Smoothwall Firewall project

Friday, 1 January 2010

Trains, Planes and auto-mobiles, a tale of an amusing journey.

This actually happened a couple of weeks ago now, put this is the first chance I have had to upload it.

As you all know I spend most of life either in a car, train or plane rushing back and forth from my personal vineyard, otherwise know as the Loire Valley. Well if you think you have had a bad Friday commute, I'm about to make you feel a whole lot better.

The journey started well enough with a brisk and on-time tube ride from Hammersmith in London to St Pancras to catch the train to Luton airport. I completely missed the sign's at St Pancras and got on the wrong platform to watch the train I wanted depart on the other side. Oh well . I had given myself plenty of time to get there, so I got on the next one. I arrived at Luton airport via a bendybus transfer to find that the Easyjet flight was late, and it got later. The delays seemed to be down to people having 38 pieces of carry on luggage and the staff having to fight and pull them from the clasped fingers of the frightened passengers who were obviously worried they would never see them again. It is worth noting , that with all their surly staff, grubby planes and £48 bottles of Chateaux le Turd , Ryanair have only ever once been late for me. Easyjet on the other hand, have friendly helpful staff, with drinks that don't strip paint as a side line, but are always late. I must factor this in for future adventures.

Anyway, I had allowed plenty of time to get from Charles des Gaules airport to Mont Parnasse to catch the TGV to Poitiers, but Easyjet had taken most of that away, so as my RER train from Charles des Gaules pulled off with all the speed of a dead tortuise I knew I would be about 1 minute late for the connection, and I was right. So not a problem, I can catch the next one. Ooops that is at 6:50 tomorrow morning, great. Car hire booths had long been abandoned and the cafe owners are staring at me as if I had leprosy and serving me with a beer might cost them their lives. There is always something intrinsically annoying about service companies that want your money, but really don't actually want anything to do with you. I digress.

What to do, grab some cardboard and make like a hobo , find a Parisian absynth den and drink myself into next week, or get an hotel? I'm an old fart so I plumbed for the later, though it was a close run thing to the drinking den. I grabbed a copy of the local hotel guide and rang three hotels, all full, this is going really well. I decided that even if it meant sleeping on the Champs-Elysees in the most expensive hotel in Paris, I wanted some rest. I walked out of the station , straight into the nearest bar to gather my strengh. I chatted to the barman who explained their was a great "little" hotel Ibis just around the corner, so after a few more Stella's I thought I would give it a go. The extremely friendly and helpful Portuguese receptionist explained they had a cupboard at the top of the building which they kept especially for tired, hungry and dishevelled Anglais travellers. I was so pleased, I would have happily slept with the ironing boards. To be fair, it was just larger than a cupboard, but only just, the bed folded down out of the wall, and then their was no room anymore. It was truely a miracle of modern hoteliers ability to squeeze every last euro out of the modern traveller. The receptionist told me that the room had a tiny balcony with a great view of the Eiffel Tower, she wasn't lying, but she did fail to mention that you needed to lean out over the balcony, 200 feet up, to see the pretty lights. It was beautiful to be fair , if death defyingly dangerous on inspection this morning. The things that Stella makes me do....

Today, here I am on the 6:50 to Bordeaux travelling at what feels like an alarming speed towards Poitiers to grab my car, and hopefully I will be home in time for lunch! I have learnt a few things this weekend about travelling through Paris. Never trust Easyjet timetables, they are just vague estimations of which year you might arrive in, put up with the chavs on the Ryanair flights, they may be cruddy but they do get you there on time. If you need a cupboard for the night in Paris, look like a lost British soul and the Portuguese receptionist will sort you out, preferably with a view of the leaning tower of Eiffel. When you find a bar that will serve you beer near the train station, amuse yourself looking at your fellow drinkers as they truely will be a motley crew. The music blasting out from the poor quality hifi, will also bring a smile to your face. You never know how lucky we are to have the great music we do in Britain, until you start listening to the French chart toppers, a sort of reggae/punk fusion with lots of accoustic guitar and ballads.


Bon voyage.