Sunday, 3 February 2013

Trouble in Transit

I woke up at 5am ready to catch a high speed train to Paris. It was a lot cheaper to fly from Paris than Amsterdam, and I had a spare day on my Eurail pass, so I thought I was being savvy.

I rushed around, checking out and printing boarding passes while the receptionist half laughed half sighed at me. Then I got to the tram stop at 5.45 to see the first tram roll past. My train was 6.30. I had no idea what to do, when I turned around to see a taxi. He was saying 25 euros to the airport, it was only 15 to the station. He was really nice and even told me how to get to the Thalys platform. A lucky save.

That train was really awesome, it felt like an aeroplane taking off everytime they put the train up to full speed!

I arrived in Gard du Nord station. After waiting in the wrong info que for half an hour, I was redirected to another queue. I finally got to the front when the man told me the train to Beauvais Airport you needed just left ten minutes ago. I asked him if that meant I missed my plane, he shrugged and said sorry.

I was absolutely devastated. I didnt know what to do, but my rail pass worked for the whole day so I went out to Beauvais to see if I could negotiate or rebook. It was a grimy country town, an hour out of Paris. The airport was absolutely tiny, and of course nobody was manning the Ryan Air counter, because its an online booking company. Luckily my ticket was really cheap so it was a financial loss, I was just angry at myself for being so unorganised. I definitely wont do it again.

On the train back to Paris I devised a plan. I had no wifi access, and my cellphone had no battery, so options were limited. It was either spend a night in Paris and get a flight the next day, or catch an overnight train to Barcelona and just kill time all day. I went for the latter. By the time I had booked everything, it was 5pm, the train was at 10pm. I had dinner and sat around the rail station. I saw a boy try to steal a bag from the person next to me when three under cover cops sitting around leapt out of nowhere and bodyrolled him, before arresting. Riveting entertainment!

I went over the the correct train station, concerned my bag would give out, like it did the last time I visited Paris train station. I had realised another problem, because my friend Millie had booked our hostel for the supposed second night in Barcelona, I didn´t know the name or directions. With no internet I had no idea what to do.
I sat down in my seat, and a boy came over and accused me of taking his seat in French. After a struggle he sat next to me, when an Canadian guy said behind me, Í had no idea if I was in the right seat either´. This was Adam, who was also travelling to Barcelona, and who had Polish heritage.

I got to talk to him properly in Port Bou, the station we had a two hour wait for the next train. He was my age and had just finished acting school. There was no internet in Port Bou, but he agreed to help me in Barcelona. There was a blood red sunrise, and it was so warm. I was really glad to be in Spain.

In Barcelona station it looked more like an airport than station. Adam and I stole MacDonalds free wifi, I used his iphone to check directions and my emails. Then we said goodbye, I caught the metro and easily found my hostel.

I rang the buzzer and no one answered. Eventually a boy walked past the door and I knocked. He opened it and carried my bag down the stairs for me. I walked into the lobby and the first thing Dean the receptionist asked me was Do you want juice, coffee or tea? Those were the exact words I needed to hear after the disaster travelling which took over 24 hours.
We struck real gold with the hostel, it is amazing.

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