day bus pass and went to Ambleside to do laundry. It was a lovely morning and a very nice drive on the bus, and now we have clean clothes again and that will do us until the Princess cruise and on board laundry is available. By the time we returned to Bowness it was starting to cloud up and all the predictions are for worsening weather by the afternoon. What happens with that will determine what we do for dinner – if it is okay, we’ll probably walk into the town. If it is raining, we’ll hit one of the hotel restaurants, but in any event, this afternoon is a rest up time. Tomorrow we will start to explore in earnest with our bus pass.