Europe trip: Day 1 & 2 (London Day 1 + Paris Day 1)
So the day has finally arrived! The plane departed the airport at the night of the 29th.
To cut down the cost of the ticket, the flight had a stopover at Doha, Qatar. Quite a number of people don't seem to know where this is: it's in the Middle East. Surrounding countries include Saudi Arabia and Dubai (part of UAE).
About 7 hours later, we arrived in Doha. What I was not expecting was that there were shuttle buses to the terminal instead of walking to it or having a bridge. The colour of the ticket holder and luggage tag I was given determines if I were to head to the arrival hall, transfer hall, the premium terminal, or the satellite wing. It took a while to step out of the plane as the shuttle bus could not accommodate every one. Really, why this, and why are they all at different areas?
The terminal was crowded, and I could only find one toilet there that itself was full. When waiting, every seat was occupied. The sitting area after the collection of tickets to wait for the shuttle bus was small, with the bus itself not being able to accommodate everyone that was standing there. Heck, there isn't even room to stand too.
Anyway, another 7 or so hours later, I reached into Heathrow airport. The queue into customs was long too. (Might be a good thing in terms of what immigration would look at.)
There was really nothing cheap eating place to look for there even as I made my way to an another terminal.
I bought my Oyster Card there for £5, plus £10 for the balance. It took a while for the train to reach St. Pancras, where the onward train to Paris is. It wasn't until there where I had bought something to eat.
On reaching Gare du Nord in Paris, I headed straight for the metro for where the accommodation is. (Encountered touts along the way, and they are usually always of African decent.) I did not have any Euro coins, so I couldn't use the ticket machine. However, the nearby customer service counter was not operating, so there was quite a number of walking and searching. (And more of those touts.)
What are the station platforms and trains like? The train frequency may be good, but the stations themselves doesn't seem comfortable, and there are noticeable broken tiles and graffiti on them. Except for the newer trains, you had to pull a latch to open the doors individually, and there are no system announcement to say what station you are at, so you have to look out of the window to look out for the station sign, which are thankfully huge.
Another odd thing is how you get out of the paid area, which is just a one way automatic barrier that doesn't require your ticket. (I have seen people entering though them from the opposite side.) There are, however, some stations that has a ticket barrier that is like the same as getting in, or ticket inspectors to check for fare evasion. The scale of people evading fares are mind boggling, and even done in front of me by jumping over the barrier.
From there on, it was just booking in and catching sleep. Total journey time from starting at home was more than 24 hours. Couldn't get comfortable sleep since 12 hours prior to that, so it was a big relief.
Also done was to sort out the junk and mess accumulated along the way. Couldn't really do that properly out in the public.