I had a startled wake up. The hotel concierge rang me up telling me that everybody is down in the lobby waiting for me. I utter a brief silent curse (to myself of course), how could I have fallen asleep with most of my belongings still not quite packed. I quickly rammed everything into the main bag, sat on it to make sure it can be zipped up. Really felt like Mr Bean going for his holidays. Fortunately I slept fully clothed – ready and raring to go so to speak. Quickly ran down the alleyway dragging the two bags after giving the room a brief run over in case I left anything. By the time I reached the lobby, the concierge was already helping to load the bags into the waiting MPV. Boy, it was 3.45am and I did not even have the chance to brush my teeth.
A quick apology to everyone and I continued to assist the driver to load the MPV. He happened to be a Bangladeshi – not an uncommon sight around the capitals of the world now, ain’t it. By the time we reach Marylebone, I realised that I had left my glasses. Normally it would be hanging on my shirt front but it wasn’t there that morning. Rummaged thru’ the jacket pocket, it wasn’t there either. I must have left it by the bedside. Another quick quiet curse to myself.
London St. Pancras Station at 4.15am still very quiet. I really had to scour the station for trolleys to carry the luggage. Then we quickly assembled in front of the gate, ready to board the train at 4.45am. By then it was already buzzing with people.The immigration check was cursory and the security x-ray check was quite normal – no fuss. How I wish the one in Jeddah is as fuss free as this. By 5.00am we were all well loaded onto the Eurostar heading for Paris. Loading the luggage onto the train was quite a job, but then that was the price you pay for having many big and heavy bags. The porters weren’t on duty just yet. Exactly 5.25am we were well on our way to Paris. The journey was uneventful. I managed to find an empty seat to perform the fajr prayer and by 7.00am breakfast was served by the bilingual hostess. I was either too tired or too excited to sleep. The French countryside wasn’t that different from the British ones. By 8am we were already approaching Paris Nord. At last I managed to set my foot in Paris.