The Eurostar, a railway service in which transports you to and from different countries such as from France to the United Kingdom and vise versa. Before my recent trip to Paris I saw myself in the middle of so much hype surrounding the Eurostar, with my family and friends as well as people online making it seem as if it was the next best thing to sliced bread. With the Eurostar being the main competitor as a form of transport for travelling to other countries by plane, this article focuses an in-depth analysis regarding different aspects to the Eurostar and whether it lives up to the hype surrounding it.
The most important aspect when booking a holiday is the price of the flights or other methods of transport used to get to another country. The Eurostar cost me around £70, which in my opinion is a fair rate to pay since flights from EasyJet were around £80 (which included choosing your seat) - both being return fares. The prices that are advertised on both websites are fair, with seats on EasyJet starting from around £35 for one person one way as well as the Eurostar starting from £29 one way. As much as these prices seem too good to be true, in most cases they are, since you would need to book months ahead and fly during the cheapest times (not during school holidays). Considering I booked a trip for July in May, it was very last minute as I had to wait for my holiday form to be confirmed from work, I think £70 was very reasonable and cheap. The Eurostar has the edge over flying since trains depart at least every hour, making them very frequent and accessible. This allows you to see the different prices for different times and giving you a wider variety than most airline companies do when picking times to fly.
Getting To & From the Station
My favourite thing about the Eurostar is the central location of it, with it being located at St. Pancras International (opposite King’s Cross Station), making it a lot closer than many other airports in London such as Gatwick or Heathrow. Since my train was at 7am I used an Uber to get to the station, with it only being £11 for a 30 minute journey, a very good price for that early in the morning in London. If using the tube or a bus it would have cost me around £1.50, which I would’ve used if I was travelling later in the morning or the afternoon. When travelling to the airport these journeys are tiresome and stressful, with specific trains going to and from the airport being packed with travelers as well as all of their luggage. When travelling home, which was around 2pm from King’s Cross Station, I had no trouble getting onto the tube since there was no crowds since it wasn’t rush hour.
Speed & Time
The Eurostar prides itself on being a faster mode of transportation between countries, which in some cases is true if you calculate the time getting to and from the airport as well as facing barriers such as security and walking through the airport to your terminal. Flights from London to Paris are approximately just over an hour compared to the Eurostar taking around 2 hours and 20 minutes. As much as people may think flying is a better option, you only need to be at the station from where your Eurostar departs around an hour beforehand whereas at the airport you would need to be there at least two hours before. When I was told I only needed to be at the station an hour before the Eurostar departed I was anxious since I didn’t think this would be enough time to get through security and passport control. It ended up being more than enough since I walked straight through by scanning my ticket and then got through security in less than 5 minutes. The Eurostar is very precise with it’s timing since it left bang on the dot at 7:20am, not a minute more or less. Everyone had enough time to walk down to their designated carriage with their seats and most people were already sitting down in their seats by the time the train had left. When getting off the Eurostar I walked straight from the platform into Gare du Nord and from there walked to my hotel. There was no passport control or border control when I got off, which made life a lot easier for me. When getting off the plane, you would have to wait to get your luggage if it had been stored under the plane as well as then going through luggage claim and passport control. This could take up to an hour depending on how busy the airport is as well as how quickly you got off the plane.
Comfort & Other Features of the Eurostar
The Eurostar, unlike airplanes, feature a plug socket as well as extra legroom. For tall people like me, this made me feel a lot more comfortable since my legs weren’t pressed up against the chair in front of me as they would have been on a plane. The Eurostar was very clean with toilets being located in every carriage as well as there being lots of places to store your luggage. Sadly this meant I didn’t get to see any arguments over who had the overhead bin first, sad times. The best part of the Eurostar was the free WiFi, unlike airplanes I was also able to receive some reception for my phone since we were overhead until we went through the Channel Crossing, which left me in the dark for about 20 minutes and to use the WiFi until we made it into France. The seats were comfortable with a padded headrest, which allowed me to comfortable sleep until the journey was over. There was also an option when booking to have a table seat which allowed for extra room but the standard seats came with a small fold down table which were fine to use. These trains were just like any standard train with there being a carriage that included a bar where food and beverages could be bought. I preferred travelling by Eurostar since it felt as if it were a normal train ride whereas with a flight you can feel the turbulence and the constant vibration. The one thing I detest about flying is the feeling in your stomach when the plane goes up in the air, which I didn’t feel when travelling on the Eurostar even though it reaches speeds of up to nearly 190 mph.
The only real downside to using the Eurostar is that the locations it travels to are very limited. At the moment it only travels to 8 locations which include Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. With the option of flying airlines will fly to most European countries and will fly to multiple cities within them. Since I live in London there is a wide variety of choices to fly from such as Gatwick, Heathrow and London City Airport. The only place in London that the Eurostar departs from is St. Pancras International, which if you live outside of London might make getting into London and then getting to the station a hassle.
Unlike airplanes there is no weight limit for each item of luggage you bring but it would be sensible to make sure you don’t make these bags too heavy since you would have to lift them over your head. Even though there is no weight limit there is a width restriction with each item being no more than 85cm long. Since I bought a standard ticket I was allowed to bring two suitcases with me as well as an item of hand luggage, way more than needed for me but it was nice to have the option of bringing more luggage on if I had wanted to. When going through security I didn’t need to get out my liquids which made life a lot easier and made getting through security quicker. Since there was no liquid restriction I was able to bring a normal size bottle of shower gel through rather than buying it when past security or putting it into a tiny sized travel bottle. Eurostar are strict regarding people bringing alcohol on board, so if you are going to take some alcohol with you, check online for your allowances to make sure it won’t be confiscated at security. Regardless, when I travelled I brought a litre bottle of vodka with me, which I had no troubles getting through with.
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