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London to Switzerland

Posted on 2009/03/22 09:17:09 (March 2009).

[Thursday 19th March]
Today and tomorrow was my company's ski trip (actually just for a subset of people at the London office), and whilst most people were flying there, a colleague and I had decided to make a point by going by train instead. Besides anything else I've really enjoyed travelling around Europe by train in the past, and thought it would be rather fun.

So I got up early this morning (6AM) and left the flat by 6:30, headed for St. Pancras International, to get the Eurostar to Paris. Theoretically I could have made the connection with a train an hour later, but I didn't want to risk it. It was a pleasant run to Paris, I was in "Leisure Select" for this leg as there was no real difference in the price, which meant a bit more room and also food laid on (although it wasn't really anything to write home about).

I arrived in Paris just before 11 CET, and took a leisurely stroll from Gare du Nord to Gare de L'Est where I would be catching the train to Zurich.

Somewhat disappointingly, it appeared my mobile wouldn't connect to any of the French networks. I suspect that somehow in upgrading from Pay as you go to a proper contract at the end of last year (when I got my lovely G1/Android phone) T-Mobile managed to reset the flag on my account which enabled roaming - or something like that. Given that I had a few logistical transport arrangements over the next couple of days that would be a lot more difficult without a phone, I thought I should try and get a French pay as you go SIM. Conveniently there was a little shopping arcade in Gare de L'Est, and I was rather proud that I managed to conduct the whole transaction in French, including going to the nearby Tabac to buy credit, and then using the automated system (entirely in French of course) to type in the little number they gave me. The guy in the mobile phone shop had apparently never seen "un Google phone" before - they haven't been released in France yet - and was pleasingly quite excited at being able to handle one for a bit.

A short while later my fellow train travelling colleague arrived at Gare de L'Est, and after a quick coffee we boarded the train.

It was a four-and-a-bit hour journey from Paris to Zurich, but it seemed to pass in no time. This colleague works on an entirely different project, so we'd never actually come into contact before this trip, but he seemed to be a very like minded individual, and we had no problem finding things to talk about for the duration of the journey. We spent a good hour or so propping up the onboard bar, which was quite jolly too - so much more of a civilised way to travel than flying!

We arrived in Zurich station around 5, and had made arrangements to catch a coach heading for the ski resort from my company's Zurich office. So after a short taxi ride we were there, and fortunately had about 15 minutes or so before the coach left to have a quick whizz around the office, which is quite famous for it's unusual workplace furniture, including a fireman's pole and a slide. I of course had a quick go on both.

From there we got the coach to Flumserberg, the ski resort, where we arrived around 7. There was then a bit of messing around as we were shuttled to our various hotels, and we all met back at the main hotel just after 8 for dinner. They had laid on a hot and cold buffet which worked surprisingly well from a vegetarian point of view - lots of salad and bread followed by some spatzli, a leek gratin, some spaghetti and a few other things.

After dinner a few of us moved on to a traditional Alpine Mexican bar (!) across the road from the hotel. Had a couple of drinks there, to a backdrop of some awful British pop from the 80s and 90s (people from my office pretty much filled the bar, and it was almost as though they laid that on specially for us as if to say "look what you bloody did you gits!"). I didn't stay out particularly late though - it had been a long day and I was sharing a room with a colleague who had already gone back earlier, and it seemed a bit rude to stagger in and wake him up at 3AM. Plus on top of that some other people had already arranged to get a lift around midnight, and I wasn't overly confident about making it back by myself.

It was a slightly surreal experience in a sense, to have woken up in mild weathered London and be going to bed in a lodge on the side of a snow covered mountain in the Alps.

Hardly took any pictures today though, which is a shame - just a couple in Zurich station and one of the outside of the office... anyway, hopefully this very long and wordy account is an acceptable record of the day's proceedings.

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