From Richmond to St. Pancras International Station:
Our journey to Paris started with an Uber ride from Richmond Hills to St. Pancras International Station in London. We had allotted plenty of time to get to the station, but we made it just in time to catch the train. Due to extremely heightened security after the Manchester terror attack, the traffic in city center was horrendous. We were told that this was the first time that the militia were brought into London to spruce up security measures. Shout out to our Uber driver with dexterous and proficient driving skills who drove us to the station as quickly as possible! The ride from Richmond Hills to St. Pancras International Station on a Friday afternoon cost USD 44.54.
Inside the station, we followed the signs for international departure and Eurostar and power walked/jogged our way to the gate. We had pre-printed our tickets, so we didn’t have to stop at a kiosk or customer service desk to retrieve our tickets. After getting our tickets scanned, we went through security similar to what one would go through at an airport, without having to remove our shoes. Then we stood in line to go through what would be equivalent to immigration process twice, first with the UK officer who swiftly stamped our passports, and then with the surly French officer who also quickly stamped our passports and checked our tickets. We then proceeded onto the very crowded waiting area and waited for about 10 minutes before heading up the escalator to the platform for our train. At the platform, the staff checked our tickets before we boarded the train. We placed the suitcases at the designated section for storing such luggage and placed our backpacks on the shelf above our seats.
The train seemed to be sold-out as it was packed, and our seats were part of the 4 seats that faced each other with a table in the middle. The French mother and her little boy who sat across from us were part of a group of people who were seated in another 4 seater part next to ours. We greeted each other, and the train took off about 10 minutes behind schedule. I fell asleep pretty quickly as the train started to gain speed, but was woken up about half an hour later at the most ear-piercing noise pollution that pervaded the train. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the start of one of the most obnoxious and annoying train rides ever. To read more about the 2.5 hour ride that tested everyone’s patience, click here.
As one of the major hubs for trains (including international trains), the station was busy, crowded, and lively. While we were trying to request a ride on Uber, we were approached by many men offering a ride, which we politely declined. There is an area outside the station that is designated for Uber pick-ups around the corner of Rue de Dunkerque and Boulevard de Denain, and we were picked up very promptly by our driver. I have read multiple times online that the area around Gare du Nord is not the most desirable place to hang out due to filth, stench, drug dealers and users, pick pockets, and homeless people, but we did not have enough time to witness much of anything as our exit and pick up were very swift.