25 August 2010

Nervous Nellie Goes To France

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Last weekend my husband and I took the Channel Tunnel ('Chunnel') train from London to Paris to celebrate his birthday. I have always been a Little Nervous Nellie (and Claustrophobic Claudia) about being in a tube underwater - just doesn't seem natural. 246 feet deep, to be exact.

The undersea train line opened in 1994, although formal discussions began as early as 1802. Whereas the English tunnelling machines were given snoozy alphanumeric names, the French boring machines had lovely names such as Brigitte, Virginie, and Pascaline. Ooh, that sounds so pretty and French!

Our Eurostar Train in the Gare du Nord Intl Station (Paris) 

I am happy to report there are no faults on the English Channel seafloor, and it was ideal to bore into the strong chalky marl (think White Cliffs of Dover). Although a huge engineering feat, the construction of the tunnel appears to be void of colorful stories.

Although I turned some heads showing up in my big yellow life jacket and pudgy arm floaties over my cute repurposed Goodwill outfit, I never heard any safety talks including the whereabouts of my nearest lifeboat or exit.

I 'sleuthed' that fire is the biggest danger. There have been a few closures in the tunnel due to fires on the freight trains, thankfully without injuries. And conveniently I realized those scuba tanks I was wearing could double as my firefighter oxygen get-up.

View Inside Train

If I have an urge to ride more undersea trains, I could head over to the Seikan Tunnel in Japan or wait for the opening of the Marmaray Tunnel in Turkey. It is at least four years behind schedule largely due to the discovery of a Byzantine era archaeological find and to complications of building on a fault line underwater (Nervous Nellie skips that one for sure).


View From Train Window (France)

I think our train trip took about 2 hours, with only 20 minutes in the actual undersea tunnel. Cleverly, they distracted me first by pouring (free) wine before we got to the tunnel, and then brought my yummy meal and dessert just before going into the dark underground. And because we went through many short land tunnels along the way, it took a while to realize we were actually in THE tunnel - so I didn't even have time to locate my paper bag to breathe into. 

Getting off the train in my snorkeling flippers was a little tricky, though. I know, I am a dreamy travelmate : )

Source: Wikipedia.org

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XO 
Laura (Nellie & Claudia)

5 comments:

JoAnn said...

OMG Laura....I'm dying! You are so flippin' funny!! I can totally picture you wearing all that gear! And if I were with you, I'd be right there too...flippers and all! :) hee hee Thanks for sharing your fun Chunnel story! I look forward to the ride someday soon! :)

Happy Homemaker UK | Laura said...

Ha ha! It was fun to write : )

frillions said...

Laura,
If you had gone back to the snack car...dining car, whatever, you could have tasted THE BEST hot chocolate I've ever had in my life. Like a melted chocolate bar, rich, dark, creamy, hot. Just the best.

Love your verbal images. Thanks for sharing your daily wit.

E

Happy Homemaker UK | Laura said...

Darn it, next time!! Big. Mug.

FROM THE RIGHT BANK said...

When I lived in Paris, one of my favorite things to do was to thake the Eurostar to London. Thanks for stopping by my blog!