More than once I've boarded a train at Strasbourg Gare thinking that I've been lucky enough to, more or less, get a carriage to myself. Only to find, at the actual moment of departure, the bloody thing is packed! This phenomenon is down entirely to the country's addiction to smoking. Before departure you are guaranteed to find half of the passengers of any given carriage loitering on the station platform getting their last nicotine fix before the journey. At the sound of the whistle they all leap on, reeking of fags, and bundle into their seats - spoiling the illusion for us non-smokers. Whether this cute little activity will still persist after the introduction of the Ban on smoking in public places (if it comes in) remains to be seen.
When I first travelled on the Eurostar - I was impressed. It was modern, clean and, when it got to France at least, fast. Having now used it for a number of years however, I am now of a slightly different opinion. Compared with the train that runs Strasbourg-Paris: It's small, dark and pokey The seats are uncomfortable (they don't recline and are crammed in with a total disregard for leg-room) If you're UNLUCKY enough to get a 'window' seat (being on the window side does not necessarily guarantee you a window), you also have to do battle with a waste-bin attached to the bulkhead (which was added later - as no-one had thought to include bins in the original design!) thus restricting your movement even further There's no trolley service - so if you're in Carriage 18 - you have to hike through 12 carriages, without tripping over, just to get a cup of coffee So thinking back to that sodding advert starring Eric Cantona - who proclaimed the journey gave him "room to think, to breathe" - [...]