Postaday2011 – 500 mile trips

There has been a dramatic fall off in the number of blogs I’ve posted recently partly because the topics suggested were in my opinion rubbish ideas and also they seemed to be re-hashed earlier suggestions. The other reason perhaps more relevant is that the events over the last few weeks have been very tempting to comment on, phone hacking, NOTW etc and require some time to consider what I want to say so that blog is coming very soon.

The question today is how would you prefer to travel 500 miles, train boat or plane? The very short answer is that it depends where I’m going.

If I’m nipping across to Paris which door to door is probably around 400 miles I would drive to Ebbsfleet and take the Eurostar direct to Gare du Nord. Flying to CDG is OK but getting in from there to the centre is a complete pain unless you take a taxi and that’s expensive. The other overwhelming factor in favour of the Eurostar is that you do not have to be there two hours in advance and hang around Gatwick / Heathrow / Stansted bravely pretending you’re even vaguely interested in the so called duty free stuff and avoiding loads of bored kids. I will concede though that the waiting lounge or holding pen as it should be called at Gare du Nord is not great and there are never enough seats. Take the train and you get a booked seat that you can choose in advance online. The whole booking, ticketing seat reservation malarky can be done very easily with just a few clicks of the mouse, or the trackpad if you’re fancy and have a Mac.

This falls flat on it’s face if you want to go much further though.

I’ve been looking at the south of France for a quick weekend away and it is entirely possible to pick up the TGV at Lille direct to somewhere in the sun. It does take about five hours but it is 400 odd miles and it would take you seven hours to drive on the superb autoroute system. So for a journey to say Nice I would have to opt to fly and I dare say it would be cheaper than taking the TGV. The real winner is travelling time, two hours or less in the air and even with the misery of the departure lounge it is still quicker. Having said that the TGV does tend to leave on time and usually rocks up at the destination pretty much as expected. How often can you say that about your favourite budget airline?

I’m not a massive fan of trains but I do like the freedom they offer to wander around, go to the bar, have a half decent meal as the countryside flashes by. Flying at it’s lowest level – economy is let’s be honest grim. Therefore the conclusion I offer you is that there is no simple answer to the question it depends where you’re off to. If I was going to New Quay in Cornwall from Norwich in the summer I would fly without question. Who in their right mind would drive to Cornwall?

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