As most of you may have read, the past couple of weeks I've spent home visiting my family. I don't get to do it very often unfortunately and the little time I can afford is never enough to do all i want to do and see all the people I want to see. But I always decide to make the most of it and it's definitely worth every second. This year I had a nice surprise. One of my very good friends who I've not seen in a very long time was in town at the same time, so we got to catch up for a few hours which was definitely better than nothing :)
Anyhow, what I'm trying to say is that no matter how nice it is to live abroad and experience other places and cultures, it's always great to go home even if it's just for a few days. And there's no better way to end such an amazing yet short time than with a day long travelling adventure, like the one I had. Apparently I'm not happy until I have a funny travelling anecdote to tell. Without a fail, every time i go somewhere there's usually at least one of those. People say, take a book, watch a movie...I say have an adventure!
This time it all started with a very sore foot and a short lay-over in Paris.
When I first booked my flight I didn't realised that I only would have 45 minute lay-over in Paris, which if anyone of you has been to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport know it's far too short a time to make it in time without running. So in preparation, I came early talked to the nice lady at the check in counter, who either was very tired or didn't want to understand what I was asking her, eventually painfully traded my amazing middle-plane window seat for a front row aisle one and headed to the security check. Waved my parents see-you-soon and headed on my 15 minute hike to the assigned boarding gate.
The plane was on time, surprisingly. While pre-boarding the nice lady at the gate noticed I was limping (the sore foot) and told me to board first with the first class people and the families, nice! and asked why I hadn't requested assistance. Once inside I decided to ask the flight attendant if she knew if i'd have time enough to do my transit, to which she said I'd have to run. (Un)lucky for me the lady from the gate heard the conversation and told me she'd request assistance for me, that way I'd make it no problem because they'd take me directly to the new gate once in Paris. At the time didn't sound to bad. Little did I know that the adventure was just about to begin!
The flight from home to Paris was a bit shaky. Heavy turbulences most of the way. Snacks that I couldn't eat. But hey we were there (almost) on time and in one piece, that's not half bad huh? So the attendant told me the assistance people would pick me up directly from the plane and take me to my next one, but i'd have to wait for all other passengers to disembark first. Odd! I only had 45 minutes and they want me to wait? Oh well, as they say patience is a virtue! And they are supposed to know their way around their airport, right? WRONG! As soon as I left the plane, the fun began.
We landed in terminal 2F and had to take the next from terminal 2G, which normally would require the following procedure:
Leave the plane, head down to the arrival lounge, get out, go up to departures, take a transit bus outside the terminal building, arrive at new terminal, go through security (again), find your gate, board and go (that within the same flight). This takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on security traffic and other factors.
What I ended up doing:
After 20 minutes since landing time I finally left the plane and got picked up by a minivan that, according to these people would take me to my next flight. Instead of that, the van took me to a special room (with no toilet available) in the arrivals floor in terminal 2F, where I had to show my boarding card (we'll start a count here for reference purposes: 1st time) to an attendant who told me to wait without telling me what for. I was in desperate need for a restroom, and had a flight to catch in now less than 25 minutes.
Waited for a neverending 20 minutes, until another attendant came...with a WHEELCHAIR to pick me up (and had to show her my boarding card again: 2nd time). Needless to say, at this point my flight was long gone so she was supposed to take me to the company's service desk so I could be placed in the next one. Somehow she didn't seem to get what I was telling her (for the second time that day), although, eventually she took me to the desk, and once there she didn't allow me to move from the chair, she did all the talking and got me a new flight (3rd time I had to show my boarding card). All this still being in terminal 2F, of course.
With the new boarding card, now I just had to make it to the new terminal in time. But, would I? at this pace i'd miss it again. She took me down again, through a passport control, many elevators and a bunch of "restricted" areas to another bus stop area, where I had to show my new boarding card again (4th time) and wait for a minivan (2nd of the day) to come pick me up to FINALLY take me to terminal 2G, I couldn't believe I was gonna make it.
Spoken too soon i'm afraid, I had to wait for what it seemed an eternity (I was still in desperate need for a restroom, and they'd not allow me to move without a wheelchair) for the van. When it finally arrived, i was asked for my card again (5th time). And I was in the mysterious terminal 2G. I was starting to believe it was all a myth, that it didn't exist, but it does! As I arrived, I was told to wait, again, for someone to come pick me up. When the new lady arrived, I was prepared, handed my boarding card (6th time) and swiftly loaded myself in the chair, waiting to be carried wherever I was to be taken next. This new lady, took me through yet another passport control (where I also had to show my boarding card and passport so for this and the two previous I'll be adding three to the count: 7th, 8th and 10th time). Told me she'd leave me in a waiting area and that someone else would come pick me up from wherever she'd leave me about 30 minutes before my flight. Took me to a restroom and sat me in a gray soft chair at the very end of the waiting area of terminal 2G. FINALLY! only took me two hours to make it here.
I had an hour to kill so started to read The Hunger Games
, yes yes I know I'm a bit late on that one but hey, better late than never huh. As the time to be picked up again approached, I wondered how it'd be as the new person didn't know how I looked like. So knowing me a started laughing at the crazy ideas that had come to mind, when I suddenly heard my name through the speaker asking me to get in touch to the service desk in the waiting area (in French of course) which I had no clue where it was. Limping and loaded with my bags I started walking as fast as I could, painfully fast, until I found it on the very opposite area of the room. There a new lady with a chair was waiting for me, boarding card was presented twice (11th time at the service desk, and 12th to the new lady), I was rolled away to the gate, rolled all the way to the door of the plane, helped up the tiny stairs of the tiny regional plane I was boarding. After 11 people, 2 vans, 3 passport controls, 4 wheelchair trips and several wasted hours, I was finally seated and ready to go. On the plane all I could think about was how I hoped all this assistance thing was already over and I had no on waiting to "assist" me once arrived in Germany. I couldn't take one more second of being sitting down.
A trip of 7 hours became a 11 hour adventure, that I'm happy to report i survived unscratched and (almost) sane. Funny part is, as I was being pushed and driven around, all I could think about was how much faster I could have done it all without the assistance, even on one foot.
On the bright side, despite the whole stressful situation, I got a private tour of the unseen bits of PCDG airport both land and air areas and didn't even have to walk to do it. Also, a few things were learnt from this. First, if you ever have a sore foot while travelling, don't let it show. If a ground hostess offers you assistance so "you'll make it to your connecting flight" don't accept, you'll make it much faster without. And lastly, if you do, keep your boarding card in your hand, you'll be asked for it a million times.
Do you have any funny travel stories? :)
Labels: adventure, airport, anecdote, charles de gaulle, paris, travel, travelling adventure