Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ride the Chunnel


Tunnels are fun places. Every kid loves to crawl inside them, engineers dream of building the perfect one, treasure hunters covet them and what they may contain. I used to hold my breath every time we drove through one on family vacations, particularly while driving through the Rocky Mountians of British Columbia, where tunnel after tunnel gobble up the highway. If you made it through the entire tunnel without letting go of that breath, well, I'm not sure what you'd get but it was always a challenge.

Please don't challenge yourself to hold your breath while traveling through the Chunnel between England and France. Either you will fail miserably or you will pass out and/or die. The Chunnel is 32 miles long, with 23 of those miles actually located under the sea floor. This is a long way down, folks!

A Chunnel train, bright yellow and ready to roll. Image via.

It takes approximately thirty-five minutes to zoom from one official end to the other, but you would never know because outside the train windows it is pitch black. When you first enter the Channel Tunnel, you think, "Oh, we're going into another tunnel." Half an hour later, you emerge into the light once more and realize you are actually in another country and just journeyed under the ocean at an amazing speed. It isn't really exciting or mind-blowing until after the fact.

The Chunnel tunnel - not much to see but cool that it is under the ocean! Image via.

I myself spent my Chunnel trip sitting across from four fourteen-year-old boys who had hit a convenience store before we departed English soil on our way to Paris. They had more junk food crammed into their backpacks than any normal human being could possibly consume, or so I thought. I was way off! These boys ate so much sugar and carbs during that thirty-five minute time span that I think MY butt got big by watching them. It was an entertaining way to fill the time gap while the world beyond our windows went black.

This method of transportation was convenient and quick, but nothing really to write home about other than to say I had done it. But the Chunnel is indeed a miracle of engineering and is a blessing to any traveller looking for a fast way to cross the distance between the United Kingdom and France.

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