Sunday, November 30, 2008

I've made a huge mistake

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... was the first thing  I thought as I heard the announcement on the train say we were arriving in Lorraine TGV - the opposite direction of where I was supposed to be going on Tuesday morning.  I felt slightly panicked as I jumped off the train and onto the platform; knowing that I was not at all where I was supposed to be.  You see, I had just take a high speed train 45 minutes in the wrong direction meaning that not only was I not in the right place I was FAR AWAY from the right place.
I had woken up that morning at 6AM, my day bag was already packed from the night before and all I needed to do was shower and show up at the train station on time. I did both of these things and did not feel at all rushed as I took my train shuttle to the other station in my town.  The think about Champagne TGV is that it is a train station where trains pass through and so most days the name of your destination is only a mere subheading on the sign whilst another city takes precedence.  I was stressed about taking the wrong train in the wrong direction - I tend to always get flustered when I have to grab a train here as I am usually running late due to a bus or train delay.  So as I waited on the platform and my train did not show up on time, I started to die inside. 

I had told my friend, Meagan, that I would be meeting her at the Charles de Gualle airport train station at 9AM, so we could go and spend the day in Paris together, frolic and eat crepes.  Meagan had just arrived from Tanzania after three months in Africa and was pretty excited for her first European experience, so we had planned an exciting first day touring Paris.  The night before I had talked to her online telling her how everything would work for the next day. I had been worried she would be lost and nervous as she doesn't speak French and would be toting things around in France. 

I had been so stressed about all these things and being late in general that when a train on the opposite side of the platform came in and had Charles de Gaulle TGV writing on it I ran up the stairs and jumped on that train.  The thing is that train had COME from Charles de Gaulle train station and was headed to the German frontier. 

I must have look a wreck as I went up to the ticket booth and explained to the lady what had happened.  Her first question was if the train controller had noticed if I had the wrong ticket.  My answer : no. No, no, instead he had yelled at me for minutes about the fact that I had not validated my ticket. As she rerouted my ticket so I could get back to the train station, a new fear came over me. I had no way to contact Meagan, as her phone wasn't working.  With an hour before my next train left I had time to think and agonize over my mistake.  I went back up to the ticket counter where I explained that my anglophone friend was probably lost in the train station, and had no way to get in contact with me.  The woman quickly acted and called the CDG train station and was about to make an announcement when my phone rang. It was Meagan. She started off telling me that she was lost (how ironic) as I began to tell her just HOW lost I was.  Thankfully she was ok with it all and just used her computer and the CDG free WIFI available at the airport as she waited the three hours for me to get there.
I was not so lucky.  I had not prepared for a three hour train ride.  In fact, I had only brought with me three birthday cards that I had been meaning to write for the entire month - all three of which I had finished on the first train. At 10AM I got on my train heading to Marne-la-Vallée -Chessy TGV train station and sat reading the Economist's prediction for 2009, and let me tell you 2009 sounds not very good at all. It was a depressing train ride.

As the train pulled in I realized why I knew the name of this train station! THIS WAS THE TRAIN STATION THAT LANDED RIGHT SMACK DAB AT DISNEYLAND PARIS! I wouldn't mistake those ears anywhere.  So I did what any awesome individual would do if they had a 20 minute  layover at the happiest place on earth. I took pictures to prove that I made it.

I did get to CDG that day. I was three hours late, and was suffering from a bruised ego - but I made it!


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