Our trip so far has taken us from the US to Frankfurt to Helsinki, Finland, then to Copenhagen, Denmark, then to Hamburg, Germany, on to Amsterdam, Netherlands and now to Paris.
We’re on a Thalys train, the Belgian version of the high speed train, going from Amsterdam to Paris Gare du Nord (Gare = station ; Nord = North). about a 3 hour trip. We’ve been on this train both coming to and leaving from, Amsterdam several times before. The Thalys runs between Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne.
I used a location sharing app called Glympse (or Apple app store) to estimate our speed. Based on the app, we hit a top speed of 185 mph. Of course the train doesn’t maintain that speed throughout the journey as it slows to go through cities or stops. But in the countryside, it really flys.
On the Thalys, we used a paperless ticket enabled by their app to give our boarding pass to the conductor, who used a small handheld scanner to validate the ticket and seat assignment (reservations on this train are required).
During the trip, once we passed into French territory, the French National Police (3 armed) came through our car checking identities and even some luggage. It was not that long ago on this same route where an attempted terror event was thwarted by an American soldier travelling onboard.
In truth, except for trains like the EuroStar, there is no train security. In most cities, anyone can go up to the tracks, board the train without going through any type of security screening even if they do not have a ticket (of course the conductor eventually come by to check tickets, but not identity). In Amsterdam there was no security prior to boarding. We did notice for the first time in Paris Gare du Nord station that the passengers awaiting boarding were queued in a line and there was a baggage screening device. But this not the case with probably any other domestic or (non high speed) international train.
EuroStar (between Paris & London)
A new hotel (1 night, then change). A ways out, but at least we don’t have a view of a wall next door.
From Gare du Nord, it was two metro lines, 17 stops, and a lot of carrying baggage up and down stairs.
And for the late night viewers, the Eiffel tower at night.