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In This Together: Travel adventures come in surprising places
by LOUISE R. SHAW
May 27, 2014 | 1819 views | 0 0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The directions were good except for one thing. We were told which subway to take, which stop to get off on and which train to transfer to, but we weren’t told that the train branched off into two different lines and if you got on the wrong one it wouldn’t end at the airport.

So of course we got on the wrong one.

I saw at least one other twosome get on with luggage, so I figured we were on the right track (get it Р track?!), but when thinking back, I do remember seeing lots of other people with suitcases who looked less lost than the four of us and who didn’t get on.

Should have been a sign.

Once the train got underway, as is our usual practice, we examined the graphic showing the route.

Some might consider this reverse order. That, in fact, it would be better to examine graphics before getting on the train, but we had been in Paris for a week by then and felt pretty confident about the Metro subway system, though yes, this was a different system for trains.

We noticed right away that the B train branched into a B3 and a B5. We had no idea which one we were on but were not worried. If we passed the branch and arrived at the first station on the wrong line, we would simply get off, get on one heading back and correct our mistake.

That was the plan for the next few minutes, until we did arrive at the wrong station and prepared to disembark only to have the train speed by without stopping.

Ah, an express train. 

Rotten luck. But there were only a few more stops so even if we went to the end of the line, we’d be OK. 

Turned out those few more stops were few and far between, way, way out of town, past gypsy camps to little villages surrounded by large fields.

By now there were only four of us (all Americans) in the car. And in fact, on the entire train. We laughed nervously together at our shared plight and compared flight times to see who should be the most nervous.

At last, at long last it seemed, as every minute was starting to count, we arrived at the last stop and when the train pulled to a stop, we all lined up at the door.

Smiles and sighs all around. Until the doors didn’t open.

We pushed the button to open them, we tried another door, we looked around for another way.

Then to our horror, as if out of the Twlight Zone, the train started inching forward, away from the last station on the line. Even farther from the airport.

We hollered, we banged on doors, one ran to the front of the train to try and get the attention of the conductor, others started pulling emergency stops.

It kept moving forward until after what seemed like forever, it stopped. Maybe 100 yards past the station.

But the doors wouldn’t open, not even budge. We couldn’t climb out and make our way back.

Finally, someone found the driver. Hadn’t known anyone was aboard, he said. We’d be on our way in a few minutes, he said.

We chatted nervously with the other couple about where we were going, whose fault it was that we were on a train instead of in a taxi and how the suggestions of that person were forever going to be ignored.

But time was moving slowly and we weren’t moving at all. Turned out the train couldn’t proceed if the emergency levers were pulled. It took two trips for the engineer to find all the ones we’d disengaged.

Once at the station, we scrambled to find a train that would stop when we needed it to, only to be delayed by gypsies preventing the train car doors from closing to allow time for their friends and family to run over from the other platforms and join them. The train couldn’t go with the doors held open. 

Those doors.

There were more blips and lots of running, but to shorten a long story, we’d started early enough that even with delays, we made our plane.

And the whole thing just goes to show that when you travel, adventures show up in the unlikeliest of places.

May you laugh about them sooner than later.

 

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