Air Chance, Conclusion

Last time I wrote of the air traffic control strike which interfered with my Air France regional flight connecting from Paris to Vigo, Spain…

Twenty minutes later I arrived at the next Première Classe location. This time the front desk was polite, but once again it was not my hotel. Teetering on the edge of tears, I asked how many more were in the vicinity. Only one, I was assured. To reach it I needed to hop on the vertiginous vehicle that passed for public transportation, return to the terminal, buy an RER train ticket, and take it two stops to Parc des Expositions.

The Parc is a convention center. Have you ever been to one when there is no event? There’s more activity in a black hole. I was totally alone: no other travelers, no ticket sellers, and no signs to indicate which staircase to use to locate my elusive lodgings. I took a guess. I trudged up a set of stone steps to street level and was rewarded by a sign for Hotel Ibis. Where one hotel exists, can others be far away?

Yes. After walking 2.3 kilometers in the wrong direction, I retraced my steps to the station. Now there were several characters hanging around who looked like they might be selling those flapping toy birds by the Eiffel Tower later that night, or handbags by the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Pisa Purse Purveyers

But there was also a young woman playing her own game of Let’s Make a Deal with the exits. Together we discovered a subterranean passageway enabling us to cross under the railroad tracks. Our adjoining hotels were a mere three minute walk away.

By now it was past noon. There was no one at reception in the place, just a sign to check in at the sister hotel next door. My room was not available until two p.m. so I went into the restaurant for lunch. I craved comfort food. A creamy, melted, ham-and-cheesy croque monsieur fit the bill. They were out. A French restaurant out of croque monsieurs? That’s like Yankee Stadium being out of Nathan’s hot dogs. I settled for a glass of white wine and a pricey asparagus appetizer (three whole stalks!), showed my I.D. at reception, went next door. and fell into a deep, jet-lagged sleep in my cubicle.

Later I walked around the industrial streets searching for a less expensive place to eat, but the neighborhood looked eerily like the back lot of Universal Studios. (I had photos to show the deserted area but they were on my cell phone, which has since been stolen by gypsies. Seriously. To be fair, this occurred in Portugal, not France.) I returned to the hotel and ate a simple meal of hamburger with fries and salad. As I write this, dinner’s dizzying price of €22 (not including beverage) equals $28.64.

In the morning I slipped my room card into the slot of the impersonal box on the wall by the elevator, waved goodbye to the imaginary front desk folks, and forced my luggage out the door. I stopped. While I’d checked online that my flight was departing on time, the terminal had not been listed. I headed to the other hotel to inquire. After using three computers for as many minutes, the attendant expressed regret that he couldn’t locate the information either. I said thanks anyway, and announced I was on my way to the train station.

“Ah, non, madame, I advise you to take a taxi. The rail strike has begun.”

You have to love France.

Eiffel TowerPhoto credit: M. von Essen

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About Tricia Pimental

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Tricia Pimental's second memoir, A Movable Marriage, has received 5 Star reviews from both Epic Book Quest and Readers' Favorite. It's available on Amazon in both Kindle (amzn.to/1RtRBwp) and print (amzn.to/1OiGlUU) versions. She is also the author of two Royal Palm Literary Award Competition-honored books: Rabbit Trail: How a Former Playboy Bunny Found Her Way, and Slippery Slopes. Other work has appeared in International Living Magazine; A Janela, the quarterly magazine of International Women in Portugal; and anthologies compiled by the Florida Writers Association and the National League of American Pen Women. A member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and a former Toastmaster, Ms. Pimental resides in Portugal. She can be reached at www.triciapimental.com and on Twitter @Tricialafille.
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8 Responses to Air Chance, Conclusion

  1. Can only imagine the frustration! Bob and I sat in an empty train on a freezing night in Boulogne years ago during a train strike – hoping to get to Paris. We listened to stuttering computer voices for hours before the train finally moved. We made it to our hotel with fifteen minutes to spare before the cafe next door closed for the night. Your sojourn was far more instense and frightening!

  2. Thank goodness you made it to the restaurant; hopefully your meal was accompanied by a good single malt. It was very stressful, indeed, and I will NEVER travel with old-fashioned luggage without rollers, even if loaned for free in a pinch!

  3. Lynne Baker says:

    My teeth were on edge reading your last two blogs. Yikes! But then I gaze at Max’s photo of the Eiffel Tower and I can forgive France for almost everything!

    j0078140Lynne Buckie Baker

    • Me too, which is really silly, in a way, but I can’t help it.
      I was so glad I had M’s recent shot; most of mine are prints from a non-digital camera (can barely remember those…)

  4. Anne Pimental says:

    Such well told tales.

  5. Ninette Bravo says:

    France is one place Kurt does not want to return to and I have never been to. I, too, speak French but see it doesn’t matter. In other countries, if you speak their language you are treated like family. Glad you made home safely & soundly!!!

  6. We’re currently on a driving trip across Spain (Barcelona briefly yesterday). The closer we get to France, the less friendly. So disappointing, because it was always my favorite.

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