Eurostar is a wonderful idea. Step onto a train in London and enjoy a fast ride to the heart of Paris or Brussels.
I travelled to both cities from Waterloo, Eurostar's original British terminus. Waterloo was a poor departure point, squashed on the site of the old Windsor line platforms. (Closed after the severe storm of January 1990.)
Last week I experienced St Pancras International, Eurostar's London home since November 2007. I was thrilled to see how the Midland Railway's magnificent neo Gothic station has been given a new lease of life. I travelled into St Pancras a few times when a student in Leicester in the 1980s. Back then, it had a neglected air. Eurostar's arrival has changed everything apart from the architectural wonders.
A statue of John Betjeman, the late poet laureate, graces the station, honouring his role in saving St Pancras from suffering from a similar fate to the Euston Arch and Great Hall in the 1960s.
Eurostar's new terminal is classy in a way that few airports can match, thanks to the light and space created by Barlow's magnificent Victorian roof. What an inspired idea to use the undercroft of the old station for the airy passenger areas.
That said, the planners have recreated the worst feature of the original Waterloo Eurostar terminal: the cramped waiting area beyond check in. This is where anyone used to airports - where facilities get better after security - will suffer. Far better to delay going through until the last minute.
The other lesson, sadly, is to avoid Eurostar until the Channel Tunnel is fully reopened after the September 2008 fire. My journey back from Paris took a deeply tedious 3 hours 17 minutes. That's an experience I'm in no hurry to repeat, especially as the Eurostar buffet car offerings are even worse than British Rail's Travellers Fare circa 1978. You have been warned!