Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks. It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited! In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.
Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich. We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!
Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Planning & Introduction
- Part 2 – Park Hyatt Chicago
- Part 3 – One Day in Chicago
- Part 4 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Part 5 – Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, London
- Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg
- Part 7 – Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg
- Part 8 – What did we do in Strasbourg
- Part 9 – Eating in Strasbourg
- Part 10 – Park Hyatt, Zurich
- Part 11 – 10 Hours in Zurich
- Part 12 – Hotel Eremo Gaudio in Varenna, Italy
- Part 13 – What to do in Varenna, Italy
- Part 14 – Eating in Varenna, Italy
- Part 15 – Park Hyatt, Milan
- Part 16 – What Did We Do in Milan
- Part 17 – Eating in Milan
- Part 18 – Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
- Part 19 – Around the Hilton Molino Stucky & Free Shuttle Boat Details
- Part 20 – What we did in Venice
- Part 21 – Eating in Venice
- Part 22 – Waldorf-Astoria, Rome Cavalieri
- Part 23 – Eating in Rome, Part 1
- Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!
- Part 25 – Rome Cavalieri Imperial Floor
- Part 26 – Activities in Rome
- Part 27 – Activities in Rome – Where to Go, What to See, How to Save Time
- Part 28 – Virgin Atlantic Flight from Europe to US
- Part 29 – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
Getting to Strasbourg
After we ate and showered in the Virgin Atlantic lounge, we took the underground train from London, Heathrow airport to King’s Cross/St. Pancras station. The Eurostar which travels from London to Paris in ~2.5 hours leaves from King’s Cross/St. Pancras station.
We booked the train journey from London to Paris on loco2 which lets folks in the US pay the best price for train tickets. We booked the trip to France at the last minute, so the train tickets cost us more than it usually would have.
See this post from The Man in Seat 61 for the best tips on booking train tickets!
If you use Google to search for train tickets, you will likely be directed to the raileurope website, which doesn’t show folks in the US the cheapest tickets!
We paid ~$600 for both tickets because they were a last minute addition to our plans. We booked a Standard Premier class fare instead of the cheapest Standard class fare. There weren’t any non-stop flights to Strasbourg from Heathrow and airfare was expensive.
The train was the quickest and cheapest way & we could have saved some money by buying tickets in advance.
There were lots of signs at the airport directing us to the Underground.
It was very easy to get around.
We bought our Underground tube tickets from the machine which accepted our US credit cards without a fuss! Each ticket cost 5.5 UK Pounds (~$9).
Fortunately, there were lots of escalators & elevators which came in handy with our luggage.
Folks with luggage were directed to the larger handicap turnstiles which meant that it was easier to clear the automated gates.
There was a place for our luggage on the train.
We were riding the train in the morning and it was soon packed with commuters.
After an hour, we arrived at St. Pancras and walked to the Eurostar train station which was clearly marked.
Everything looked very well maintained. I was surprised by how clean the station was.
Daraius had reserved the tickets online, and all we had to do was print out our train tickets at the station.
We entered our ticket number and selected the tickets to print.
We confirmed our itinerary.
It was very easy and took just a minute…
…to get our tickets.
We then went to the waiting area for the Paris train. We went through security, which doesn’t take as much time as the US security checkpoints.
Once through security, we found a seat and relaxed before our train. There were lots of cafes and restaurants, as well as clean restrooms.
Interestingly, American Express Platinum personal cardholders get free access to the Business Eurostar lounge in London, Paris, and Brussels. The terms seem to exclude business cardholders from free access, but I don’t know how closely that is enforced.
Boarding begins 20 minutes before the departure time, and closes 5 minutes before departure time. So you don’t want to be late!
Our train left right on time.
There was space for our luggage…
…and magazines to read.
The train ride was nicer than a flight because the seats were larger and you could freely walk around. There was a separate car with food and drinks.
We were served hot food because we had booked a Standard Premier ticket.
The seats were also very comfortable.
Train From Paris to Strasbourg
Once we arrived in at the Gare du Nord station in Paris, we had to walk to another train station (Gare de l’est) for our train from Paris to Strasbourg.
Daraius had been drilling into me that we only had 30 minutes and had to walk all the way to the station so we had to be fast! He had mapped out the way and was walking fast.
We quickly walked through the streets of Paris and I noticed the elegant architecture and people on the streets and marveled at being able to transport myself here in just 1 day!
There were no elevators going down to the station, so pack light! There is another route which avoids the stairs, but takes more time.
We made it to the station and found our train. We got on and realized we had 10 minutes to spare! It was close, but we did it. Whew!
This was in-spite of printing out a map and walking fast. I doubt we would have made our train if Daraius wasn’t prepared.
Our seats on this train were a little larger and more comfortable than the last train because Daraius booked them in Business class.
There was also wifi on the train but we didn’t pay for it so couldn’t check how fast it was.
I had not eaten at the lounge, so I ordered a Croque Monsiour (grilled ham and cheese) at the bar, along with a Lipton peach iced tea.
The sandwich took just a few minutes to heat up. But I had trouble paying with a credit card. I tried two cards and neither worked. Luckily, Daraius had euro so we paid with cash.
The sandwich was very good (or I was very hungry) and we both finished it pretty quickly.
Before we knew it, we had finally arrived to Strasbourg!
But before leaving the station we tried to buy train tickets to Zurich from the kiosk.
But the machine would not accept our chip card.
So we wrote down our proposed train in case the attendant couldn’t understand Daraius’ 2 years of high school French!
We made sure to write the date in the European style with the day first followed by the month and year.
The Strasbourg station design seemed to clash with the old world style of the buildings outside.
We walked 10 minutes to our hotel and learned that hauling bags on cobblestones isn’t as romantic as it appears!
It is often cheaper and quicker to travel short distances in Europe by train, than to take a plane. Getting to France from London was very easy!