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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Train Delays...Because of Me

So, for awhile now I've had this great weekend trip to London planned. I wanted to see my running buddies, visit the American International Church in London and get some work done on my project. I booked a nice trip on the Eurostar, leaving Paris at 8.43 a.m. arriving in London at 10.00. Perfect. My good friend made plans with the running group to meet for lunch at a favorite restaurant at noon. A friend from church would meet me at the train station with an empty Oyster card so I could fill it up and get going on public transport in London. So easy. Until I screwed it up.
Perhaps I should've known that this was going to be a wild day when I fell down the stairs going out of the church. In an attempt to not let the huge door bang behind me, I was trying to ease it shut, but in the meantime, my heel caught the stair and I went down flat on my face.  Fortunately no injury and the wine in my suitcase didn't break. Oj. From there, the bus ride to the train station could not have been any easier or smooth. I arrived with plenty of time, and make my way through ticketing and passport control. There were lots of people and I knew that there was a 9.13 train in addition to my 8.43, but somehow missed that everyone for the 8.43 has already boarded so I took a seat in the louge. Eventually I looked at my watch and it says like 8.42 and I am not on the train so I know I am trouble. I decided to make a run for it to see if I can still catch my train. Everything was blocked off but a woman said, go, go, they will open the door. Well, I didn't really know where I was going so ran down a stairwell and out a security sealed door that led nowhere...so I walked back in and up the stairs and finally made it onto the platform, but alas the train was gone. The Eurostar agents were there and I couldn't even speak because I was so out of breath and panicked and they wondered how I had gotten to the platform, which would later become an important question. Anyway...trying to explain how stupid I was, that I had been sitting in the lounge, but missed the boarding call, that I am new to this train station and the Eurostar, and no I don't speak French, I found that they were actually very nice. They got me a seat on the 9.13 and I thought all was well until at about 9.10 an announcement came that said we've had a security breech and we are delayed. Then the customs\police got on and found me and wanted to see my luggage...they said, the blue bag and the black bag and didn't you have a white coat? Obviously, there was video. So of course, I complied and got off and they said, You have made a very BEEEEG Mistake. You opened a sealed security door and you now represent a security risk. Uh oh. Now we have to get French customs involved and we do not know what they will say and now all of the trains are delayed as traffic has stopped. I had successfully stopped all train traffic and created a security risk by opening that sealed door. Anyone not yet on the 9.13 train had to wait and some had to get off. Oops. They took me back into the terminal where the dogs sniffed my bags, they took my passport information, and continued to give me dirty looks. Actually, they were very nice even if serious. They knew I had made a mistake but still, since I breached the security door, it created a huge problem for re-securing the train station. Obviously security is a big deal right now, especially between France and England when a giant metal tube is going to shoot through an underwater tunnel! Then they took my passport and had me go to the ticket agent to get reseated once again, which I feel very lucky about. Then I couldn't find my passport!!! Turns out they still had it so then I got it back. I finally got on the train at 10.45 and and instead of pulling into London at 10.00 a.m. local time, I will land at 12.30, 2.5 hours beyond my original arrival. The lunch crew is trying to change the reservation to 12.30 and I will take a cab up to the restaurant! Thankfully the hour time change works in my favor in this direction!
The French countryside is moving along. The golden fields of rape seed are lighting up the landscape and everything is green and the trees are filling in. Train travel is pretty relaxing except when you miss your train and go through the worst door possible. The French were very patient with me and I want to give a shout out to how great they were. Some of the Eurostar agents even apologized to me for the delay. 
 

I suppose I have a good story in my pocket but believe me, it's not a lot of fun being taken off the train by customs agents and police, walked through a crowd who are delayed because of you and wonder what the next steps would be. Thankfully not many who were delayed know that I was perp who created the stir. We're all just mostly relaxing watching the world go by.
I'm excited about my weekend in London. It's just getting started a little later than I expected and with a bit more sweat equity than I needed first thing in the morning! And it just goest to show that no matter how seasoned you think you are as a traveler, there's always another thing you can do wrong. Just glad it doesn't have deeper consequences than being a bit delayed.