Day 1 - Fri 10 Dec 2004
The start of this mad trip across Europe! It's a dark, dank day in Bunnik, arrived at work before the sun had risen - decided to leave at 12:30 to give myself a bit of slack in case things do go wrong.
The train to Utrecht was on time, and the one to Rotterdam was only 5 mins late, that I can handle! There was a sharp frost last night, and it's still on the ground at 1pm.
Ok, got to Rotterdam with no problems, and blagged my way onto the 13:54 Thales train, which (if I could stay on it) would get me to Paris by 17:05. But I have a reservation from Brussels to Paris on the next Thales train. The Guard has charged me 18 Euros to get to Brussels, no big deal, but I do have to get off and take the reservation I've got - oh well.
Collected my ticket from Brussels station, and got them to exchange it for the 16:00 train! I'm ahead of schedule. On the way down I was chatting to a Dutch lady and an American chef, he works on an exclusive fishing "ranch" is Costa Rica & he's backpacking around Europe on his long holiday.
Okay, I'm now on the 16:10 train to Paris now, although it's exactly the same type of train I got from Rotterdam, but because the lines are better, we're really speeding along now.
Sat next to a Japanese guy who lives in Paris - had a good old chat. The train arrived in Paris on time, and I got the RER two stops to Gare d'Lyon and then walked across the bridge to Gare Austerliz. An Impressive station! I swapped my Internet ticket for a real one, and waited for my train to Madrid.
I'm on board now, and the train is a bit of a disappointment, it like a port-a-cabin on wheels. It's unlike any sleeper I've ever been on. Although I'm in a non-smoking carriage that hasn't stopped someone lighting up in the corridor. This is a spanish train after all.
I've changed my mind about the train - I've just had a very nice meal (Salmon, profiterolls and a large glass of wine) It's 23:30, and I'm tucked up in bed, there's no sign of my bunkmate. He's a French plumber who works in Spain at the weekends - I'm sure there's more to that story!