Saturday, October 13, 2012

Planning ahead?

Dog Tired
Adam and I try to plan ahead when it comes to traveling to countries we don't know well or using new systems in countries we do know but have never used. Because inevitably if we don't give ourselves more time to sort out a new system ....something could potentially go wrong and high levels of stress will ensue.

So, we thought ourselves pretty awesome finding our way to the train station at Montparnasse in Paris with no problems (because we planned ahead). However, since we don't have a credit card with a chip we couldn't use one of the kiosks to purchase tickets. No problem, right? We had plenty of time to get two round trip  billets from someone in person.  We got in the line specifically denoted  "trains for immediate departure."  We had to make the 10:55 train as we were meeting a couple at 1:00.

 We got in a long line. A very long line. Naturally, even with the long line there are only 3 billet providers working with customers. The clock is ticking. Every customer seems to have a lot of questions. All 3 of the billet providers had very long answers. Everyone smiles and jokes...and the clock is ticking.

There was the lovely older British couple who couldn't make up their mind when they wanted to leave and when they wished to return, or which stop they wish to go to and needed to see a map. Wouldn't you kinda know all that in advance if you are in the immediate departure line? Then there was the woman from China who only spoke Chinese. The billet person tried speaking English and French with no luck. Then the billet person brought over her boss, who spoke Spanish, and that didn't help as this woman only spoke Chinese. It was all sorted out, but the clock was ticking. Then there were the several people brought to the front of the line for some unknown reason. And on and on it went, slow, frustrating and comical.

Finally, we made it to the front of the line. The train will be departing in 12 minutes. When we told the ticket clerk we needed two tickets to Flers he said, "You know the train departs in about 10 minutes, right?" I asked, "Do we have enough time to get to the train?" Well, he said, it helps if you know how the train station is set up (we didn't know), "but you could try and if you miss it you could take the next train at 1:00."

So, here Adam and I are racing through the massive station, running on the moving sidewalk which takes us to yet another station, nearly tripping over people and their luggage as the clock was ticking. We probably ran the length of several football fields (more than three to be exact, according to one sign that told us our destination was 300 meters away), but we made it. The conductor took our tickets and helped us validate them. We sat down in lovely seats barely on time, sweaty and tired. So much for planning ahead.

In the end, it was a delight to spend the day with Martine, Clive and their sweet dog Dolly.

Cheers! Anastasia

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