I knew when I was planning my trip in the summer that I couldn’t just go for ten days, especially when there is the option for me to go longer. Flying in Canada is both expensive and time consuming, so I doubled my trip to twenty days. “Now, where to spend those ten extra days in Europe?” I had months to hum and haw over where I wanted to go the most. Ireland? Norway? Greece?
And so it was decided. I’ve seen the absolutely spectacular pictures of the Highlands and the stone cities I’ve fawned over for years and knew I could take any cold weather Scotland threw at me, and I wouldn’t spend two minutes second guessing if I should have gone somewhere warmer.
But how could you not want to be here?!
Back at home, staring at all the photos I took, I am so disappointed that none of them do Scotland – or any place – the true justice it deserves. There’s the sounds, the smells, and the twinkle of an adventure that always waves at you from the corner of your eye, and off you go again. Wandering the world, piece by piece…
But I digress.
The first stop on my trip was Kings Cross Station.
This train station is amazing. During the day, you stare up at the lattice in utter amazement as soon as you walk through the doors. A particularly fun fact I found one (drunk) night, is that the station lights up at night.
Okay, the photos look the same, but my phone doesn’t do good dark photos. So imagine walking up the stairs from bright lit tunnels to step out to the entire ceiling illuminated in eerie purple light. All the crowds you saw before are gone, and the worn floor wait patiently for the nightly polish. My favourite is the book shops, lights off, silhouettes of the stories held behind the glass dancing in the false-light.
Judging from the fact that there was people at the station, and that this night-time picture is buried amongst blurry pictures of concrete and marble stairs, it was quite the drunken night.
Right! Back to the train.
I bought myself a one way, First Class ticket for my Birthday – £80.85. A regular ticket was £45.00-ish, and I figured why not?! I’m travelling solo, will probably have reservations about doing it in the future if travelling with more than one person, and had yet to find a source that really said if it was worth it or not. “First Class will depend on your tastes and travel styles” was the common consensus.
After a few glasses of wine, I found myself saying “Free wine on weekdays?! Well, look at that – I’m travelling on a weekday! And I love wine!”
And so it was bought.
When you get to Kings Cross Station, the big open space (with the lattice ceiling) is where you wait until the platform is announced for you train. There’s a huge wall with dozens of TV’s (you can see them to the right in the pictures above) that tell you what train is going where, what time it leaves, and – eventually – what platform you can board said train. Platforms are not announced earlier than 20 minutes before departure (if I’m not mistaken), and you want to have a minimum of five minutes to get to your train for any domestic departures (international needs a bit more time). This is absolutely amazing, because after you’ve visited a few airports you’ve truly been in them all.
Think about it.
On a train, you can see out the window and watch the world pass.
The little dots out these window are sheep – not cities, like they are in planes.
You can see the stone cottages and grassy fields, with rows of trees and flowers.
You only need to be there five minutes before departure.
That’s the best part, honestly. Oh – and no safety spiel (I love you West Jet, but after a dozen times no jokes are enough).
As for First Class, my biggest question was “Is it worth it?!”
The First Class carriages are at one end of the train (they were in the front for my trip). I chose the quiet carriage, which was great – no kids, quiet speakers, and little single-person tables. Each table ended up having a person or two on them, but luckily I had my own little table to myself the entire trip. Each First Class carriage has free WiFi and extra cushy seats.
As you just get settled in and the train starts to move, they come through the carriage asking if you’d like coffee or tea, and keep coming back after each stop or two.
The thing is, while the seats have different colours, your wine is served at your table, and food is complimentary, the seats are just as comfortable in economy, you can bring your own wine (and forgo asking for two glasses at once because it’s lunch and you drink fast….), you can bring your own food, and there is absolutely amazing SIM card plans which make WiFi redundant. So what if you can hear the people behind you talking, or if there’s kids? Chances are you’ll have headphones in anyway, or will be enjoying that wine so much that you won’t even realize the kids are there.
All those blogs that say “it depends on your travel style” were correct. I believe it would be more suitable to say, “It depends on your personal preferences” as I found First Class to be mostly about the “class”.
It did bring me a few giggles to stare back at the picky-lifted-wine-drinkers as they waited for the ticket master to tell the blonde with thick black eyeliner and skull rings that she was in the wrong carriage (ha HA!).
I don’t have any regrets about giving it a shot, and now I know that economy seating where people ignore you once you show your tickets is the way for me. Throughout the rest of the trip, it ended up being my crew that was rambunctious and loud and having an absolute blast making friends with non-business travellers.
And no, we were not in the quiet carriages.