Photo Essay, Paris, France

Transportation Mishaps Abound

Have you ever had those moments where it just seemed impossible to have a situation fall in your favor? Well that’s what it seemed was happening to us on our travels to France and Belgium, but thankfully, the only problem we had was in regards to transportation mishaps. I’m not complaining because we had an amazing time and the mishaps along the way didn’t cause any major issues, but it got to the point where it was laughable at times. Many of the snags were our fault and could have been prevented, so thankfully we dealt with them fine and even made some of them fun, which is what travel will teach you best, to roll with the punches and go with the flow.

It all started when driving to the airport in Miami for our 6pm flight. Thankfully, I got off work a little early because on the way we came upon an accident. Traffic was really backed up and we figured it was just another typical Florida accident. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Apparently, there was a high speed chase involving a bank robber, which ended in an accident along the interstate. Luckily for us, the accident was on northbound I-95 and we were heading south; the northbound side was completely shut down. There were tents set up in the middle of the interstate with picnic tables and CSI personnel everywhere. It was like something you would see in a movie! We eventually made it past the crime scene and to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Everything was going great until we were on the plane at cruising altitude.

Crusing altitude - view from a plane

Excuse me while I go on a little rant here. Now I’m not saying I never recline my seat, but I definitely pay attention to anyone behind me before I do. Please pay attention to the people behind you. Somehow, we got stuck with some BAD seats on our seven hour flight. The people in front of us felt it was necessary to fully recline their seats and the back of their seats were literally in our faces. I know planes are cutting space and shortening seat pitch, but walking down the aisle, we seemed to be the only ones with this issue. I’m fairly short, 5’5″, and their seat was digging into my knees…I don’t even know how that could be possible. They would not move their seats up a little even when they saw how tight we were squished, they would just give us dirty looks as every time we moved even a little, they would feel it. Dinner was the worst; I think I laughed through the whole ordeal. Every time I tried to take a bite I had to back my head up so I could actually get the fork to my mouth without hitting the seat. Mind you, the nice mom and daughter in front of us were actually leaning forward their entire meal and it looked like they could barely reach their tray! I’m sure we could have gotten the flight attendant involved, but we just decided to suck it up and tried to sleep.

So on to our next mishap…totally preventable, by the way. We decided to go see the Eiffel Tower and try to make it before the stairs close for climbing at 6 pm. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I don’t even know where we ended up, but apparently we rode on the metro a half hour in the wrong direction. I guess that’s what you get when you just assume you are going the right way. I might add this wasn’t the only time we hopped on the wrong train.

Photo Essay, Paris, France

Photo Essay, Paris, France

Which leads me to my next point. It’s a good idea to check which train you are on before it leaves. We were heading from Brussels to Bruges on what we thought was the correct train. Well, the platform sign was broken and we hopped on a train a couple minutes too early thinking it was ours. Yeah, it wasn’t. Once we started to pull away from the platform, we realized it may not be the right train…but by then it was too late. We were stuck. After about 10 minutes of slight panic trying to figure out where we were headed, the conductor walked by to check our tickets. Thankfully, we were headed to the same spot, just on a slower train that stopped about 10 more times. After our panic subsided, we were able to get off and transfer to the train we should have been on all along, just a half hour later. It worked out fine in the end, but it was a little nerve racking not knowing where we were headed or how much an additional ticket could potentially cost!

Train Ride to Bruges, Belgium

And the last incident happened on our way back to Paris from Brussels; we had what should have been an hour train ride turn into over three hours. As we started to get close to Paris, the train slowly came to a halt. We waited for a bit before an announcement came on in French. Only being able to understand a few words we decided to hang tight. After what seemed like forever, we decided to ask someone to see if they knew what was going on. Apparently we were 10 minutes outside of Paris, but there was an accident or some sort of incident on the tracks. Because the conductor wasn’t giving out any information, people decided to get off the train and walk the rest of the way on the tracks, resulting in thousands of people on the tracks and police trying to clear them off. As you can imagine, this took quite some time, about two hours actually. Thankfully, we had a nice conversation with a couple of people near us, and we found out all four of us had lived in Florida at one point, but came from completely different backgrounds–it’s always interesting to find weird connections. Eventually, the train finally started to move again, but our troubles weren’t quite over just yet. We were not walking distance from our apartment and the metro was just about to close for the evening. We tried buying tickets, but the machines weren’t working and we were about to miss the last train of the evening. Thankfully, a security guard was talking to someone else in the same situation and he let us all sneak through the gate! We made our train just in time, and that concluded our mishaps on this trip…hopefully they don’t continue…but if they do, I want to remember the following lessons I so kindly taught myself.

Lessons to take away:

Stay away from bank robbers, they bring nothing but trouble.

Be considerate of people around you, and you can recline your seat, but please be aware of those around you when you do.

Think before you just hop on a train–try to make sure it’s the right one before it leaves the platform.

Talk to people, you never know what you might find out or how they could help you.

And if all else fails, learn to laugh. Both at yourself and at crazy situations. It may not make your situation better, but at least you will get a smile out of it.