Thoughts on Lille — for the first time in France I seem to have seen lots of beggars and homeless people. Maybe it’s just the first time I’ve been in a big city, maybe I just haven’t noticed. Two-star hotels, kebab shops and sex shops. Maybe I should have tried to move further away from the train station.
A big bustling city, certainly lots of construction around the two stations. French police uniforms suddenly struck me as appearing very functional, Australian and British appearing more symbolic by comparison.
I walked around all morning, definitely a bustling place, a pity that more of the center isn’t car-free. The squares in there have some great 17th century buildings — and one of the first McDonalds that I’ve seen in France.
After lunch I had a beer or three in a micro-brewery located handy to the station — an excellent wheat beer — as one would expect so near to Belgium and more good beers. Then it was back to collecting duffle for the stagger through customs and onto the train. Eurostar can’t seem to work out whether they want a customs check or not, whether the UK is part of Europe or not, so it all seems badly designed and added on as an afterthought.
Sat down to find that Richard had the seat next to me, so we kept each other entertained for the trip, including a last-minute rummage through our pockets for all our French change to buy a mars bar. Then it was off at Waterloo, a phone call to my cousin, £10 and two hours more on the train and I was in Reading(51.4333333,-1.0), in a hot shower, and relaxed.
Lille, London, Reading(51.4333333,-1.0)