So our epic train journey is over, till we go back that is. It went really well and we only had one hitch.
Train n.1 Leicester to London was super smooth as I got a first class ticket for a pittance by booking well in advance, the boys didn't pay as they are still under 5, so in just over an hour we were in London.
There we had the strange experience of checking in and going through customs for the Eurostar as if we were boarding a plane, it was very busy and I didn't realise how many people can fit on one of these trains but all plain sailing. It is a pain getting on and off trains with a pushchair so I wouldn't recommend it, if Isaac had still been happy to go in the carrier I wouldn't have bothered but I have to say that me and the boys are so in tune with each other that we didn't have any problems, the pushchair had to be folded to get on and off the European trains as they are much higher up than the standard UK ones but the boys got very good at hopping on and off and negotiating the steps and the crowds. So train n.2 was the Eurostar London to Paris, we were in standard class and were quite cramped as Isaac didn't pay but had to sit on my lap, next time I'll make sure we have seat with a table. The journey wasn't too bad, just over 2 hours, but Reuben sang the whole way (the same song...) and as lovely as it is by the end most passengers were getting a little tired of it, Isaac just wanted to jump up and down...
So we got to Paris in perfect time, I had booked a (expensive) taxi but when we got to the end of the platform there was no one there to meet us, very worrying as we needed to get to another station for train n.3. I called the taxi office and they assured me the driver would be there asap, so this did not start well. It went from bad to worse. The driver turned up and we rushed to the car, as I was folding the pushchair he helped the boys into their car seats and they must have sensed something amiss as they both immediately started to cry. They had been fine up to then and taxi drivers often help me with the boys so it was weird, I put it down to them being tired. We got in the car and even with me sitting next to them they continued to cry, the driver offered them a sweet and Isaac immediately became quiet and went for the sweety, as Reuben was still crying the driver then started being slightly unpleasant telling him he could only have it if he stopped crying. Reuben has never encountered this sort of punishment/reward attitude and didn't understand it, he is also not scared of adults so he replied that he was upset and did not want the sweet. The man got quite cross at this and proceeded to be more an more unpleasant to Reuben calling him a baby, telling him he would stop the car and leave us if Reuben didn't stop crying and that he wouldn't take us home, he also mocked him and explicitly told him he didn't want to listen to crying in his car. I asked him please to leave my child alone as he is still 4 years old and had been travelling since that morning, this resulted in him being angry at me too, he then proceeded to call someone on his mobile and spoke on the phone while driving all the way to the gare de Lyon at which point he dumped us without helping with my bags. I complained to the taxi company and they assured me they would not use him again as this behaviour was unacceptable, I'm sorry he lost the job but it was extremely distressing for us.
As soon as we were out of the taxi and into the station, Reuben was ok again. We had an hour before train n.3, the sleeper Paris to Rome so we had something to eat and watched all the chic Parisians! The boys did a lot of running around and happiness was restored. Gare de Lyon is a very pretty station, I will find out more before we go back so we did not mind spending a bit of time there.
And so on to the most exciting train of all, the sleepy train (as Reuben calls it). We boarded about 30 minutes before it left, everyone was very kind and helpful and the boys loved our little cabin, they climbed all over it and it was nice not to worry about disturbing anyone. We attempted dinner in the restaurant car but the boys were so excited they broke two glasses in the first 5 minutes so we ordered supper and ate it in our cabin, someone had made the bunk beds but I felt the train was too rocky to sleep in the top one so I put the mattress on the floor and made a little bed for Reuben while me and Isaac slept on the bottom bunk. The boys didn't go to sleep till quite late but then slept through to about half past 7, we had breakfast and the boys enjoyed running up and down the corridor until we got to Rome amazingly refreshed!
So yes it was a success and I look forward to doing it all over again in reverse in two weeks time!
|Gare de Lyon in Paris|