High speed travel

I’m on the Thalys high-speed train back to Amsterdam following an extremely worthwhile three days in Paris. I was at Les Blogs, about which I blogged a bit yesterday and about which I’ll start writing a more complete personal view while I’m on the train which I’ll post tomorrow.

No network connection on this train (unlike the ‘wi-fi train’ that started in the UK recently, which may or may not be the world’s first such service) so I can’t post any entries to the blog until I get home this evening.

One of the things I like about train travel in much of continental Europe, and in particular services between countries like this Thalys service, is that all the trains are spotlessly clean, comfortable and very fast.

On the trip down here on Sunday from Amsterdam to Paris, somewhere on the stretch between Paris and Brussels, the driver came on the public address system to tell us that we were travelling at 300 kilometers per hour (about 186 miles per hour). We’re now at about the same place on the return journey.

No announcement on this journey, but it feels (and looks, from the way things are just flashing past the window) like we’re doing about the same speed.

That’s fast!

Additional comment. We’re now in The Netherlands. Suddenly, a half dozen guys from the Dutch border police (Koninklijke Marechaussee), all packing pistols clearly visible, have appeared in my carriage (and where did they spring from?). They’re going up and down asking every passenger for their passports. They are taking a long time in examining every passport.

This is the first time I have ever seen anything like this. Very interesting given the open borders in the European Union where you can travel pretty much to any continental EU country and never have to show a passport to anyone. This is very much out of the ordinary. It looks to me that they’re looking for someone specific.

Ok, I passed the test – they examined my passport, scrutinized it in fact, all clear. Imagine if I’d forgotten it on my Paris trip. I’d be blogging from jail, no doubt.